The raw truth of reality revealed itself in a moment of revelation. Disbelief riddled Loren’s body to the point she could not move. How could the putrid hands of segregation have such a grip on their community? The answer came while setting in the back of an ambulance.
A new mayor announced that she was bringing the community together. First a senior center was built, then a youth center. Next came the United African American center, then the Latin American center. With each month a new center popped up.
At first everyone was allowed to visit any center, but then town funding were cut. In an effort to keep their centers open people were charged a membership fee. The first sign of trouble came when Loren tried to join two centers. She was African American and Latino. Her face was vexed at the mere notion that she was forced to choose one or the other. She wasn’t one or the other, she was both.
Next came the social status of each center. People began to boast about what their center did for the community and how the other centers were bringing the town down. Most of this talk was sown during the Sunday morning gossip at church. Arguments would brake out and Loren could feel the divide happening. People stopped talking to each other. The youths moved away and the elders faded away. Their town was dying.
A once proud town of ten thousand citizens was now a divided community of two thousand and five hundred souls. In a course of ten years the centers went from opening to closing, only the senior center remained open. Graffiti displayed the hate that still existed in the city. And now, Loren found herself outside of the senior center that she was volunteering at just moments ago. Flames danced as the black smoke billowed into the night sky. Everything happened to fast. The sound of glass breaking and the flames erupting sent her running to the parking lot. She called 911 and reported the fire, and then it happened. A scream of agony came from within the flames. Loren thought she was the only one in the building. She was closing up. How could she have left someone in the building? Frozen her ears absorbed the wail of torture, and then it was gone. Only the sound of sirens and roar of the fire could be heard. Tears began to fall as she slowly turned numb. Loren barely recalled the fireman asking if she was alright. All she could say was someone was screaming inside.
Setting in the back of the ambulance, Loren collected herself. That’s when she remembered the four lane highway that was going to pass though the town. