NIMBY….it is a concept that rears it’s ugly head too often in the American social culture.

While many will agree, in theory, certain things need to be accomplished for the betterment of society as a whole; too often those same people will complain and argue profusely IF that public good or social program will actually be in their own community.

I raise this subject today, because this morning, when I opened my morning newspaper, The Buffalo News,  the headline which greeted me was “NOT in My Backyard”.   The story went on to detail a report conducted by the University of Buffalo about suburban economic segregation and discrimination that is going on in the region where I live, and I suspect goes on in other areas as well.

According to the report many Erie county suburbs are “rife with discrimination and segregation”.  The number of stereotypes about the poor, minorities and the disabled of many suburban residents and their leaders creates an exclusionary atmosphere which makes providing affordable housing projects and objectives difficult to enact and thus makes it difficult, if not outright impossible for many of modest means to improve their living situations and gain access to safer communities and schools.

It doesn’t take much to make the leap that if there are such barriers in housing  they extend to other areas as well, such as employment opportunities, which in our region, as well as many others in the nation, ALSO moved to the suburbs.

While there are small enclaves in the region that buck this trend, those are not the norm and are unusual.  Finding these few enclaves and gaining access to them is also difficult, as they are small and not very transitory, thus people in those areas don’t tend to move often and thus available housing in those areas is limited.

 

It is rather covert form of discrimination and unless someone lives in the area and understands how things work they may not realize this truth to be reality.   Things are often said behind closed doors or when not in mixed company that tell the TRUE story of what is behind much of these policies and actions of the people in the communities involved.  Unless one has access to those closed door or behind the scenes discussions, one would not realize the extent of the ingrained social racism that is evident to those who DO have such access.

There is a local ‘joke’  in some circles, that if one lives in one tony suburb in WNY ( where our pro football team’s stadium resides)  one should not be driving or living in that town IF one is of color WITHOUT a Bills jersey on…sadly, there is too much truth to that statement.  Very few African Americans or other minorities live in that town other than professional football players. It is well known in the region, that if one is a minority, they probably shouldn’t be driving through that town unless it’s game day,  especially at night or risk being pulled over for ‘driving while black’.

Recently, I was talking with a new professor at my school, who is NOT from the area. She recently moved here and has never lived in the region before.  She is obviously not ‘lily white’.  When she moved to the region she chose to live near the school she is teaching at, due to weather and driving concerns.  That would be a logical step for her to take, however, when some local people asked her WHY she chose to live in that town…she didn’t understand the question or why it would be a problem.  She actually told the story herself and was the one who mentioned that  she herself didn’t understand, at FIRST, what they were trying, nicely to tell her.  As she is a cultural anthropologist, it took her a minute, after asking some pertinent questions, to figure out what was REALLY meant.  She, who is well educated and understands cultural biases and social issues very well, didn’t realize that the area she moved into is not known for it’s acceptance of those of different ethnic backgrounds, imagine how it would be for someone without such training!

The concepts that lead to such social and cultural exclusions, are ingrained in many within our American culture and the election of a Black man into the White house has done nothing to alleviate these problems, in some ways it’s actually brought these issues back to the forefront and has shed more light on the subtleties of discrimination and how it creates different classees of people, both socially and economically.

These social and economic class issues are at the heart of many of our national problems and probably are a contributing factor that keeps the likes of the Koch brothers and Sarah Palin able to continue their divisive tactics that simply keep us from uniting as a people and seeing one another as human beings first, Americans second  and whatever else one maybe should be a far third or fourth on the list.

WE are all human beings, regardless of sex, social class, state and town of residence, economic status, educational or ethnic background or religious affiliation.  As residents of this nation we are ALL Americans…again regardless of the above subcategories.  The subcategories should not matter as much as the TWO primary categories.  When we allow people to divide us along these subcategory lines and create barriers based on these lines we do a disservice to ourselves, our nation and our progeny.

I urge everyone to take stock of their own divisions and make an effort to try and recognize them and address them for the betterment of us all.

The concept of NIMBY in most cases, is just not justified and actually hurts the whole for the benefit of a few.

 

 

http://www.buffalonews.com/city/article361047.ece

 

Previous articleThe Daily Planet, Vol. 17
Next articleThe Daily Planet, Vol. 18
For the last 21 years, I worked in international trade as a licensed customs broker, international freight forwarder and international trade consultant. I ended up in that business after having studied Journalism and communication in college. (Strange how that worked) Over the last 3 years I have been trying to change my life and my career, so I left my job, returned to school and am on the last leg of completing my Bachelor's of Science in Business Administration and Economics, and am planning on going on for my masters in International Business. It might seem odd that I decided to formally study the business I was in for 21 years...but there is a reason for that... I hope to teach and write on the subject in the future. I'm a mother of 2 young adults and have many hobbies; reading, researching, writing, blogging, decorating, are my current favorites.

