Having grown up in the poorest part of Dorchester, Massachusetts, I have definitely witnessed the negative repercussions of living in poverty. I have witnessed my family, friends, and neighbors suffer, as living in a food desert and in unsanitary conditions not only harmed their health, but also their spirit.
I am lucky enough to have parents who were knowledgeable about the effects of the awful physical and environmental conditions we lived in. My brother and I were therefore protected from the harmful effects of the uncleanly and dangerous environment of our neighborhood. I have heard of homes being infested with bugs, rodents, mold, and other harmful substances. But these people have little to no resources to deal with it!
Come to think of it, they probably don't even know how harmful the state in which they live is. The people living in these conditions often ignore it because they have more “important” things to worry about, such as paying bills and making sure there is food on the table. I believe that many people who lack quality education, like many people from my neighborhood and others like it, lack the awareness of doing their research and considering things other than rent price.
They disregard “the concepts of place and environment [that] are essential to understanding the physical and mental health outcomes in society [and that] they are broad, multidimensional constructs” (Unhealthy Cities, Fitzpatrick & LaGory 7). They are unaware of the importance of doing research on the quality of schools in the vicinity, on local crime rates, the availability of healthy food, or the safety of their new neighborhood because their minds are solely overtaken by how much the rent would cost. This is what it ultimately comes down to for minorities who live in poor urban areas.
There are many factors that contribute to the poor health of Dorchester that are pointed out in the article “Urban Versus Rural Health”. Under the “Urban Context”, we learn that the physical environment is densely populated, which increases the facilitation of spread of diseases. There are little recreational opportunities for children, which in turn increases the rate of high-risk behavior amongst young people.
This is what accelerates crime rates, and compromises the safety of people who live in poor and densely populated areas. The lack of sanitation could increase the likelihood of people developing sicknesses such as Asthma from homes that are dusty and moldy. These conditions are life-threatening to people who possess such health problems. My neighbors often have to rely on home remedies and over-the-counter medication instead of going to an actual hospital because they either don’t have health insurance or can’t afford the medical bill. These factors put the health, safety, and overall happiness of city-dwellers in danger. Ultimately, their socioeconomic status prevents them from having access to truly healthy lives.
In order to combat the predisposed quality of life that poor people are born into, there must be a spread of awareness. This awareness would then create the incentive for a call to action. There could then be more access to affordable organic food rather than only a McDonald’s or Burger King. Civilians could have the chance to live in sanitary homes and walk on clean sidewalks. Children could have access to more parks, community centers, and other programs that foster their physical and mental growth. If everyone was born with the same chance to live a healthy, wholesome, and nourishing life, the world would be a much better place.