I just read an article from rollingstone.com about Camden titled, “Apocalypse, New Jersey: A Dispatch From America’s Most Desperate Town.” Now for anyone who knows me, you know that I am quite the bleeding heart. I truly just want to help people, especially children in urban areas. I always have and I always will. I plan to teach in Camden after graduation. It’s my dream job, which isn’t something you hear from most people.
Unless you live under a rock, you know that Camden is crime-ridden, poverty-stricken and probably the last place you want to find yourself at any time of day. What I didn’t know, however, is how horribly bad it was – as in there aren’t even any supermarkets in Camden. According to the article, the last one closed in September. For years, Camden was pretty much policing itself after Christie cut subsidies in the city by more than 400 million. When this happened, the police force was cut in half and most officers called out sick or did their job inside of their squad cars rather than getting out onto the streets. Burglaries rose by 65% and in 2012 there were 67 homicides. It was a complete war zone.
“If Camden was overseas, we’d have sent troops and foreign aid,” says Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum
And with that quote let me interject. With all the horrifying information in this article this quote stood out to me right away, to the point where I literally could not forget it while I continued reading. Why? Because it’s the truth. Our government, celebrities, the wealthy, and even normal US citizens like you and me are constantly thinking about the poor underdeveloped countries in Africa or the Middle East or literally wherever, just never the same situations that are occurring right under our noses. How can anyone feel comfortable knowing that just a few towns over there were 67 homicides last year? That those people don’t have access to fresh meat and produce. That the people of Camden have a better chance of getting shot than finding a job. It’s just mind-boggling to me that we as US citizens are not more concerned about our own people. It shows on so many levels.. even just on a personal level between a few people. For example, when I tell people that I want to teach in Camden the usual response is “are you crazy?” “do you have a death sentence?” “aren’t you scared?” “leave that job to somebody else.” It’s that kind of mind set that makes people afraid to help our own. But not me. I will do everything that I can to make an impression on Camden’s youth. If I am lucky enough to secure a job there in 2015, I will be any person that those kids need me to be. I’ll be their teacher, friend, role model, confidant, mother figure, safety net, psychologist, counselor, provider. I’ll be their everything. Because it’s people like ME who will help to make a difference.
Be sure to go on and read the article in full, because it has a more positive tone later on, when the author talks about the new county-run police force and the insane technology that has been implemented on every street. Hopefully there continues to be more steps in the right direction. We have to help our own.