Hometown Glory: Where Do We Consider Ourselves From?

Hometown Glory: Where Do We Consider Ourselves From?

How I would personally answer the question, "Where are you from"?
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“What’s your name, and where are you from?”

Whenever you come up in a new location, whether it’s a new school, a new job, or a new experience, this is the first question you are usually asked. I find myself answering this frequently, including recently when I was at my orientation for my major. Mostly with the phrase, “I’m from around here,” because the place where I go to my university is also my hometown.

However, it’s also not the address I write on letters, where I register to vote; while I settle in my dorm during the weekdays, during the weekends I would take the trip up north, outside of city limits, to go back home. During high school, I would attend a private school barely south of the northern city limits, and then drive home back to that small city further north. It’s close enough so that it’s part of the Seattle metropolitan area, but far enough so that rush hour freeway trips can last quite a while.

In all my applications, I would just put my actual address in there, in which that would be legitimate, because I lived in that small city. But when somebody would go up and ask me about my hometown, I absorbed the small city into the Seattle metropolitan area, which stretches from Everett up north to Tacoma in the south.

That definition is very much ambiguous- of a metropolitan area. There’s differences in rural parts of the country, where they are clearly defined with small towns. Someone can just explain what their life is like there. On the other hand, one living in a small city near a much larger one can be ambiguous; a drive away there’s another one with larger skyscrapers, larger brand-name recognition, and more history.

While I do have a house in that small city of Lynnwood, I always considered myself part of the fabric of Seattle.

I was born there and spent the first decade of my life within the city. Even when I’ve had a home in a northern city, and attended middle school in their school district, I still considered it a place where I learned. My sister was educated there since the first grade in two private schools. My parents work there. I personally had many moments there with my friends, from high school and college. I’ve applied to and had my first job in the city where I was born and raised, not where I drove up north and merely live there.

For other people, they would prefer to be part of a smaller city. I’d like to think of it as being a “large fish in a little pond,” especially if they are going somewhere else for college. They would get to know their neighbors, their friends, and every little corner of their little city. These are stories that make their identity special, stories in which it makes someone want to listen, maybe to visit.

But for me, I want to identify with the city. Not because I want the vanity and the money-bathing aspirations of the urban elite, but I want to be part of its story. And it's part of my family as well.

Cover Image Credit: U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Geological Survey, 1970

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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Past Legal And Modern Social Apartheid

An opinion piece on past legal Apartheid in South Africa and how it is socially reflected in the United States.

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When stepping inside of a solitary cell at Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg, I felt a tightness in my chest and wanted to leave that small space immediately; imagining a Black South African who broke the pass laws during Apartheid being in there is beyond disturbing. Due to laws such as the Native (Urban) Areas Act No 21 of 1923, the Bantu/Native Building Workers Act of 1951, and the Bantu Homelands Citizens Act of 1970, Black South Africans during Apartheid were extremely limited in where they could live, detrimentally affecting their economic and employment opportunities. When touring the former Constitutional Hill prison, the guide told us that, when Black South Africans were caught without passes permitting their stay in Joburg for the day and/or night, they spent 5 days in prison, along with murderers and others who committed serious crimes. If caught multiple times breaking these pass laws, they would spend 5 years in this prison. Most of those who violated these pass laws were unemployed or sought better employment in Joburg; this is understandable, as a person has a better chance of having a job by being there physically. When thinking further about the lack of opportunity they suffered from due to the aforementioned laws creating this effect, this legal repercussion becomes further and further disturbing. Additionally, this also directly led to the creation of "White" and "Black" areas, where Whites lived in areas of better opportunity (ex. cities, suburbia), and Blacks were subjected to living in poverty and townships where there was limited economic and employment opportunities.

This lack of opportunity is echoed in the U.S. when looking at socially designated "White" and "Black" areas. Trayvon Martin was murdered by George Zimmerman essentially because he thought Martin "was not where he belonged", which was in a nice suburban area. As a person of color myself, I have been stared at in museums, followed in stores, and once at 12 years old kicked out of a shop (I did not do anything wrong), because I "stuck out". In this way, society told me (and violently told Martin) that we don't belong in those areas, that we "belong" in ghettos or prison; the racial demographics of populations in U.S. prisons will support me here. Therefore, by society socially designating where people "belong", not only do they bind themselves in their own ignorance, but also prevent people of color from sharing the same access to plentiful life and economic opportunity.

References

Native (Urban) Areas Act No 21 of 1923: Prevented Black South Africans from leaving designated area without a pass. The ruling National Party saw this as keeping Whites "safe" while using Blacks for cheap labor.

Bantu/Native Building Workers Act of 1951: Allowed Black South Africans to enter the building industry as artisans and laborers. Restricted to "Native" areas. Prevented competition between Whites, Coloureds, and Blacks. Could not work outside a designated area unless given special permission.

Bantu Homelands Citizens Act of 1970: All Black South Africans would lose their South African citizenship/nationality over time. Would not be able to work in "South Africa" due to being aliens. Black South Africans would have to work inside their own areas and could only work in urban areas if they had special permission from the Minister.


South African History Online. "Apartheid Legislation 1850s-1970s." South African History Online, South African History Online, 11 Apr. 2016, www.sahistory.org.za/article/apartheid-legislation....

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