The image I held in mind of a Ghetto was developed over the 80’s and 90’s with visual cues broadcast over the television of neighborhoods in decay, a place where the poorest people lived. This is what I thought before circumstance brought me to the Ghetto and I realized my definition was markedly deficient.
Being White, female, and single, I was shocked by the Ghetto I now live and a bit fearful. Most of my neighbors are drug addicts and gunfire is as common a sound as women arguing with their man around midnight. The Ghetto is void of color, civility, and the average income is below standard. I also have come to learn there is a high number of uneducated people. Speaking with a woman down the street, I mentioned Communism and she asked, “What’s Communism?” Merced, California, in 2015, ranked seventh on a list of cities in the U.S with the highest crime rate per capita. Also, in April 2016 Merced was given the prestigious title of Murder Capital of California.
In all my fifty-three years of life, I never had witnessed a person being shot, heard rapid gunfire in the night then in the morning learn that a young man was murdered in those rounds. I never witnessed drug raids by the police with their guns drawn nor have I been the victim of an assault by a female gang member. I had never been attacked by three pit bulls while out walking my dogs. Forced to live with polluted creeks and tolerate the trash thrown onto the lawn and in the bushes. In fact, trash is everywhere in the Ghetto and is as normal as the junk piled three feet high on sidewalk corners. Fences are falling apart, dogs run in packs, and dirt is the most common ground cover for front lawns. When a rental unit becomes vacant, the owner boards up the windows with plywood and weeds take over the yard to grow more than two feet tall. Such a wonderful sight to brighten one’s mood.
Sadly, there is a cycle to the longevity of a Ghetto; Ignorance will breed poverty, poverty will breed tolerance and tolerance will breed acceptance. When this formula is brought into play a new generation will be born to continue the Ghetto Hood.