The Breakdown of Community. Speaks of Ray Oldenburg's 'The Problem of Place in America' and Ishmael Reed's 'My Neighborhood'

Essay by Dan BuckUniversity, Bachelor'sA, January 1997

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In Ray Oldenburg's 'The Problem of Place in America' and Ishmael Reed's 'My

Neighborhood' the authors express thier dissatisfaction with the community. Oldenburg

focuses on the lack of a 'third place' and the effects of consumerism on the suburbs, while

Reed recalls his experience with prejudice communities. Their aim is to identify problems

in our society that they find to be a problem. Although neither of these authors offer

solutions, the fact that these problems are addressed is enough.

Some basic similarities between these two authors is they are both attempting to

identify problems in our society today. There are many that are ailing our society at this

time, yet I agree with them in their deductions. It seems that they have addressed two of

the main ills today, prejudice and consumerism. These keep our communities from

becoming unified. Fear is one of the prevalent themes in both essays.

In Oldenburg's

essay the suburbanite fears the unknown, his neighbors. People feel threatened by the size

of the communities and they do not know anyone. These is due partly to consumerism,

which keeps people indoors. Reed was feared because of the color of his skin. Dogs

would bark at him as he walked by, cops would enter his own home to harass him, people

would yell racial slurs, and he was even watched closely to make sure that he did not

abduct a child off the street. These fears are a result of the media and our society telling

us to fear certain types of people. Television often portrays the black man as a dope

dealing slander who hangs out on corners with a forty of 'Old E.' Soon people begin to

believe all that they hear and begin to discriminate against others.

One glaring difference in the two...