I made the mistake of looking for too much information this morning on "Gated Communities". Those prophylactic protected neighborhoods that are found almost anywhere you might want to look in this country. The estimated numbers of people living in them varies, but no one disagrees that their growth is on the rise. Or was prior to this recent financial madness.
I do like to have facts to back up my opinions. Unfortunately, the idea of gated communities begins with subjective fears and concerns leaving facts serving as only visible proof of the variety of concerns many Americans have about living among the rest of us. How many and how big can be discerned by looking them up. Why they were created in the first place, only the people who live in them can tell us why. And it seems most reasoning falls short of answers that have any real truth behind them. And I would guess many of them might be breaking some law if they told the truth.
Fear of Crime seems to be the number one go to excuse. Yet the rules for entry into these fenced in sanctuaries have prerequisites that indicate otherwise. And though race is not found in any rules I could find, the overwhelming majority of citizens living behind the walls and fences are white folks. The largest gated community in the US is found in Arkansas. It is 97.8% white. This makes the issue of race a reason to look at. On the other side, there are affluent gated communities in and around Atlanta that are populated by black majorities. Tell me race is not an issue, and I will offer you a bridge not mine to sell.
Gates, walls, and fences are just the physical extensions of a growing mindset in this country. As our culture struggles to find it's way in times that seem more frantic and ugly, people are seeking others of similar station, mindset, or yes, similar race with which to form insulated communities inside the communities already there. Once the restrictive communities were found only at the top of the financial heap, now they can be found catering to middle income people who desire to remove themselves from our great melting pot. Even in the inner cities, the idea of "this is our turf-stay out" is practiced in it's own way.
Some of the newer communities do not want to give the impression of exclusivity with blatant physical barriers. They put up their walls with rules. Associations are formed to weed out undesirables before they come on board. Rules are put in place to tell previous owners that any sale of their home must go through some kind of vetting process before the association will allow the transaction.
Pretty much everything about America fascinates me. We are a very complex society that is still trying to define what we are. I can think of no other nation that has the variety of races and ethnic backgrounds we have in such large numbers. That we even use the word "minority" to describe some seems out of date. That we even still use the word minority indicates we still have a long way to go. But it is obvious our ability to absorb so many people of different colors and nationalities has reached some kind of tipping point for at least some segments of our population. Where neighborhoods used to be all a specific group needed to feel safe and secure, now a growing number seem to feel rules, fences and guards are needed.
I did notice in my brief and wimpy research, that the gated communities for the most part are found in states with large populations. That the largest one is in Arkansas is the exception, not the rule. I tried my best to find one in Maine and could not. But we have them even if they are not surrounded by fences. Some of us consider the Maine Turnpike as one fence. The majority of money and people exist on that side of the state. Small ocean towns with huge ocean front estates wrapped by century old hedges and ancient rock walls. The gated mentality lives here in a less in your face way, but it still exists. Call it old school gate mentality.
What I guess really bothers me is the gate mentality seems to have seeped into our national psyche, breeding loathing and mistrust of others we do not know or feel comfortable with. We appear to be settling for being a nation of strangers rather than a nation of neighbors.
PS - Thanks to TROLL for the spark that started this