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Stop Lying About Where You Are From: the Disparity Between Cities and Suburbs


If you’ve ever been in a new environment with all new people, one of the first things y’all might ask each other is, “where are you from?” While it seems like a simple enough question, your answer might actually be controversial. It may seem harmless to say “I’m from Boston” when you are actually from the nearby suburb 30 minutes away but in actuality, you are romanticizing that city. I see it happen all the time with my city, Baltimore, and let me tell you, wanting to be from a city when you are actually from the suburbs is something you shouldn’t be romanticizing. It shows that you don’t recognize the harsher realities that come with living in a city versus a suburb. There are higher crime rates which leads to over-policing, schools are underfunded, and the homeless population is greater. So no, you should not say you are from a city when you aren’t.

Cities are crawling with higher crime rates than their neighboring suburbs. By claiming to be from a city that experiences more crime than where you are actually from, you are selectively glorifying the harsh experiences individuals living in those cities have to face. High levels of crime due to lack of resources and overpopulation make living in a city more dangerous. According to The Perspective, FBI stats and data from the National Center for Victims of Crime show that major cities have higher property crime rates, household burglaries, and theft and violent crime rates than the surrounding suburbs, making it safer to live in suburbs. By claiming to be from a city you are not, you are not acknowledging the privilege you have not having to live in a more dangerous environment.

Additionally, better education opportunities are often given in suburbs than in cities. This all comes down to funding. Public city schools often receive less funding and the numbers drop even more when it comes to predominantly non-white schools as highlighted in Rebecca Bellan’s article, $23 Billion Education Funding Report Reveals Less Money for City Kids.

“Funding disparities for city students are a nationwide issue: Public school pupils enrolled in urban districts receive on average around $2,100 less per pupil than their suburban counterparts, and $4,000 less than students who attend rural remote schools, according to a recent study by EdBuild. And within cities, kids in predominantly nonwhite districts receive less than kids in predominantly white districts — about $1,321 less.”

This disparity of funds in cities leads to less funding for teachers, lower test scores, and generally fewer opportunities overall than received by their suburban counterparts. Claiming to be from the city when you are from the suburban town in a safer and better-funded district once again neutralizes these differences and displays that you fail to recognize the separate conditions that accompany respective neighborhoods.

Major cities are also associated with higher rates of homelessness and more impoverished people than suburbs. Major cities tend to have higher housing costs and higher costs of living than suburban areas leading to there bring higher levels of economic inequality in major cities. Therefore, living in major cities is more financially crippling on individuals. Housing costs are also continuously rising due to gentrification pushing more people out of their homes and in turn adding to the homeless population. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, “only 25 percent of Americans live in major cities, but 50 percent of people experiencing homelessness are in these areas” making the highest percentage of homelessness in major cities compared to only 1 in 4 people experiencing homelessness in suburbs. As you can see, homelessness and poverty are larger issues in major cities. The ways of living most of us experience in major cities are much harsher and incomparable to those living in the nice gated communities 30 minutes away.

So, the next time you want to say, “I’m from Boston,” but do not recognize the hardships of actually living in a major city, maybe consider saying where you are actually from and follow up with, “it’s 30 minutes outside Boston.” While it makes no difference to you, it makes a difference to the people actually experiencing life there. The people who don’t have heaters at school, the people who have to worry about being shot on the way home, and the people who can no longer afford to live in their New York City neighborhood when the new Starbucks opens down the street.

featured image via Ev on Unplash




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