…just last night. It was one of those vivid dreams that leaves an impression when you wake up from it. You see, I live in a city that is almost entirely “diverse.” Whites only make up about 1/5th of the population. Ever since desegregation, Whites have slunk out of the city and moved into the suburbs. The city council and mayor are consistently “diverse,” year by year. The city itself has suffered greatly as a result. First of all the infrastructure is in a state of decay and secondly businesses have up and left for the suburbs. Our leadership is corrupt and embezzlement is almost certainly a regular occurrence. Crime is really bad too; people are regularly killed, raped, or robbed at gunpoint. There are break-ins in my neighborhood fairly regularly and no one really feels safe walking around at night, especially young women. It’s a situation that we Americans see time and again, so there is no need to belabor the point. Our once great cities aren’t what that they used to be.
Last night’s vision, though, left me with a sense of hope. I awoke feeling refreshed and motivated. What I saw was my own city, but in alternate reality, or some sort of parallel universe. The difference was that it had a complete lack of “diversity.” That is to say its population was made up entirely of European Americans. I started walking around the city and everything I saw left me in perpetual astonishment. As tears were welling up in my eyes, I said to myself again and again over the course of my stroll, “Oh my God!” The streets were immaculate and none of the roads were in disrepair like before. All the buildings I recognized from the waking-city were there, but they had been renovated and were in great shape. In addition to the structures that I recognized, there were many more that I did not, and each of these was more impressive than the last. Some were constructed after the pattern of old world architecture and others were novel in their design. The city was bustling and vibrant, filled with children, families, and people of all ages. It appeared that instead sprawling out into the suburbs, everyone had invested their energy and resources into a single effort. With all their creativity and presence focused into one area, they had made it into a wonderful place.
As I continued my walk, I came across yet another feature not present in my waking-city. There was a fountain right in the heart of town with children playing in it. As I looked at them in their glee, I became aware of the most profound difference between my real city and the dream city. It was a sense of belonging and well-being. There was missing the stress, anxiety and isolation that I normally feel when I am in an urban area. It reminded me of how I felt in the East German city of Dresden, when I had lived there five years ago. They have a word to describe that exact feeling. The word is Gemütlichkeit. Like my dream city, Dresden was also “non-diverse,” but who knows about that town anymore.