Monday, November 1, 2010
Thanks to Obama
We live in a "up and coming" neighborhood. We are in between a really nice, gentrified neighborhood near the Art Museum, with lots of young, mostly white couples and college age students, and a really, really poor urban neighborhood consisting mostly of minorities. The gentrification is moving through our area, but it's slow going since the whole economic disaster started. Our block is about 50% African American and 50% white, give or take a few percentages. Our block has abandoned houses on it (although nobody seems to use them), and we live one block from Girard. If you cross over Girard, you are in a pretty poor, nearly all African American neighborhood with high crime rates and very bad schools. There are very few restaurants in our area and the ones that are there are the cheap pizza or Chinese food places. We do have a Rita's Water Ice and a nice coffee shop is moving in, but the area is definitely depressed. Also, there are no grocery stores. There are corner stores, but no real grocery, with milk, fresh fruit and veggies, etc. We moved here because it's cheaper to live here. We've got a really nice house that was recently redone and a nice big backyard. The kids play on the streets and most of the neighbors are friendly. There's plenty of parking (if you drive) and it's close to Fairmount Park and the Schuylkill Trail and a quick bike ride to school. The neighbors all look out for each other, help sweep the streets, hand out candy to the kids on Halloween, take care of each other's sidewalks in the winter, etc. A real nice community. Surrounded by a mostly minority neighborhood. As a consequence, the people who send out the fliers and the information about voting tend to think we are African American. I've had phone calls from Jesse Jackson, talking about Dr. King's sacrifice so we can vote (technically true, but I'm pretty sure not entirely meant for me). I've received fliers telling me not to vote for Pat Toomey because he's against the Civil Rights Act and does not support minority owned businesses (yes, these are things I am concerned with, but again, not entirely my demographic - also, seriously? How can you be AGAINST the CIVIL RIGHTS ACT?). I've received other fliers of people running pictured with Obama, and other fliers featuring smiling African American families (which appear to include Mom, Kids, Grandma, but no Dad) talking about how they support a particular candidate. Granted, none of this bothers me in any way. It's just interesting to be considered to be part of a group that I am normally not in. I guess I've never been inundated with fliers that aren't aimed at my demographic (and, from what I hear, it's the African Americans and minorities who voted for Obama that are desperately needed to turn out in this election). And I wonder how much things have changed because we have an African American President. I've noticed more black men in advertisements for fine clothes or designer watches (like in the Macy's ads). I've noticed more billboards and more bus stop signs with African American men and women on it, advertising a large number of products, not just minority aimed products. I've noticed more commercials with African American men or women in professions (such as playing a doctor or a lawyer). I've noticed more groups on the news or reality TV having more that just one or two people representing minorities. I wonder if there really are more minorities being represented on TV, or if I am just more aware of it? Perhaps I've just been paying attention more lately. But I do have to say, being considered to be part of a coveted demographic (even if I am not one) is an interesting thing. It's interesting to see a glimpse of what urban African Americans might be looking for in a candidate. Gun control is emphasized a lot, for example. The bank bailouts are not. What I can say is that there is a HUGE push to Get Out the Vote in my neighborhood. I hope it works.