Axia College UOPX
April 1, 2012
Race and My Community
Even though community leaders, educators, and various groups in my community have fought and continue to fight for equal rights and treatment for all races, discrimination still plagues my community. Diversity in my community is limited, the lack of diversity causes many of the citizens of my community to be unfamiliar with other races and cultures which leads to ignorance, which leads to discrimination.
I have lived in Galion, OH for almost three months. Galion is a small city about one and a half hours from the state capital of Columbus. The racial differences that are so different in this amount of a distance are profound. On numerous occasions I have encountered racism, bigotry, and intolerance directed toward various minority groups.
The vast majority of people in my community are very similar to me in appearance. The population is primarily made up of Non-Hispanic Whites. The people of my town are not exposed to many races or ethnic groups, there is very little diversity; in contrast, Columbus has a much greater minority population, which I believe is the reason for the noticeable differences discrimination and bigotry. See Figure 1 below.
As Figure 1 shows my community is basically 100% white. As of the year 2011, Non-Hispanic Whites totaled 96.1% of the population, the largest minority, two or more races, only totaled 2.5%; compared to Columbus, as of the year 2011, Non-Hispanic Whites totaled 62.1% of the population, while the largest minority group is Blacks which account for 25.7% of the total population of the city (City-Data.com, 2011). While both cities show very low diversity, Galion has virtually no minorities living in the city.
This lack of diversity is not a recent phenomenon and from what I have seen it has not changed much since 2011. It is not uncommon for people in my community to use racial slurs in the course of every day conversation. Some people I even consider friends and I must admit even some of my family members will frequently use racial epithets. I believe that the lack of diversity in my community has led to the assumption by many that it is all right to use this type of language. Most of the people who use discriminatory phrases do so almost on an unconscious level; their parents did it, they heard it growing up and they have never been in a situation where they were faced with diversity.
The local government of Galion is composed of a City Council and a Mayor, the city government has little power to influence the way minorities are treated within the city. I recently spoke with the mayor about the issues facing those few minorities that do live in our city. Mayor Deborah K. Dobson said that she felt there truly was not issue. She stated that state anti-discriminatory laws protected the minority citizens of this city, and she believed that the Galion City Council should focus its efforts on managing the city and focusing on what they can do to benefit everyone in the city, such as job creation, municipal services, etc. I asked Mayor Dobson if she has ever used or overhead the use of derogatory language, she indicated that she had both, but did not see the harm in it since it was not directed toward any one particular person or group (personal communication, March 24, 2012).
It was astounding to me that the two term mayor of this city does not see the need for any protections on the city level for our minority citizens; however, the most unbelievable aspect of the interview was the fact that she freely admits to using and/or tolerating the use of racially discriminatory language. I believe that again this is a result of the sheer lack of diversity in our community, the mindset that it is all right to use racially charged language if it is not directed at a specific person, or if a person from that minority group is not in earshot.