Race and My Community By Cristina Arra Hamilton

I am excited to write this blog, the timing for the topic, Race and My Community, couldn’t be more appropriate for this is an exciting time in my community; it’s election time. I live in Charlotte, NC and during this course of this Mayoral election, I have been following, volunteering and promoting the new Mayor -Elect for Charlotte Mecklenburg, Mr. Anthony Foxx. This was a very exciting campaign because Charlotte has had the same Mayor for the past 14 years and it’s definitely time for change. I moved to Charlotte, NC January 2000 and at that time I lived in a sort of diverse neighborhood there are Mexican Americans, African Americans and some immigrants from Africa, Mexico and several other Latin countries. At that time I wasn’t interested in who was Mayor and who controlled the city. I was rarely here for it to make a difference. I was a flight attendant and on my days off I’d fly home to Miami, Fl to be with my son and Grandmother. It wasn’t until after I moved my son here and started working in the city that I began to notice the people in the communities outside of my neighborhood. The majority of them did not look or think like me. However they seemed to be very interested in me.
The community I live in now is semi-diverse as well. On my block, for example, there are two Asian American families, an Mexican American Family and the rest is half African American and Caucasian.  I don’t see any families speaking to other ethnic groups for instance the white neighbors sit and talk with other white neighbors, the Mexican American neighbors only converse with other Mexican American neighbors.  I only know that there is an Asian Family on my block because I have seen them walking around the yard for a few minutes and taking out their garbage. Other than that, I never see them. As far as the African American families go, I rarely see them speaking to anyone, including other African American families. My family and I made an attempt to make friends with one African American family on my block but they were too interested in competing and trying to get into our personal lives. Being around people like that create lots of drama and it wasn’t worth the energy, so we stick to ourselves. Other than the occasional wave while walking my dog as neighbors pass our house in their cars, or on their daily stroll, there is no communication in the neighborhood.Foxx Charlotte
Leadership in My Community
As I stated earlier I wasn’t really concerned about the leadership in the community when first moving to Charlotte because of my schedule and my job I felt things that went on in my community and in the city had no direct affect on my life. I lived in an apartment complex so things like garbage services and water wasn’t a major concern.

Now that I think about it while living in that apartment complex, after sometime and more minorities moved in and we were subject to random tow trucks riding through the neighborhood and towing cars that had outdated inspection stickers and past due tags. This was not included in the lease and did not take place in the subdivisions nearby which were occupied by majority White Americans. In the community I live in now it’s a subdivision so each house is responsible for having their garbage on the curb to be picked up once a week, along with recycled goods and any leaves and branches left over from lawn care. However, I hadn’t heard much about many leaders in the community didn’t know who they mayor was until April 2009 and he has been the mayor for over 14 years until November 2009. As far as city council and other members of the community goes I really had no interests in those people either until I realized that they control everything from education, funding for after school programs and others activities activities for youth. Which there was an abundance of during my son’s elementary school education. Once he reached middle school things changed and I became aware of how things are run in cities where leaders don’t look like, have not had similar life experiences as and care not to understand those who don’t look like, walk like or speak like them.
I need to mention that I did move away to another city in Florida for three years prior to moving back to Charlotte and April 2009. I was living in Tallahassee, Fl where the majority of the leadership is Republican.  Most of the city is controlled by them, and because of their fear of losing power Republicans in Tallahassee use manipulation and lies to keep their control. While using manipulation and mind games to instill fear in those they can’t seem to figure out. These are the people who own businesses, teach in the schools and make decisions for the citizens there. Those in control, move about and make decisions for others without considering their opinions. In most cases, the opinions of the citizens have been manipulated by the schemes and games from the RepubliKans. Resulting in mass confusion people are walking around like robots waiting for someone to instruct them on their next move. In Tallahassee minorities are not seen as equal unless they have some one from the majority on their side, meaning in control and knowing their every move. So their children will have problems in school, they will have problems at works and at home unless they have someone from the majority as a “friend” and in many cases that “friend” is a sheep in wolves clothing. They make sure minorities have those problem to keep them bound.

After being driven out of Tallahassee because I chose not to submit and subject myself of my son to the indirect ridicule bought on by those in charge, those RepubliKans (men) made it their business to let me know that this is how they run things no matter where I am. If they are in control they are determined to keep those who they believe to be subordinate, oppressed. They will take advantage of and abuse a individual, group, or organization’s strengths and play on and use their weaknesses as tool to control.

I know their game. I was in the Senate the last time health reform came around, and I saw the special interests savage our efforts. Frankly, under the old rules of Washington they were nearly impossible to beat. But now, thanks to you, the rules are changing. All the lies, scare tactics and lobbyist shake-downs in the world are no match for the incredible work of Organizing for America supporters like you. That’s exactly what frightens them so much — and it’s what Barack and I are counting on.”

