Race in my community

Racial issues vary among communities, and the present paper introduces my residence place, the city of Sterling Heights. A short glimpse at the city demonstrates that its population is 124,471 people, including 33,395 families and 46,319 households (Zack, 2001).

“The racial makeup of the city is 90. 7% white, 1. 3% African American, 0. 21% Native American, 4. 92% Asian, 0. 04% Pacific Islander, 0. 34 from other races, and 2. 50% from two or more races. 1. 4% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. There is a large Chaldean community situated in a n area bound by 15 and 17 Mile Roads, between Dequindre and Mound Roads” (Zack, 2001, p. 482). In the present paper, I would like to describe my neighborhood and show race-related patterns, both constructive and destructive. In fact, the members of my community do not look like me, but due to the fact that I am of Caucasian descent, our dissimilarity is not very prominent or notable.

Although my race is normally included into the category of whites, Caucasians often have darker hair and eyes, so sometimes we are identified and treated as Hispanic Americans, furthermore, the members of my community often lack knowledge about my racial background. My lifestyle is absolutely similar to those, led by white Americans and I have no habits, normally attributed to Caucasians, except hospitability and less prejudicial attitude to strangers, i. e. I behave much more freely and naturally with unfamiliar individuals, as compared to typical white Americans from my community, who might skillfully cover their hostility under the mask of friendliness and acceptance. Thus, Caucasians are more expressive in terms of feelings and emotions, but, similarly to white Americans, we are not simple-minded or gullible at all (Blauner, 1994). As for the leaders of our community, they regard my family and other Caucasians very soundly and adequately.

If necessary, we can address our claims or problems to them, for instance, I remember a situation, when a 9-year-old Caucasian girl began to suffer from difficult depression, and our community, although composed mostly of white Americans, following the leaders’ initiative, supported this family, gathering certain material resources, finding a good professional in the sphere of mental health and helping the girl’s parents cope with the stress. However, this situation is rather an exception than a rule, as the leaders of our community normally have either indifferent or neutral attitude towards Caucasians until serious problems arise.

Fortunately, we are regarded without any susceptibility, whereas Hispanic and African Americans are often mistreated and their needs or problems are ignored by the leaders of the community. My neighbors and other members of our community have respect for our family, as our neighborhood normally values all those who have certain employment and are generally polite with others. On the other hand, once I heard a story from my friend of the same background, who complained about the local gang, which took pleasure from verbally abusing ethnic and racial minorities.

This event was, however, a particularity rather than a law, as Caucasians are innumerous and not segregated at all, so that they to assimilated with local whites to the desirable degree. Racial segregation is in fact heavily judged in our community, a number of newspapers wrote about African Americans: “The family lives in a west-side neighborhood where neatly kept ranch-style homes and wooden block club signs greet visitors. It’s a typical looking neighborhood in an area where manicured homes are the norm.

But beneath this beauty of the well-kept brick homes are the uncomfortable realities of life in the most segregated cities in America” (Hollinger, 1995, p. 348). Due to the fact that the 1943 Detroit Riots are still in the memory of the inhabitants, African Americans are often discredited in terms of their honesty and dependability, especially after the segregation. In fact, they are forced to live with fewer facilities, as minority communities often look underdeveloped comparing to the typical white neighborhoods, where all newest technological achievements ‘arrive’ at first.

The same situations often happens with Hispanic Americans, – in out neighborhood, they failed to find a common language with our community leaders and thus decided to move to another side of the city, to poorer and less ‘civilized’ blocks. This means, the members of our community are not actually tolerant to the archetypal ‘otherness’, as a number (especially seniors) share popular negative stereotypes about Asian, Hispanic and African Americans and might mention them as ‘drunkards’ or ‘potential criminals’ (Hollinger, 1995).

There is a number of other stereotypes and biases – for instance, when I was younger, I heard from my white classmate that all Latinos used magic and thus were excluded from our community. Interestingly, a number of the elderly, who can still recollect the 1943 events in Detroit, the nearby city, retell this story many times, again and again adding new ‘superstructures’ into their narrative: first, they describes the struggle between African Americans and whites, but later began to interlace the participation of Chinese and Hispanic with the picture of the riot.

Such memories resemble old letters, stored in a safe place like old woman’s casket – these letters are reread many times, and their owner seeks to add new details and new contexts to their general content. The texts I employed when writing the paper contain little information about Caucasians: as rule, we are described quite briefly (Zack, 2001; Blauner, 1994), but not only general information is available. For instance, Hollinger (1995) states that Caucasians to some extent attract white Americans, as their motherland (and automatically, this ethnic group) is associated with Ancient Greek culture, including myths and stories.

In addition, most Americans, knowledgeable about Caucasian race, classify us as individuals with impulsive temperament (Hollinger, 1995), yet in reality, people are very different even within the same racial/ethnic group. Furthermore, I haven’t yet found texts or manuals written by Caucasians, so in the future I plan to conduct document analysis of Caucasian immigration to the United States and write an article, which is likely to eliminate myths and biases about this group.

Media representations of Caucasians do not differ from those of whites; in fact, I noted no media biases. As a rule, newspaper articles and local news note Caucasians as members of the local football teams or organizers of events and positive PR-actions like those against HIV. During interviews, these people are asked very correct and police questions – for instance, football players and sportsmen are asked to focus on their impressions after tournaments, describe their experiences and tell more about their plans for the future.

In addition, I can remember an interview with the Caucasian participant of animal rights movement. As for me, I found no absurd questions or answers; on the other hand, the article was not associated with any kind of propaganda or expanded advertisement. Speaking about the formal leaders of our neighborhood (police officers for instance), it is important to note that they as qualified specialists are first who use the principle of ‘color-blindness’ and never mistreat minority groups, so I never feel inequality when interacting with them.

Our neighborhood is patrolled or visited by individuals of different racial and ethnic background; notably, there is a number of African Americans in the local law enforcement agency. As for the informal leaders (the most active neighbors, ‘responsible’ for cultural events as well as for spreading rumors), all of them are white. Although they can be really troublesome or persistent sometimes, they do not touch the issue of my family’s racial background, as we have positive reputation in the community.

Thus, I involve if necessary into community networks and the corresponding activities, like holidays or feasts. Nevertheless, I dare not state that minority interests are represented in my community, minority groups tend to avoid manifesting their interests, because of the situations, in which they were sharply criticized or mistreated. In addition, as I have mentioned above, there are very little alternatives for minorities – either segregation or assimilation (acculturation), – Arabs and Chinese Americans prefer the first option – in such ‘isolated’ neighborhoods, their interests are more often observed.

My group, on the contrary, is assimilated, so we often need to adjust our specific interests to those of the majority. In conclusion, I would like to suggest the major point to be changed in my community. In fact, the neighborhood’s cultural life is quite poor, so it would be interesting to arrange events, dedicated to Caucasian traditions, cuisine and so forth. For instance, Caucasians have a great dish, resembling our barbeque food, but the former includes more kitchen herbs and spices and thus might appear tasty to my neighbors.

Furthermore, the Caucasus region has very long history, so it would be interesting to arrange at the local school one special lesson, for which the students prepare the most remarkable aspects of the history of the locality. In my opinion, Caucasian cultural heritage is very rich, and, more importantly, undiscovered in this community, so I would like to introduce it to the people.