Racial Segregation Produces Distinct Racial Realities

July 23, 2015

Something I have thought about a lot over the last few weeks, months, years, is the fact that a person's reality is their reality. It is hard to persuade people that their reality is so different than someone else's. But here is the thing, we live segregated lives in our workplaces, in our friendships and in our neighborhoods. Sure, we can point to surveys that say things have improved but not by nearly enough. And most people who have friends cross racially have like ONE friend of a different race. I should say blacks tend to have more racially diverse friendship networks than whites. Blacks continue to face higher rates of residential segregation than other racial groups so our experiences are more hidden from the public eye. If you don't live in the same neighborhoods as blacks it is hard to see/ conceive of how differently blacks are treated by the police. Because we live in racially segregated neighborhoods (sure, there are exceptions), some of us can get a better standard of care while others get a lower and unacceptable standard of care. Some of us see an officer in the neighborhood and think either nothing of it, or view it positively, as a sign of increased safety. Others see an officer in their neighborhood and fear that they will be viewed as the threat. How do we address this divide in understanding that is derived from a fundamental difference in our lived experience? Also, I know that there are plenty of great officers but this is not just a problem of bad apples. It is a problem that is both systemic and ideological/cultural. And by cultural I mean, American society demonizes some of its children and endows others with privilege and innocence.

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University of Maryland, College Park

© 2015 by Dawn M. Dow. Created with Wix.com

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