Thursday, November 16, 2006

Social Implications of Borders and Diversity

Borders are not solely dangerous physical limitations but also very dangerous social limitations. Jacobs, for very good reasons, chose not to address these social boundaries that exist within cities, but implicitly hinted at their effects. I found it quite interesting how well the two chapters concerning diversity and borders fit together. A point Jacobs doesn’t explicitly make but I felt was a strong notion was that fact that this lack and presence of diversity depend on the borders that the city creates.

Jacobs speaks of businesses moving to where the most profit occurs at a particular time and location in the city. With this grand relocation they destroy the physical diversity that once thrived. These thriving portions of the city always rely on location. These locations depend on the borders that surround them. Like Jacobs stated, the borders are hardly places where diversity could ever thrive, in fact, hardly any citizens of the city inhabit these borders. These borders many times mark the position where certain districts in the city begin and where they end.

Naylor spoke of the wall that served as a border between Brewster Place and the more upscale portions of the city. The wall is a not only a constant reminder of the physical barrier that separates Brewster Place but it also serves as a social reminder of their lower class status. Jacobs mentions that she will not discuss the social aspect of borders in cities but I believe that is a very important factor. The physical borders Jacobs so accurately describes has an unbelievable effect on the people affected by those borders.

Examples of the social impact due to borders are the statements people make when they talk about the projects. As Chris Rock once said, “Black people don’t want to live in the ghetto either.” Different bordered communities have stereotypes that the people that live there feel more comfortable that those people that enter in without living there. The mayor of Newark, NJ, although black, and living in the projects, probably does not feel welcome there for a number of other reasons. As we get farther into this class I begin to notice that most of the social borders put up between people are ones concerning class, rather than race. I am not trying to say that racism is not a problem, but when I think of problems facing prejudices, I believe that people within their own race judge one another based on class. Borders and the desire to get into certain locations in the city cause these class issues.