Misconception #1

The other day I was talking with one of the girls I mentor and thought I would pose the question of misconceptions to her.  Who better to share than one has experienced the labels and misconceptions most of her life?  So I asked her, “What are things that you think people mistakenly believe about those who live in our neighborhood?”  Right away she responded, “Others think we’re all bad people since they see the bad things on the news, stories that show the gang bangers or the nasty parts of our neighborhood.  But there are good people here who care about the community.”

I believe her statement highlights one of the largest misconceptions I hear not only for our neighborhood but for those living in lower-income areas with high crime all over the world.  “There is an expectation that they are all selling drugs and have a criminal record” stated a friend of mine when I asked her what misconceptions she’s heard.  While there are drug dealers, gang bangers, and crime present, and these are what gets the media’s attention, there are so many in the neighborhoods not doing these things and doing their part to contribute positively to their communities.  Having the misunderstanding that the majority of the people are “bad people” (to quote my mentee) is unfair to the community, to the individuals contributing in positive ways as well as to those who are the gang bangers, the drug dealers, the criminals.

What are your thoughts?  Have you heard this misconception from others, or perhaps had it yourself?

 
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3 thoughts on “Misconception #1

  1. JB says:

    It is great to hear the girl’s words and thoughts. I can understand how the feeling is outsiders are judging everyone as “bad”, and perhaps from some it is true. But I don’t think that is true of most. As I thought about this, it occurred to me the idea that most people who live outside of low income neighborhoods think most residents are “bad” people may be as mistaken as the idea that most people who live in higher income neighborhoods are judging. I think we are all guilty of stereotyping at times. As a white female from a more expensive neighborhood, I am very aware that others also judge me incorrectly. I do not think I am superior, or better. When I am in high crime areas I realize there are mothers just like me, just living in different circumstances. With the same dreams and overwhelming love for their kids, friends and neighbors. For me, I wish I could communicate to the people in these neighborhoods, I don’t think they are all bad or all that different from me. I know their lives are more difficult than mine in some ways, and I respect them for being good mothers, friends and neighbors, and (just like me) struggling to be the best person they can. As for me I often fall short, so I am in no position to judge anyone else. The neighborhood you come from or live in is one of the worst things to judge someone by. For most of us where we live (good or bad) has less to do with us than just where we happened to be born. WHO we are and how we live is far more important, and we can’t know that until we get to know people.

    • so true, misunderstanding what people are like who live in different areas, neighborhoods, cities, and countries is so easy to do! it’s hard to break through those differences and communicate who we truly are to people in those different circumstances, to break bast the barriers. At the same time though I think breaking those barriers and placing yourself in a position to learn from others is where true growth happens.

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