Tuesday, August 16, 2011

ROSE COLORED NEIGHBORHOOD

I live in the same neighborhood that I did while I was growing up.  It has changed a lot.  The houses are much older.  The streets are not as clean ans smooth as they use to be.  But the biggest change in the neighborhood is the racial make up.  When I was growing up it was your typical fifties or sixties white suburban neighborhood  Now it is a definite majority of blacks living here. I don't think that is a bad thing.  I feel safe living here.  The people have not changed so much as just the color of their skin.

Everyone wants to believe they live in a safe place and I suppose I am no different.  Perhaps I do look at my neighborhood through rose colored glasses.  There is definitely crime in the area.  There is more crime than I remember growing up.  But the crime does not seem to be over taking the community. 

Crime is up all through the Kansas City area.  Every neighborhood has crime and it is on the rise.  Neighborhoods all around me are seeing this take place and it is taking place on both sides of the state line.  The crime reported on the news from the Ruskin area is no more nor less than other parts of the city.  The trouble is that Ruskin has developed a reputation over the years for being a very dangerous place.  Whenever I hear someone say that it kind of makes me smile inside while at the same time irritates me to death.

The local news either makes a big deal out of a crime n Ruskin because it is SO bad of an area or they make a big deal out of a crime in Johnson county Kansas because it is such a good area.  From what I see the numbers are not that different and Ruskin is not that much worse than several communities in the area.

If you want to look up the neighborhood I refer to with google maps or whatever, here is what I consider to be my neighborhood.  It is located on the south side of Kansas City just north of a small city called Grandview.  It is bordered to the north by 107th street, to the south by Longview Road, to the east by Raytown road and to the west by Blue Ridge.  It is a fairly large area.

We have had our share of meth houses.  We have had a few shootings but very few killings.  There is an extremely small problem with home breakins and no home invasions that I can recall.  Every once in a while a gas station or small store may be robbed but those are few and far between.

There is a drug problem out south, I won't deny it.  It is worse than it was when I was in high school but then again, the drug problem is worse everywhere in the city.  As a matter of fact from the news I watch locally the crime is up everywhere.

The sad part is that people think they can run away from these problems.  They can't.  The problems of drugs and crime are not a black problem nor a white or Hispanic problem.  It is a societal problem that wil follow you no matter how far out into Kansas you may move to try to run away from it. 

I am of the firm belief that if law abiding citizens who care about where they live would stay instead of running away, then perhaps the crime problem would not be quite as bad as it is.  This is what happened to Ruskin.  White people got scared or refused to live next to black people.  To me it ignorance to the max.  The more people fled, the lower house prices dropped and soon the community became just a little bit poorer that it was a few years before.

The thing is that the blacks that were moving out south were moving to what they wanted which was a safer neighborhood in which to raise their kids.  They are in a safer neighborhood now but it could be a lot safer if people would use their brains instead of their emotions at times.  The white flight from Ruskin left us with a very high number of rental houses.  Rental houses mean instability and do not help the consistency of a community.

Here is a true story.  The house next to me had a nice white family living in it.  It was a rental house.  The landlord (from Johnson County... just saying) told the young man if he painted and worked on the house he would take it off his rent.  So the young man worked and worked on the house.  Then the landlord came and told him the house was in such goo.d shape, he was going to have to raise the rent.  The young family could not afford the new rent and had to move out.

The family that replaced them were a crazed bunch of idiots you would expect to see on IFC on a Friday night.  They absolutely terrorized the neighborhood, particularly my family.  We put up with them for almost two years complaining to the landlord numerous times and having to call the police out to the house when they got really wild.  Finally the landlord decided to sell the house and so they had to move.

He sold the house to a black couple about our age. They are the nicest people and I honestly could not ask for a better neighbor than Big Bob.  He keeps a watch on the houses around the block and keeps all the kids in line up and down the street. We talk often on his front porch.  He would do anything for me if I needed help, as I would him.  He has helped push my car through a snow drift in my driveway.  He keeps the hedges on our fence line nice and trim and I cut the mutual yard between our houses.

Our street is about 60/40 black to white and it is a good ratio.  We have not had any race problems on our street.  We have not had any break ins that I know of and violence is all but gone from our block since that one crazed couple left.

Black and white CAN live together.  Blacks are not born violent or hateful of whites just as whites are not born that way either.  Sometimes the music gets too loud at one of the houses, usually when the parents are not home and all it takes is a small walk and a polite request to get the music under control.

I am proud of my block.  I am proud of my neighborhood and I am proud of my city and State.  Crime is out there for sure.  But one thing I have learned is that you can not run away from crime.  It happens in urban areas, suburban areas and rural areas.  We have to be good neighbors and watch out for one another to fight any crime that might come our way.  If we work side by side, black and white, rich and poor, I sincerely believe we can keep the crime level to a manageable level.

A lot of you may think I am foolish in my thinking.  So be it.  I am willing to be a fool.  I have been my whole life anyway.  But I am a fool that believes in the over all and majority goodness of mankind.

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