Wednesday, June 16, 2021
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Childhood surroundings shouldn’t define people

By Angie Tayamo

We may be past the years of racial segregation, but perhaps there the new classism is the idea of neighborhood separation. 

Many individuals ask themselves what makes up their identity. Is it their culture? Ethnicity? Skills? Gender? Appearance? Maybe it’s a combination of all these factors. To some people, our identity reflects who we are, which can be perceived as a reflection of the neighborhood we grew up in. 

Everyone grew up in a different neighborhood, which may range from the ideal American dream white picket fence to the ghetto. Among the rise of the separation of neighborhoods has manifested unspoken implications of which are better or worse. 

Those who live-in high-income neighborhoods believe they are socially and intellectually better than middle-class neighbors. Just the same, middle-class neighbors look down on and distinguish themselves from low-income neighborhoods, as they are considered to be the worst place to live. 

But the problem is not the people, nor the neighborhood, but rather society’s view of people in poverty. They put pressure on them to act a certain way and believe they must live to it. The American system is rigged to keep people in poverty and make it impossible for them to outgrow their environment. 

Low-budget education systems in low income neighborhoods cause the number of dropouts to increase and degree holders to decrease, thus keeping the same people in the same predicament, generation after generation.

People in poverty don’t get out, which is why the neighborhood you live in will define you and generations that follow. In the book “Great American City,” Robert J Sampson is correct in his statement ?— “Where you live profoundly shapes who you are. ‘I would go as far as to argue that what is truly American is not so much the individual but neighborhood inequality.’” 

We need to stop putting generalizations on low-income individuals and provide them with the tools they need to have a better life. 

The places where we grow up and the lifestyles we live play a huge part in who we become. The environment surrounding us contributes to what we’ll do in life, as well as our viewpoint on specific arguments. The viewpoint, personality, ego and opinion of someone who grew up in a wealthy neighborhood with higher education will be very different than someone who grew up in poverty with close to no education. 

In a New York Times op-ed, professor David L. Kirp argues that “having the opportunity to live in a peaceful neighborhood with good schools can transform lives.” 

People fear that when poor or low-income families move into their neighborhood that crime, drugs, bad public schools and higher taxes will follow them. These thoughts create negative stereotypes of segregated communities. 

Our neighborhood shape us — they place us in categories of economic stability, education and opportunity. Perhaps your environment does not define you, but it shapes your character and mindset, because everyone would be a radically different person if they grew up in a neighborhood opposite of the one they live in. 


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