Divided districts segregate Omaha, decrease opportunities, experiences

GaeaKaan

Nearly 72 percent of Americans end up staying in or near the city they grew up in, meaning around 480 girls currently attending Marian will theoretically end up settling in Omaha. However, not only does our city matter, but the location within the city where we grow up matters, too. The cultural environment throughout Omaha is extremely diverse but segregated-meaning many Marian students aren’t exposed to all sides of the city without purposefully going out of their way to do so. Marian students often live from 180th and Center to 90th and Fort. Their home locations tend to lie farther northwest, rather than closer to the heart of Omaha. It can be difficult to comprehend, but places west of 72nd Street used to be considered “country living” only 60 years ago.

As stereotypical as this column might come across, I want to preface by saying that this is how Omaha truly seems to be 

for me. After a simple investigation of all sides of Omaha, I can safely say that our city is physically divided by street signs and expressways, a perfect example being 30th and Ames. The cross street in the heart of North Omaha is extremely 

different from anywhere else in Omaha. There are rundown buildings and torn-up roads, and although officials, investors and entrepreneurs have recently begun many revitalization projects, North Omaha has been one of the last places throughout the city to receive aid. However, this atmosphere immediately changes as soon as you go a little farther east and you find yourself in the downtown business district, bustling with cars and towering buildings. The change in just a mile is rapid and extreme. The switch from a somewhat rundown part of town to a section filled with sophisticated offices and businessmen and women is shocking. 

Segregation is not just limited to north and east Omaha; it can be seen throughout the city. West Omaha is known for its wealth, home to families who make a solid living and tend to live in houses that are modern and sell for more money. South Omaha presents a large immigrant population, with South 24th Street being a strip full of Hispanic grocery stores and shops catering to the area’s majority. 

Even Midtown has smaller segregated areas within it. Dundee appeals to the wealthier liberals, and Benson caters to the small, “hipster” starter homes. The stereotyping is not at all true for everyone in these districts, but a vast majority of the population can fit into these categories. Segregation is something Omaha has found itself forced into with divided districts that will likely remain the same due to the consistency of the population over the past sixty years. However, this doesn’t mean we can’t take time to leave the comfort of our residential area to explore another.

Omaha is a beautiful city with so much to offer to the state. It is a tourist attraction for the avid animal lover, a College World Series fan or an explorer of multi-ethnic cuisine. The diversity in Omaha gives it so much personality and liveliness; however, there is a difference between inclusion and segregation. The range of cultures that has been brought to Omaha deserves to be recognized and celebrated, and should not be confined to one area simply because it is different from the majority. In essence, the beauty within Omaha should be explored and incorporated into our lives as Marian students. There is so much diversity in our home; let’s experience it rather than being bound by our addresseses, zip codes or even comfort zones.

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