“North Carolina’s Distressed Urban Tracts,” by the Center for Urban & Regional Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, recently referred to the “Neighborhood or Area” of “East Kinston” as being the number one most distressed rural tract in North Carolina. The city of Kinston has already been working on demolishing blighted properties, collaborating with UNC to market the Hampton Shirt site, installing new lighting and new pavement, partnering with the Kinston Housing Authority to provide newer housing and more. We’ve acknowledged the distressed state and have been working on improvements and strategies to overcome this issue.
However, we all should be offended that any person or organization could simply blanket half of our city with such poor choice of words. Rarely is “East” or “West” used in a positive connotation when referring to locations in Kinston. Not only have these phrases been ingrained in our local culture, but even UNC referred to “East Kinston” rather than a street block, school area or neighborhood. If we hyper-focus on where the issue is, then our community can use our energy and resources to focus on alleviating the problem.
We all should give careful thought to our words when describing areas, communities and neighborhoods. I disagree with the old saying that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Our English language gives us many choices to be descriptive. The wrong choice of words, especially in a negative context, could have long lasting negative consequences on the recipient of those words.
Many times I have used a wrong phrase or word and, regardless of intent, words have a way to cause harm in our relationships. Facebook is a prime example of an area where people love to give updates on their kids, lash out at their governments or to quote scripture. Many careless words are typed on our computers and cell phones each day on social media. Although I have failed often at this, one principle that I try to live by is to “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.”
Through efforts to revitalize our community, increase tourism traffic and enhance our quality of life, our community has much to offer. And, as we move forward to increase our economic prosperity, let’s be mindful of our use of “East” or “West.” Instead, I would encourage us all to be more descriptive about a location to which you are referring.
The Kinston comeback is happening right before our eyes and your involvement will improve our community more than these “words” can express.
BJ Murphy is mayor of the city of Kinston.http://www.kinston.com/news/local/guest-column-mayor-we-are-all-one-kinston-1.354006?tc=cr