Living in liberal areas blinds us from problems outside our community

Jane Mather-Glass, Opinion Editor

It’s not over.
Any problems that seem like they’ve been fixed in Evanston aren’t necessarily fixed everywhere else, and it’s time for us to pay attention.
Evanston has a supermajority of democrats, which means that a lot of times we don’t face a lot of the problems that other places do, like racism, sexism, and environmental issues as much as in other places. Overall, this is a good thing, but it will make for some major culture shock when we leave Evanston. It can also lead us to forget that certain problems are still very prevalent and not improving in many places. We need to move on from our successes as a community and start taking note of problems outside of the protective bubble of Evanston.
The United States has a long history of race issues and these past few months have been no exception. We’ve seen conflict with the Confederate flag, police brutality, and immigration. Evanston, like any place, has some prejudiced people but our problems are much less magnified which leads us to forget how intense they are elsewhere.
Before the Confederate flag controversy this past summer, the flag may not have even seemed like an issue to us. Confederate flags are clearly symbols of this country’s brutal past. It seems shocking that anyone would want to hold on to the history of slavery and racism so badly. But in the south, Confederate flags are much more common. According to an article in The Washington Post, this may be in part the effect of the south’s loss in the Civil War–rather than being punished, they were allowed to keep symbols of the war. It’s possible that because of this the south felt like they emerged at least somewhat victorious, and didn’t want to lose the one small victory they had. Since we never see the flag in Evanston, we rarely acknowledge that it is very common in some parts of the country. But it is in fact something that is valued by many, and we need to look around us and protest it.
According to David Feeley, an American Government teacher, the supermajority in Evanston has also led to a decrease in voting. When people feel as if their vote doesn’t make a difference, they’re less likely to have their voice heard. In the 2013 local Evanston election, only 13% voted because many felt like they wouldn’t make a difference or they already knew the outcome of the election. Supermajorities not only shelter us but they also cause some to dismiss valuable life experiences. In places outside of Evanston where political majorities are more split, those votes count. Living in Evanston may lead us to write off voting as something unimportant, but in reality it’s always valuable.
In Evanston, people generally tend to be aware of environmental issues. Priuses pop up everywhere and we have a well-functioning public transportation system. We’re doing things to help, so it seems surprising that the environment is not improving in the least. This is because we don’t realize that in many places people don’t acknowledge the fact that we have environmental issues at all. Global warming isn’t a true concept to many Americans. So when we wonder why the environment is still doing so poorly despite our efforts, we have to remember that many people aren’t making any efforts at all. It’s up to us to notice that people aren’t making changes and try and get the progressiveness of Evanston into other places.
Many mothers around Evanston have jobs and keep their last names and are overall independent. Obviously there are some exceptions, but women seem to be closing the inequality gap. However, women are still paid 77 cents to a man’s dollar and in many places, men (and some women) believe that women belong at home. Sexism and misogyny are still prevalent in societies around the world, but since we don’t see as much of that in Evanston we tend to think it’s coming to an end when it really isn’t.
This is not to say that discriminatory people in Evanston are unheard of. And people who are in the position of being discriminated against are surely more aware of these things. But for those who are not, it’s easy to forget about these problems. We have been sheltered for a long time and need to make ourselves more aware. Evanston residents are in for some serious culture shock when and if they leave, and it’s something that we should prepare for. Turning on the news every once in a while will remind us of the problems being caused outside our own little bubble. But if we continue living in blissful ignorance, we will never be aware of the very real conflicts going on around us.