Tuesday, September 25, 2007

LA vs. NYC (vs SLO)

(This is Mary.) I spent 13 years of my life in LA, and for the most part, I enjoyed the city.

I moved away primarily because of the riots in 1992, when it suddenly became obvious to me that racism and violence were percolating under the (relatively) calm surface all the time. When it all exploded in our collective face, we shouldn't have been surprised. Los Angeles is a very segregated city, all the way down to people riding individually in their cars.

Yes, there is a hierarchy in NYC. Of course. There are mega, mega rich people, and very, very poor people.

But there is also a sense of integration here. On my commute each morning, I walk beside and sit beside people of all professions, all races, all sizes, all abilities, all education levels.

And we're all just people. We breathe, we perspire, we read books, we listen to iPods, we get impatient, we run for the subway doors as they close, we try and be polite as often as possible ... but we're all HUMAN.

On a related note: My time in San Luis Obispo was wonderful, but I think--despite some traveling during those years--that it insulated me to the point that I forgot about diversity. I think living in SLO reinforced some prejudices that, looking back, were quite terrible.

Now, it's no big deal to me what color someone's skin is. It is what it is. Certain groups have certain ways of dressing, and that's just the way it is. Knock on wood, no one has ever threatened me or scared me, and I have spent many, many hours commuting alone and walking through NYC alone. I have felt SLIGHTLY nervous just once.

I wish SLO was more diverse. I just don't know how it will ever happen.

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