Urban Reconstruction

There’s an obvious abyss between the economic classes in America. It’s not just class warfare. It’s neglect, abandonment, and segregation of the countries urban core. In Kansas City, Missouri you only have to drive 15 minutes or less and you witness two cultures belonging to America’s wealthiest and the impoverished. On the one side you have well funded schools, safe streets, private security, nice grocery stores, Every thing just feels clean and happy. Not far from there is neighborhoods with boarded up schools, houses, corner convenient stores. The roads are actually hard to navigate in places. Everything feels dirty and depressing. According to the 2012 census there are more than 45 million impoverished people in America and that number is rising. That’s too many people falling through the cracks and not being a real contribution to the American economy.

Growing up in a largely white suburb of Kansas City with a growing population through the 90’s, I didn’t know much about the people who lived in the poor areas of town. I heard things about them on the news and from stories being told by people with a prejudice and ignorance of what was really happening. I’ve heard about “the blacks” my entire life. They’re almost always at fault in the debaucheries talked about. I listened to three men in my public library openly discuss “the blacks” yesterday. It’s a continuing problem of a us and them mentality. When I hear people tip toe around questions about the racism in America I have to laugh. It’s such an established part of our society people don’t realize it’s there. People stay on their side of the freeway and out of each others neighborhoods and keep the status quoe.

In my opinion based on experience with both sides of this problem it is this racism that is the main obstacle in developing the inner city. When the wealthy and middle class look at poverty in the city they see another society that is dangerous, ignorant, lazy, filthy, and not their problem. To say there aren’t bad people creating problems and a dangerous environment would be naive. It would be naive to also say there’s only drug problems and violence in the city. The difference is that the wealthier areas of town and the suburbs have more resources to keep things under control. There’s also always been a link between poverty and crime. Even Jewish neighborhoods once had high crime rates when they were poor immigrants and hadn’t yet built themselves up. The Jewish immigrants were also victims of racism and segregated into ghettos. The same has been for the Irish, Italians, Eastern Europeans, and Catholics before they had the opportunity to raise themselves up. The common theme is obvious. It’s always us and them. We’ll fund our roads and schools and employ our people and keep the wealth we’ve acquired in our banks. They can stay across the tracks or on the other side of that interstate. That might be just human nature or Darwinism or capitalism, but that doesn’t mean it’s right or can’t be changed.

This country has become much more integrated between races and will continue to be so. However there’s that segregation of the impoverished that isn’t being fixed. There’s not a movement to bring public transportation to people who can’t afford cars. There isn’t a plan to bring the internet to the unemployed. There isn’t enough funding to make all the schools safe and to keep the kids there. The wealthier neighborhoods are still hording all the resources.

There are now generations that didn’t grow up with the same institutionalized segregation and racism that baby boomers and older generations grew up with. These younger people have to make a serious effort to fund and reconstruct the countries urban core. Thanks to social media and cable and knowledge at our fingertips there’s no reason not to be educated about who really lives in poverty and who really lives on the other side of the tracks. There’s no excuse not to notice they’re people. They’re students, they vote, they work, they like sports and go to church. Sure there’s bad people. There always will be. That doesn’t mean we punish the majority of people in a major area of our society. We have to forget about our grandparents talking about the blacks and and we have to have empathy and a sense of unity with people that are Americans. If we can hire corporations to rebuild Iraq or Germany then we can and we should rebuild America. If we don’t than we’re just as bad as past generations and we’re letting a large part of our population down.


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