Newcomer’s view: Far from Detroit, but Tahoe has its own divide
My hometown of Metro Detroit is debatably the most racially and economically divided area in the country. Evidence lies in the riots of the civil rights era that have since plagued a torn area. Detroit, a city that’s over 80 percent African American, is one of the country’s poorest. Thirty-one percent of its residents live below the poverty line and unemployment is 8.6 percent. Oakland County, Michigan, (population 80 percent white), the area just north of the infamous 8 Mile Road border is one the country’s wealthiest. Average family incomes hover at $74,000 and less than 6 percent of the population is below the poverty line.
Tahoe’s 8 Mile has less to do with skin color and more to do with your termed residency: locals, seasonal transplant, tourists and second- home owners. I misunderstood where one of Tahoe’s greatest uniqueness’ occurs in regard to its economic diversity: Trailer parks and apartments amid $425,000 “starter homes” next to million dollar “cabins.”
I left Detroit hoping to detour the divide which is 8 Mile. Lake Tahoe initially appeared to be a great escape from the norm and it certainly has provided a scenic 180-degree from abandoned automobile factories and burned out homes to lakes and mountains.
But a playful article I recently penned for this paper has opened my ignorant eyes. I noted Tahoe’s uniqueness, celebrated a town where dogs run free and some people don’t succumb to the rigors of a full work week. To my amazement, e-mails and comments poured in, some congratulating me for discovering “the way Tahoe’s supposed to be” and others condemning me for “being ignorant to welfare-abusing bums of Tahoe.” Wow, that’s some unique anger and negativity.
Some people choose to throw their burned meat in the trash; others spice it up and call it Cajun. If you’re a happy, active Tahoe resident please disregard my diatribe and enjoy your dinner.
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To those who feel Tahoe is full of deadbeat ski bums and societal leaches: Do you not wake up to mountain and lake views? Are you unwilling to bask in the sun, take a hike or ride a bike? Maybe go skiing in the winter? I hate to be Captain Obvious but very few areas in the country offer Tahoe’s scenery.
One recent weekend I was able to bike on Tahoe’s Rim Trail and hike Mount Tallac. The views of both the valleys and lakes from the mountain crest inspired me to not even momentarily ponder the downfalls of the area.
I would rather feel the burn of my day’s activity than let my neighbor’s activities burn inside of me.
– Frank Muscat is a Midwestern native and freelance writer who will be visiting Lake Tahoe for the next few months. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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