I believe that the reason people don’t feel connected to their community is due to the fact that they feel as though their opinion doesn’t have a significant impact on the community.
On Saturday November 19th, I took a trip to Atlantic City to interviews residents of Atlantic County about current events in the community and the Black Lives Matter movement. My classmate Vicky and I interviewed Michael, who has been a resident in Galloway, NJ for 14 years. Currently Michael works for the FAA technical center. He is part of a local Unitarian congregation that decided to become more involved with the Black Lives Matter movement after the Michael Brown shooting occurred. As a group they designed a sign that brought attention to the matter. Aside from this, Michael is a part of the Black Lives Matter chapter in Atlantic City. He contributes attending meetings, reading the local newspaper, and social media to helping him stay involved and up to date with current events. He even ran a forum on white privilege where he discussed what white privilege means, his place in society because of it and how other people view those who have it. Although he views himself in this way he still believes that he doesn’t have a big role in the community. However, he did say that he feels as though he has some say in the decisions made in the county because he has the ability to vote and the ability to donate money to local causes and petitions. He also mentioned where he believes the power lies in the county and the local community.
In the community itself, residents have little to no power in the decision making process for the community. Whereas, locally, the casinos hold power because they are what attracts the tourists. In the interview Michael stated, “I don’t trust the state government as a whole to do the right thing pertaining to the area”. He believes that the state government is more invested in generating money in Atlantic City rather than being invested in the city itself and its residents. Also, he feels that the local government needs better assistance and to be more involved in the wellbeing of the residents rather than undergo a takeover. He isn’t really aware if there has been any major growth in Atlantic City and County, but he believes that there is good community involvement in the City and likes that the casinos are starting to focus more on entertainment rather than gambling. Something that he also mentioned that I felt particularly strongly about was Stockton’s plans about having a campus in Atlantic City. He thought it was a great idea because it opens up resources for certain fields of majors and can be a good thing for the community. He believes that this would help the community to grow and it could potentially better the quality of life for the residents of the area. The last thing we talked about was the Black Lives Matter movement and what it means to him. He feels that the movement builds awareness and community for people who may not now enough about current events. For him personally, he says that it has helped him come out of his bubble and better understand what is going on in our society and the ways he can help.
When talking to Michael there were three major fundamental and powerful concepts that kept popping up and they were interaction, behavior, and power. Power was the most brought up when we spoke about the government’s power and how they are not using it to better the quality of life in the community. Interaction came about when discussing the community and the residents and how their actions affect the decisions of the ones who hold the most power. Environment was something that was talked about a lot because it is the main thing that is being affected when these interactions with power happen.
This interview not only allowed the interviewee to express their concerns and opinions about the community in which they are involved with, but it also helped us (the interviewers) better understand how these concepts come into play in the real world. We were able to help the community by listening to the people who live in it and making sure their voices are heard and acted upon.