Atlantic City has been known for its casinos and tourism but not much is known or heard about the people that make up the area: the residents themselves. I had the pleasure of interviewing Reverend Williams at Stockton University, who is a resident and pastor in Atlantic City. The main theme he discussed was the trust and mistrust of power in Atlantic City and county. He depicted power and change as “moderately concerning.” The direction to where Atlantic City is going is being pointed in the right direction but that actions that follow have not been promising. The actions comes in forms of a state takeover, selling water supplies to the highest bidders, increase taxes for residents, displacement of the most vulnerable, and increased police presence; all comes at a cost. A question is raised. Who is responsible for creating a safe place and moving in a positive direction in the community, and at what cost?
The trust/mistrust in power continues when Reverend Williams speak of a councilman who can “speak a good game.” It seems that there is no discussion on utilizing water as an asset to increase revenue and decrease debt. That increased money revenue would not go to the community but for the companies themselves that invest on the resources in the area. But it comes at a cost for improvement and change. It comes in the hand of the residents themselves.
We all have an important role. Significant players are those who will benefit and lose from what goes on and not goes on in Atlantic City. Reverend Williams explains Stockton University or private institutions have a strong role in putting their voice out in change and stand for justice. But many of these institutions do not want to “ruffle the feathers.” There is more that they can do to say what is wrong and why it is wrong. The people of the community themselves are play the most important role. Citizens need to speak up to make a change in the community for the better of society. We cannot rely solely on the leaders and people to speak up for the people but the people themselves.
Our interactions correlate how we behave. By integrating yourself into the community can help the changes of the community itself. Through council meetings and becoming more involved with the community. Like Reverend Williams explained, the people of the community need to use the voice to make the change they want to see. People can get their voice out there by understanding the issues and being to articulate the passion towards them. By associating with other people that are fighting for the same cause can make a difference. An interesting statement that struck me that Reverend Williams quoted was “Speak with kings nor lose the common touch.” He elaborates that we need to be able to speak to those in power but remember the plight of the common man in the conversation with the “kings.”
Those that come to power have the upper hand on who controls the resources in an area. In Sharon Zukin’s reading Whose Culture? Whose city?, we learned that those with the most economic and political power control of public space. But with the city takeover in place in Atlantic City the civil right issues become trampled on. With this actions placed by those in power have been seen with evil intentions place this mistrust in power with the community.
Throughout the course of Urban Sociology, we as a class have seen trust/mistrust of power in urban areas. In Remember the Fillmore (Jackson & Jones, 2014), we saw the mistrust in power with redevelopment. Many of the residents having negative connotations towards redevelopment due to past experiences where agencies promised of improvement of the area they resided but displaced them in the end. Atlantic City can relate with the struggle the people of the Fillmore had faced in the past. But if the residents of Atlantic City raise their voices on issues of change for the betterment of society and work together as a community can change the direction in which the city is going.