In my first week in Charlotte, I am most struck by the glaring economic disparities evident across the different residential areas of the city. As our cohort toured Charlotte, we moved from the wealth of Myers Park to the poverty of Tryon Hills and its neighboring towns. From towering, carefully planted trees and the manicured lawns of Myers Park to the gas stations and folks who speak of the shooting that happened at the bus stop last week, the transition between different parts of the city is drastic and calls attention to the city’s issues of socioeconomic segregation and gentrification.
Queen’s University, where our cohort is housed this summer, is located in the wealthiest and whitest area of Charlotte. While I do enjoy walking around and admiring the lavish, architecturally appealing houses of Myers Park, it is disheartening to know that these areas exist in conjunction with the gentrification and socioeconomic disparities that pervade Charlotte. As we took the bus to the school I would be working at, I was reminded that I have the privilege of being able to leave that area at the end of the day, while many of my scholars lack that privilege. Overall, Charlotte appears to be a growing city bustling with change, though the change is coming at the expense of Charlotte’s communities of color. Nevertheless, Charlotte is a very warm city, both in terms of climate and in the attitudes of its residents. Whenever I am out walking, people will smile and greet me all over town.