This statement is from a letter I received from Vice President Joe Biden in regards to the Health care Reform. He is speaking about the Insurance companies who fear they will have financial problems if the Health care Reform is passed, the companies that are run by the Republicans who play the same games on all levels.

Since moving back to Charlotte this has been my experience in my community, my son started, public school, middle school, at a school so far from our home. The kids in the neighborhood are bussed there, the school is considered a Title I school, school for improvement. Now my neighborhood is a fairly nice neighborhood and many of the families here have been here for a long time and most of their children have graduated.  I am certain they went to school during a time where they weren’t bussed to a school where mostly minority children from low income homes attend. In other words this is not a low income neighborhood, however many of the people moving into the community are from various minority groups mainly African American. I am certain the leaders in the school makes those decision. After having several negative experiences at that school I chose to home school my son. It seems as if the school of improvement’s main goal was to put some sort of crutch on their students especially the black male students. If they made good grades there was going to be a behavior issue or vice verse. Children of single parent homes  seemed to be easy targets to be used against one another and to keep their children oppressed. When these things started happening to my son and I expressed my concerns to the administration and the school board. Two things happened, first thing, there was no investigation and the second thing my son treatment worsened. So basically nothing happened.
I took my son out of the public school system and home schooled him for the duration of the school year and the summer. This is what he experienced the following year after begging to return to public school. I took him to Northeast Middle School a, what I considered to be, diverse school. However according to the data reported on the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools profiles website the majority students affected by their end of grade testing are African American (CMS, 2008). When I enrolled my son at Northeast, which is about a five minute drive from my house, the registrar, who is African American proceeded to tell me how she was married to a white man and had an eighteen year old son who was in the military and how he was such a good boy. Her story was well rehearsed she shared it with me in hopes I would fill her in on future plans for my son. Judging by her actions and the various white women that came in and out of her office as we spoke she was to then fill the principal, a white male, in on whatever information I gave her.  He would then decide on whether to sabotage my son’s future or to let him be. Well she, the registrar, is not married and as far as that son goes, well you can figure that out. My point is this these are the games they play to keep our children LEFT BEHIND. So as parents we need to stay current and keep our minds open (“Rock the Vote”, 2009). This is an example of the treatment people like myself receive in communities where the majority feels minorities shouldn’t be heard or treated fairly. But because so many are used to it, The unfair treatment,  they think it’s the norm and the persons who suffer are the innocent children.

My Solutions
Once again I removed my son from the public school setting and home schooled him, the same patterned was developing and I’d emailed administration and also the superintendent, who did nothing. As I stated these events could not have taken place at a more appropriate time. Once I learned about the election and saw that one of the candidates looked like me, is a Charlotte native, and from a single parent home. I researched his political career, went to a live debate and watched a couple on TV. I was very impressed and I believe he can relate to the struggles of minorities especially male minorities. I wanted to do my part and helping him get elected and I decided to volunteer to help out his campaign. Once involved with the campaign I wanted to do more so I started sending emails and text messages promoting the democrat mayor candidate, to businesses, my friends and approaching people on the street asking them to pass it on to others with the community. I also started volunteering with organizations whose main goal was to inform the communities that are usually misinformed.

The Media
Though there are people in the local media in my community that look like me, many of the stories reported usually portray people that look like me in a negative manner. However, with the economy in the state its in and the shift of political control I am starting to notice other groups of people’s negative side in the media as well. When those stories are reported the excuse is usually “this behavior is a result of our current economy or unemployment rate”. There are no excuses for those groups of people that are negatively stereotyped. You know the people that look like me!The Foxx's

Time for change; now that we have a new mayor in our community and he is one who seems to understand what is needed to make a positive difference in the lives of individuals whose voices have been ignored for so long, is the first step in resolving some of the inequities that have existed for far too long. Once the leadership in my community make changes this behavior will trickle down the ladder affecting our schools, churches and community organizations positively. Will the games ever stop, just take a look at what’s happening in the white house and how so many organizations as well as members of Congress and the Senate are trying to keep the President distracted all because they don’t want equal opportunity in Healthcare. Is this an equal opportunity country? I would vote yes, now that we have elected a President who is committed to change. So Anthony Foxx let’s work together to change Charlotte into an equal opportunity community by “facing our issues head on” (Hicks III, 2009).


2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    UNITY said,

    What is xenophobia?

  2. 2

    TSwain said,

    I don’t usually reply to posts but I will in this case, great info…I will add a backlink and bookmark your site. Keep up the good work!

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