Racial issues arise in all communities around the world, but not all issues are the same from one community to the next. Growing up I realized that my race would be a constant factor in how others would view me as a person. Being an African American has not always been easy, but it has opened my eyes to the racial and ethnic issues that exist among society, both in the United States, and in other countries as well. In 2001, I moved to the community of Govans. Govans is in the center of Govans Community. The community was originally called Govanstowne, named after William Govane. Govane received a tract of land from Frederick Calvert, the 6th Lord Baltimore, in the mid-seventeenth hundreds. Govans has always been associated with York Road, first as an Indian trail, and then as an important commercial road and turnpike linking the rich farmlands of Baltimore County and Pennsylvania with the City and the Port of Baltimore and finally as the urban corridor we know today. Govans was also home to many estates of some of early Baltimore's most famous people. Enoch Pratt businesses man and a philanthropist owned land and a mansion on Woodbourne Avenue. Also William Walters, businessman and art collector resided in a Govans mansion. Colonel Lawrence McCabe noted bridge and construction engineer who built the North Avenue and St. Paul Street Bridges and tunnels for the B&O Railroad. Several of the great mansions still stand today along the York Road corridor. For additional history on Govans, read "Govans Village and Suburb" by John Brain.
Govans is an old community that was originally consistence of Caucasians, but it has became a predominate community of African Americans, and most of the African American people living here are part of a tight knit community. The first thing that I noticed when I moved here is that most of the population is African Americans. I can honestly say that I believe that this was an all African American community, but as I go into other areas of my community, there are still many Caucasians still living in Govans. This is not an observation that all people would immediately catch, but since I am clearly not Caucasian I felt an immediate difference.
The second thing I noticed while driving around Govans was that the stores and restaurants are located within a one block radiance of each other. All of the stores and restaurants are owned and operated by different ethnic groups and some of the families do not speak much, if any, English. The families running these stores and restaurants all live in the same household, and some walk to and from the stores and restaurants every day. I cannot help but relate these families to the many immigrants who came to the United States many years ago looking for better opportunities for themselves and their families. Perhaps not much has changed since then.
A few weeks after moving to Govans I landed a job at the Women Prison in Jessup, Maryland. I must admit that I was extremely surprised when I received the job offer. I couldn’t help but wonder if my being hired had to do with the fact that I was part of a minority group, and that I had been hired under some sort of affirmative action requirement. I tried to push that thought aside and be proud of my accomplishment, but the thought remained in the back of my mind.
After a few weeks at the prison, I was able to surprise not only myself, but my superiors as well. After only a week I was able to perform my job duties like I have been working there for years and help others without being watched and someone telling me that I am not watching the inmates properly. I couldn’t help but get the feeling that they had not expected me to do so well, but I was glad that I had the opportunity to prove them wrong. As a minority I would definitely say that racial issues were present in my work place. Not so much…