Monday, October 24, 2011

Community Irritations

"Nothing good ever comes out of South Seattle."

Those were the words I heard from a security officer at the Homecoming Dance on Saturday night and it unfortunately reflects the opinion of far too many people in this area. I love this city with all my heart, but Seattle is snobby. I have, more than once, received "the look" from people who live in Seattle when they find out that I don't live within city limits. Aside from the neighborhood snobbery, there is a definite cold shoulder given to the south end of the city itself...which happens to be where I teach.

I hate this attitude. I deal with it all the time; from comments on local news stories that happen to mention my school or the neighborhood I live in, to people in the grocery store who hear where I teach and give me the raised eyebrow and the sympathetic head shake.

You know what comes out of South Seattle?

  • First generation college kids whose parents are immigrants who didn't graduate from high school and don't speak a word of English
  • Kids who help opposing players on the football field and basketball court back to their feet after a hard hit, and then compliment them on a great play
  • Somali refugees who arrive from a country with no functional government and one of the lowest literacy rates in the world and leave as high school graduates who then return to help others in their community
  • Girls who finish high school with a baby on their hip, even though their mothers didn't make that same choice
  • Kids who choose their teacher to be their "parent" at a recognition, because their parents are working three jobs in order to support their family and allow their kids to go to school instead of go to work
  • A football team that has learned a hard lesson about picking themselves up and getting past a seemingly insurmountable hurdle....and has learned how to lose gracefully
  • Kids that have learned how to accept blame, learn from their mistakes, and move on
  • Kids that can clearly articulate problems in the world today and suggest solutions that make sense
  • Kids who graduated from my school 5 or 10 years ago and come back to teach there again, because they went away, grew up, and came back to give back to the people who made them who they are
  • People that are funny, beautiful, quirky, diverse, and compassionate

Now to be fair, there are some problems in South Seattle. Just like there are problems in North Seattle, in Magnolia, in downtown, and on the East Side. But labeling an entire community like that irks me...especially from someone in a position of authority.

So here's to ending snobbery, keeping an open mind, and looking for nontraditional beauty in the community you live in.


Lisa E said...

Where is the like button on this thing?

James Boutin said...

Well said.

Shannyb said...

It is so disheartening that a school so shockingly free of cliques and bullying is bullied by its community.

Katy said...

I'm pretty sure you teach at the school I graduated from and I wish everyone in the greater Puget Sound area would read and appreciate this post. Thank you.

Pernicious Panda said...

Excellent list. Really well said.