Sunday, September 28, 2008
The Ratyonian perspective
As a Raytonian you may find yourself the object of confusion while in conversation with outsiders. I remember sitting down with some friends who could not understand why I lived in Raytown. "You mean you want to live there?" "Why?"they would ask. "Its not safe! Its rundown, there is nothing to do there," almost in concern for my personal well being. My usual explination for people like that is to explain my heart of being part of an effort to transform the look, feel and life of Raytown. I conceed that the current state is not ideal. I do however want to see a community develop in an area that is ethnically and socioeconomically diverse. For most communities around kansas City, diversity is a scary thing.What I have noticed from many individuals is that there is no vision for community with people too different from them. We enjoy people who are like us and make us feel safe but there exist just enough differences to make us feel good about how we are "embracing diversity." Last week I went to go pick up my fiance from her aunt and uncle's house. I drove by 6 miles of homes that were almost indistiguishable. The community consisted of almost all young couples with young kids. There were a few minorites sprinkled through the community, some residence did appear to be older but for the most part it was homogenous. My fiance is doing her student teaching at a local elementary school in that community and has commented to me several times about how homogenous, socioeconomically speaking, the school is. I also remember visiting another friend downtown. I drove through a neighboorhood and noticed I was the closest thing to a white person for miles. I also remember picking up a friend for church one day. His little sister answered the door and was petrified to find a "white guy" at the door. But that has been the nature of Kansas City as a whole. We tend to always create communities around people most similar to us. The benefit of diverse communities has yet to be embraced by this City. For most people, diverse communites are a bad thing. If there exists multiracial citizenship and significant differences in socioeconomic status, most people are uncomfortable and move towards the outskirts or inner city or northeast, depending on your preference, of Kansas City where they can find comfort and security in being with people who are like them. For many ex-citizens of Raytown, that was just the case. What has now emerged is a collective of people who do not fear diversity but see its intrisic value. This community is where I believe unique, creative and progressive things can happen. As a diverse community, we begin to appreciate the beauty in humanity. We learn things we never would have appreciated before about people. We begin to realize the broad scope of talent, creativity, innovation and success humanity has by broadening our perspective, which in turn broadens our vision on the possibilites humanity has for the future.