The view from my back porch,Wilkes-Barre, PA; August 2011
I learned from a friend this week that my neighborhood in Wilkes-Barre has a reputation for being dangerous. Go figure. After being here for a month and a half, I have not seen, heard, or smelled anything that made me feel unsafe or worried. Yes, I’m aware that it’s a working class neighborhood, but does is poor a synonym for violent? To me, poverty is violence.
Perhaps I’m just oblivious, and maybe not seeing the alleged danger in my neighborhood is the same blindness to “reality” that has led me to other places where most people I know would never venture. I’ve been warned of being raped in Guatemala, abducted in Mexico, and even told to wear a helmet in the West Bank. All these warnings, of course, came from people who have not been to these places—they’ve never played soccer there, attended graduation parties, or marched in parades with the community members.
I just Googled my current neighborhood and was disturbed when reading a discussion board by a guy moving to the area who asked for advice on choosing a location. He wrote, “prices are so cheap in W-B I’m tempted but I don’t want to end up in a war zone where they use white people for target practice.”
A war zone? In Wilkes-Barre???? The only war going on here is an economic one, and people of all colors are being targeted. So shut up and open your eyes, asshole.
Obviously this makes me angry. And sick to my stomach. Just like it causes me serious pain to leave the “dangerous” places I’ve lived and go back to the boundaries of a comfy life in “safe” places. I find a lot more walls and limitations in the latter locales than anywhere else.