Robert Doyle

SOCY 402-001

Photo Submission 1

September 8, 2019

Two Courts, Two Miles

The picture is a composition of two pictures of two very different tennis courts.  These courts are within two miles of each other, but their appearances are completely.  One of the tennis courts is located on the VCU Monroe campus.  This tennis court is well maintained, clean and often in use by the students.  The other tennis court is in a school area in a poorer African American neighborhood.  That tennis court is dilapidated with weeds growing on the court.  No matter when you drive by this court, it is not in use.  These two courts are only two miles apart, but the differences are huge.  This picture speaks to the stereotype responses of color-blindness in America.

The first assumption is that the dominant race in this neighborhood does not value the opportunity of tennis courts. This could be a completely true assumption.  Tennis is traditionally been a sport for wealthy, white Americans.  Only recently has the sport been dominated by other races.  The unused tennis court is a picture of the Caucasian culture making assumptions of what would be a value to another culture.  Those who donated this money probably felt that they had done a great service for this community.  This is an example of white privilege making assumptions about another race from their own values.  This picture says that no one asked the community what they would value or want in their neighborhood.   That is why Critical Race Theory and counter storytelling is important.  It would have been important to hear the stories of those who live in the area and what they value.  Rather than the money going to a tennis court, it could have been used to get better school equipment or supplies.  What this picture says is that no one was asked the question or valued input from their culture.

The tennis courts on the VCU property show another side.  These courts are well maintained and used often.  The picture shows that they are valued and important to the VCU community.  This is an example of those who can afford to go to college have many advantages over those who can’t.  VCU is an intercity campus which is made up of many races.  It focuses on helping the students appreciate those from other races and minorities. The VCU students would probably assume that they are all culturally sensitive to other races.  The readings tell a different story and make us question if we truly do accept other races.

The reason for so much poverty can be traced through American history.  The African American culture and other minorities had severe disadvantages.  There were the Jim Crow laws and red lining forcing minorities into communities of poverty.  Although these laws are no longer in affect, they still influence minorities today.  Red lining is still a problem today throughout the United States.   Because there are more people of color in politics today, America assumes that there is no longer a race problem.  This is a prime example of colorblindness.  Now white America just ignores the past and assumes that everyone except for the very ignorant are accepting of other races.  This could not be further from the truth.  By pretending that the problem doesn’t exist, we continue to promote it.

Of all the articles, the most impactful were the counter stories.  Therefore, the pictures of the two tennis courts symbolize how we can look at something every day and ignore the meaning.    It is easier today to be unaware of racism because America feels that it has made great strides since the Civil War era and slavery.  Unfortunately, we can not ignore how the past has shaped our future.  Now it is more subtle and harder to recognize.  We can not truly understand another culture unless we listen to their story. Just like the two tennis courts, you must do more than just look at the surface.  Only then, can you begin to get some understanding on what is important to another culture.