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the American dream

2007-06-21 14:02:45.810115+00 by Dan Lyke 5 comments

Jay has a friend named Cathy Salustri, and he's pointed to "I Had A Dream", in which she's moved into the south side of St Petersburg Florida, and realizes that she's becoming a racist. Today Jay linked to A St Petersburg Times article on that article and the fallout from it, and as I read through I realized something.

Yesterday, Columbine had a link to a long article about hate crimes, the circumstances surrounding the death murder of Aaron Hall, and the subsequent (lack of) press coverage, Perhaps I could describe what I'm feeling right now as "sudden heat.". This morning, as I re-read Cathy Salustri's part about watching the man who stole from her at his sentencing (time served), smiling at people in the spectator section of the courtroom, I realized that from my sheltered life here in the San Francisco Bay Area I'm having a similar reaction to... well... a good portion of the middle of United States. And I'd bet that many of us on the coasts (or in some of those midwestern havens like Minneapolis) feel the same way.

I don't know how to have that discussion, but I'd like to see it had.

[ related topics: Sexual Culture Bay Area Journalism and Media Community ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-21 15:12:02.515812+00 by: Diane Reese

Part of the reason my younger son decided against attending Purdue next fall is that it is in Indiana.

What's the word to use in place of 'racist' in this discussion? 'Blue-stater'? It's not (just) the political point of view, though, so I don't think that'll cover it. Nor is it being subsumed in some religion or other, so terms like 'non-theist-proud' won't cut it either. Whatever the term, I haven't gotten to that point yet, but I definitely grok where you're coming from on this one.

And yeah, what an awkward start to a discussion.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-21 16:26:26.109229+00 by: ebradway

Some of the comments on Cathy's post are even more telling. As I read Cathy's "I had a dream", I quickly came to the conclusion that she's not a racist. A racist wouldn't acknowledge that she did have friends among the black neighbors.

The problem is almost more class-oriented rather than race. Many of her neighbors appear to be part of a criminal lower class. But the existence of those elements do have one positive effect: low housing prices. And that's exactly why Cathy is living there.

What has happened pretty much throughout the Western World is that neighborhoods like Cathy's will "gentrify". Young people, upwardly motivated people will buy these homes and eventually push out the criminal elements. What will push the criminal elements out will be elevating housing prices. Eventually the houses will be worth too much to continue renting and will be sold.

There are two unfortunate side-effects of this process. First, rural communities are seeing an influx of this criminal lower-class because they can no longer find places in the cities (and the suburbs are just as expensive). Second, young people are also being displaced from inner cities. It's becomming harder and harder for young people, any of whom have regular jobs in the city, to buy a home anywhere near where they work. Not in the inner cities and not in the suburbs.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-22 03:08:42.893029+00 by: Mark A. Hershberger

Here in Lancaster County, Alec Kreider was recently arrested and charged with the murder of his Kevin Haines (a friend of Alec's) and Kevin's parents. He intended to smother his friend, but ended up stabbing him. No motive was given.

Last year, the national news media reported on the murders committed by Jay Wise, originally from New York City, who killed his family here over several days, stacking their bodies in the basement. He was just sentanced. Jay Wise offered no motive but said "Hate is like a cancer that slowly devours your heart and your soul."

Both those stories share brutal, "senseless" violence with the Aaron Hall story, but they've gotten more coverage than the Aaron Hall murder. And it seems like the defendants in the rural Indiana murder may have made up their motive after the fact.

I guess I'm wondering why the Aaron Hall murder deserves a special kind of shock except that, yes, I would think there would be more coverage. But according to the LJ post, the comments collected from the community don't seem to see Hall's homosexuality as a mitigating factor in the case.

Instead of prejudice, what I see is corruption, given that one of the defendant's father is deputy coroner. I also suspect that Crothersville, IN's newspaper is a weekly at best. Without a sufficient local media presence, the story isn't going to get a lot of the initial coverage it needs to gain traction. (Latest local coverage, fwiw.)

ebradway: sure she's racist. At least she's honest about it. Prejudice (e.g. racism) is pretty much endemic. Behavior differences we see have cultural/class roots, sure, but skin color is a nice convenient marker that we latch onto. I'm racist in that I pre-judge people (to a certain degree) based on the color of their skin and facial features. Then, if I have a chance to and we share interests, I get to know them better and I have to adjust my thinking (or not).

There is nothing wrong with prejudice, but prejudice doesn't give you a right to hurt someone.

I'm sorry, Dan. I guess I'm just confused about what you want to discuss.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-22 03:14:48.096087+00 by: Mark A. Hershberger

Oh, I should note that the neighborhood in "I Had a Dream" sounds just exactly like the block I lived on when I moved back to New Orleans 11 years ago.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-22 13:06:13.88345+00 by: ebradway

From the picture caption in the St. Pete Times article (emphasis mine):

"Now she's ready to sell and move to a safer neighborhood."

Safer relative to what? Does she want to move to an exclusive white neighborhood where the police harass anyone with dark skin?

It's not that she doesn't live in a "safe" neighborhood - she just lives in a place with very different mores.

BTW, Dan- you definitely need threading in comments on Flutterby.