Burning Questions 4/5

Darren and I stand in the shade of a tree watching the children play soccer in the coned off area of the street; children of all colors and ages laughing and running together. The final game of the World Cup just finished so all the kids are excited about soccer. Watching them enjoy themselves we talk about the contrasts of where we work and where we live.

There are many differences of course but we see it from a unique perspective. We walk into people’s houses and apartments, sometimes on the worst or even the last day of their life; we see how they live, what their prized possessions are, and what’s missing in their life. Most notably we see the lack of books and computers along with the lack of fathers. The children of the hood are growing up with a myopic view of the world without the benefits of a strong family unit. The socio-economic inequity of their situation is propagated from generation to generation; teenage mothers becoming thirty-something grandmothers, with no help or support from a spouse to guide their children down a path of education or upward mobility. Instead, their education comes from the street which becomes the extent of their world view. It produces a vicious cycle: the lack of education causes them to over-use social services and differentiate themselves in ways that leads society to marginalize them. As populations grow and budgets shrink, government can’t keep up with the demand for more services, and the abuse of the few leads to the deprivation of the truly needy.

Of course they are angry; they have a right to be angry. And the violence is a manifestation of their inability to adequately communicate their needs and create effective change in their communities. In many cases violent outrage is the only voice they have left.

The people in our little community drive past the neighborhoods of the hood every day without ever getting off the freeway. They are equally myopic in that they choose to limit their world view to only see the things that appeal to them. It’s easy to avoid the hood; you just don’t go there. You look at your cell phone while sitting at a red light instead of the homeless man standing there with a sign asking for help. Or if you do look up, you wonder if he’s really in need or trying to scam you, and opt to avoid him and avoid the potential scam.

It isn’t race that separates us — its socio-economic status and the inability to empathize with people and situations we know nothing about. Neither Darren or I have any good answers to fixing the situation. But just the fact that we are able to frame the question is possibly a good first step.

The soccer game is winding down and kids are starting to get tired. We start to put lids on the food and clean up as people are thinking about going home. The sun was strong today with a high UV index. With my fair skin I had to reapply sunblock to prevent a burn. Darren’s black skin protected him yet his wife is as fair as I am so she wore a fashionable sun hat. My wife plays with his daughter’s beautiful naturally curly hair.

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~ by KC on July 20, 2010.

One Response to “Burning Questions 4/5”

  1. Living in Scotland in the late 80’s and early 90’s at least made me aware of the World Cup(most Americans were oblivious at that time)and the absolutely crazed British football fans, even if it didn’t make me a big fan of the game. However, with South Africa being the host country this year, it was too compelling to ignore, and much to my surprise, I caught the fever! I was particularly moved by the entrance of the players onto the pitch before each match, holding the hand of a young boy or girl, in the act of mentoring the next generation into an ethos of sportsmanship that transcends gender, race and socioeconomic/political background. After the playing of each team’s national anthem, together, they held up the banner, reading and reminding the world to “SAY NO TO RACISM.” Maybe you ambassadors from EMS could drop a few soccer balls off from time to time, and see if they don’t sprout the change we, in our lifetime, witnessed in South Africa, reconciliation and the resiliency of the human spirit.

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