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?