There was an article recently about the decline of a small Pennsylvania town and I decided to respond to this person’s comment:
There have been a few comments about America being the problem or cause of the “Shamokins” of the world. I grew up in Pottsville, similar situation. I worked hard and took out loans to pay for college and moved to an area that is more in line with my values which seem to have slipped away from where I grew up. I now live in a vibrant, growing, culturally diverse, educated, progressive community with a strong economy. Yes it’s a shame that Pottsville or Shamokin have declined and are not the same booming coal havens of yesteryear but times change, places change, and not everything is “fixable.” What is beautiful about America is there are just as many thriving communities as those that have declined and we are all free and blessed to have the opportunity to pursue our dreams and not be “stuck” in places we don’t want to live. You don’t have to be wealthy to be successful and happy, you just have to be resourceful, willing to take risk and go after your dreams. Of course if you’d rather take the easy road and are ok with living in a depressed, stagnant world…well you are probably now living in the home I grew up in.
Well, there’s a problem there. Many people ARE stuck living where they live. Look at most major cities in America and you see that they are segregated by income, and thus (in this country) by race. The idea of meritocracy, or “work hard and you’ll do well” is only partially true. Some of us start way behind others from the get-go. Many history books, for example, tell us that segregation and the oppression of black people ended in the 1960′s. It didn’t. It’s only gotten worse, even if it’s no longer against the law. Those privileged enough to choose where they live can live in a progressive economically strong town, likely a suburb of a major city. But others cannot leave because the tools they have are not the tools required to succeed in our current school system, which favors writing, speaking, and presenting yourself in a particular way, and learning a particular history. What is there for those in the margins? America as a land may be beautiful, but those living within it often forget the massive cultural oppression that it’s built on. We are still hurting from the effects of the slave trade, Native American displacement, and the conquest of Mexican territories, even if we don’t want to admit it.