October 12, 2010
Instructor: Gail DeCina, L.C.S.W, C.A.P.
I live in Charlotte North Carolina; I just purchased a home in a community called Ballantyne. This community is on what we consider the south side of Charlotte. In February of this year, members of my community were told that there was going to be a public housing development built on a seven acre lot that has been vacant for many years. An emergency community meeting was called; several of my neighbors packed the room, all wanting information about what and where Charlotte’s next public housing development could be built. Many were concerned, especially those living close to the lot that is said to be the land used for the housing development. If Charlotte’s Housing Authority and a local developer are successful in getting their way the development will provide housing for 100 people who fall below Charlotte’s average income. This idea caused more chaos in an evening meeting that I’ve experienced in a life time. Based on the information that I gathered before my departure, the primary concern was because the development would be built within feet of the Ballantyne Country Club. Is it me or is the influence of race stronger for the population that’s greater because of numbers on this side of town? After this meeting I began to notice the difference in me and them. Even had a mother approach me in the grocery store in attempt to apologize for some of my neighbor’s behavior. I simply expressed my appreciation for her concern and carried on with what I was doing before her approach.
When asked the question do the members of my community look like me, I immediately want to respond by saying why yes they do; we all have one head, two arms, two hands, two legs and two feet. However, I am beginning to look a little closer at myself and the difference between me and my neighbors. When I am looked at by many, it can be a little confusing; I have the hair of an American Indian, the eyes, which have sometimes been referred to as those of an Asian, the lips, ears and nose of a Caucasian, and the breast, hips, thighs and legs of an African American. My skin, well it’s a mixture of all the fore mentioned, my grandmother use to say my complexion was olive, now that’s one of few things that I begged to differ with her on, because I’m everything but, a shade of green. So now you’re probably wondering, “What am I?” I will tell you what I am not, and that is confused. On many occasions, I have always been one who selected other when it came to completing this section of an application; not because I was or am trying to be difficult, it’s just that there are no slots for an Asian, African, Caucasian, Indian girl to pick from, so I write it all out. Now, do my neighbors look like me? The answer is No, there are only a very few who look like me, and more than likely, those that do, we are related in some form or fashion. However, my community is one that is diverse; we have individuals from all walks of life, and from all over the world. There is a great mixture of race and cultures in my neighborhood. Some time ago the neighborhood that I live in was made up predominantly of white Americans. As time has progressed and America has made drastic changes in cultural acceptance our community has become one that is diverse.
The leaders in my community treat people like me, and others with a great deal of respect. I have never experienced a problem personally or know of any other neighbors who have mentioned any problems with community leaders. The indifferences that I witnessed were those of others in the area when the mentioning of a low-income housing development was discussed amongst many, to the point where a meeting was called and the topic was discussed openly with all the residents of this area. Although many had previously been accused of making negative comments about the development, when the formal...