Week 5: Reaction to the Readings for Metro Richmond Paper

Recently, I had never really understood my place in society. I would say that I grew up unintentionally uninformed. My was born in Nigeria and came to the States when she was about 21, so she wasn’t necessarily as focused on teaching my siblings and I American customs and history but more on creating a life for us. Because of my background and where I lived, a predominantly black neighborhood in Maryland, I wasn’t very sure about the context in which I was living, how I got to be where I was, or any of those things, but coming to Richmond has really opened my eyes to a lot. Specifically working on the paper this week and thinking about what a ghetto really means, the readings of Wacquant and Pattillo-McCoy really got me thinking about my upbringing, my  “place” in society, and how that would/could effect my future. Now I haven’t figured everything out in the span of a week, but it has certainly opened my eyes to why certain things in my life, specifically in my academic life and worldview, are the way they. For example, in my home when I was growing up, we didn’t have many books, so therefore my vocabulary isn’t as enhanced as it could have been (research shows when there are books in the home, children are likely to have a wider range of vocabulary). So coming to school and reading things like Great American City by Sampson or even understanding Wacquant’s theoretical stance on poverty is hard to understand because I don’t understand the language; it’s like I have to look up every other word in the readings to keep up. Because of this, it made me reflect on my education growing up and I didn’t live in what Pattillo would consider a “buffer neighborhood” and my schools did as best they could to give me a good public education (I would think but with my knowledge of the public school system who knows), but coming to school and being surrounded by a different group of people has definitely opened my eyes to the cultural differences my peers and I share. It is great that readings like Wacquant and Wilson can open my mind to see those structural forces in place but it is also nerve-wrecking because I don’t know how much it will continue to effect my future.

Mapping RVA: Racial Separation and Concentrated Poverty in Richmond (Part 2 of 3)


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HOME (Housing Opportunities Made Equal) has done a series of reports on housing and opportunities for social mobility, and these reports contain terrific maps illustrating some of the themes we’ve been talking about (and some more sophisticated than what Social … Continue reading