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When I first arrived in Charlotte, I was astonished by its beautiful skyline, suburban and urban vibe, and rich ethnic diversity. Since I directly flew in from Newark, NJ, I am a city girl at heart and love to make comparisons between cities I visit and my home city. Newark is more urban, densely populated, and bustling than Charlotte. However, I can see Charlotte reaching that point considering how fast its population has grown in the last few years.
Unfortunately, Charlotte did not take long to prove to me that it was, in reality, two different cities: one predominantly white and affluent and the other mostly of color and low-mid income. My cohort is currently living in Myers Park, which is a beautiful predominantly white town with large, luxurious homes, a fancy Harris Teeter a few blocks down, and polite neighbors who tend to jog and walk their dogs every morning. It is tranquil and seems secure. When you travel upward towards uptown or westward, you begin to see that the grass is literally not as green, there are not that many joggers on the roads due to the lack of sidewalks, and there are more fast food restaurants than supermarkets. You also see more racial diversity and the working class population. It was honestly an expected, but still, a disappointing sight to see. The vast divide between the two worlds is the primary reason why social mobility seems improbable for youth in the latter ‘city.’
Besides the visible systemic racism occurring in Charlotte within its public school system, housing, and transportation services, the city has fantastic food and activities. So far, I visited the Mint Museum, the 7th street market (where various vendors sell food ranging from Acai bowls to waffles), The Green (a literary-themed park), and Wendy and Jay Bilas’ house! I hope to take advantage of my time here by visiting more of its popular and reputable spots, learning more about its history, and figuring out how I can contribute to effectuating change/reversing systemically caused disparities while at my placement site.