31
Leave a Comment

Please Login to comment
9 Comment threads
22 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
11 Comment authors
chazmaniaQuestiniachoiceladyArtist50Chernynkaya Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
chazmania
Guest

The Divide and conquer strategy that has now become part of the normal American culture and used by our politics and corporates for selling us candidates and products seems to me the core of the problem.. We have a clear prejudice against the poor..Our bankers target and prey on the poor. Keep us divided and mistrustful of our fellow citizens because they are “different” therefore the company store is the only place left to go… Add that to the Banking Mafias engineered culture that states if you don’t have a credit score (been in dept to the banks) you are… Read more »

Questinia
Member

On the other hand there are developers who have mixed low income and previously homeless people with wealthy people who pay top dollar to live with them.

choicelady
Member

Ques – that is the goal, it seems to work, but you have to pull teeth with some (most) developers to get this done. Our county just voted to ELIMINATE what had been a mixed-income requirement from the housing code. Another part of class warfare.

choicelady
Member

Abby – you aren’t going to believe this, but I lived in Buffalo, too. You are very correct about the issues that divide the suburbs and city. I lived in the city, Elmwood corridor, and the area around Linwood, Delaware, Main were where ALL the services for those in need were located. I must say that people who opted to live downtown or south of Hertel were pretty good about it all – part of the urban fabric etc. But we all knew we were top heavy because – gasp – you could not put “those” people “out here with… Read more »

Artist50
Member
Artist50

There’s one thing that binds a small town together and that’s because everyone knows everyone else. I went back to my hometown to care for my mother for three years and worked at the hospital because there’s no where else to work! I’m talking under 20K with one high school and no matter how long you’ve been gone people remember you. What you do have is a class structure but you’ve all been mixing it up since elementary school so the boundaries are blurred. You don’t see the lines as divided as you do in the city. You see plenty… Read more »

Chernynkaya
Member

About 15-20 years ago (or less, it’s hard to keep track) my neighborhood in the San Fernando suburb of LA suddenly seemed to have a large influx is Latinos. I was cool with that. And there were the occasional local news story about that in some regard or other—nothing panicky or even particularly racist. Probably it was about the schools and about English as a second language vs bilingual education. I was fine with either, more or less. And a little time went by, and there were small markets that sprung up catering to the new clientele, and some small… Read more »

jkkFL
Guest

We have a little different problem here.. about fifty thousand registered sex offenders- about half in Central FL. Every month, in the US, another thousand are released, and I swear they are given a bus ticket and a map to FL. There are strict ordinances determining where they live(proximity to schools, churches and parks.) But every week, we hear of bus monitors, custodians, fry cooks,theme park workers and transients attempting to molest or abduct children. Many live in tents in wooded areas behind subdivions and recreational areas. These camps are huge- not just a few tents.. If there are 50,000… Read more »

ADONAI
Member

People have an incredible need to belong. A need that has been exploited since the dawn of civilization. The easiest, most identifiable way to belong is race. There is still debate as to how but we know that eventually we moved out of Africa and spread all across Europe and Asia. And from there to the Americas and many islands in between. Different races evolved and there was never really any historical record to connect them to their beginnings. Ethnocentrism evolved as each race believed there’s to be the most important in existence. Their GODS ruled the skies,their customs were… Read more »

KillgoreTrout
Member

Adonai, like George Carlin said, “We should all keep fucking until we’re all one color.”

ADONAI
Member

KT, First off, great Carlin quote

And second, some scientists believe that is exactly what we’re doing!

KillgoreTrout
Member

Makes sense to me.

Pepe Lepew
Member

A little off-topic because this isn’t about class or race, but when I was a small-town journalist, I felt like half of what I covered was NIMBYism. Some NIMBYism is OK, like some wealthy asshat buying a parcel of land in a semi-rural neighbourhood and then attempting to build a helipad on the property, because he didn’t feel like landing his private helicopter at an airport three miles away. Or another guy who had a septic pumping business building septage treatment ponds on his property in a residential neighbourhood without any permits. Some NIMBYism got pretty ridiculous. I’ll never forget… Read more »

JSand
Member
JSand

I remember reading and seeing some history programs on the Green Bay Packers’ Black players experience in Green Bay. It was to say the least, surprising although probably not really.

I was told by more than one person in the legal system that I was fortunate to be white and male when I got in to a bit of a legal tangle many years ago. Raceism hangs on for deal life behind the scenes, and explodes when times get tough. This is another reason the American Taliban (Tea Party) is expanding.