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Letter to the Editor

BY DI READERS | FEBRUARY 02, 2010 7:30 AM

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Southeast Side awareness

I was intrigued to read about the UI Public Rhetoric Seminar Series titled “Media, Space, and Race: The Case of the ‘Southeast Side’ of Iowa City,” which starts this week. In short, Southeast Iowa City meets academia. Wouldn’t it be nice if just one item from my wish list below could happen as the result of these discussions?

• I wish the media would be proactive in reporting positive stories about Southeast Iowa City neighborhoods every now and then — they do exist. Incomplete perceptions of Southeast Iowa City are created from ignorance and rely exclusively on the media to form opinions.

• I wish people who have no firsthand knowledge of the Southeast Side would take the time to drive around our neighborhoods and visit with a resident without first asking, “Why do you live in that part of town?”

Yes, there are some troubling and complex issues in our Southeast Side neighborhoods that have been building over many years. However, the sum total of our Southeast Side neighborhoods is far greater than our problems — but that doesn’t get reported. Most of our neighborhood stories are simple and universal: raising children, helping neighbors, finding affordable housing, building a community. Southeast Side neighborhoods represent a cross section of life, which is lacking in the more affluent neighborhoods of Iowa City. It’s a fact I find somewhat ironic and sad in such an educated and liberal town.

As I look at the young women my own daughters have become, I have no doubt whether part of their character has been built because they grew up observing life and having friends from many different backgrounds — all good life lessons.

Will a three-part academic seminar help accomplish anything? Excuse me while I remain a bit skeptical, but I would love to be proven wrong. I do hope a few new positive opinions of our Southeast Side neighborhoods and our residents could develop, as opposed to perpetuating negative stereotypes and generalizations that help no one and do not help my neighborhood.

Cindy Roberts
UI employee, Iowa City resident


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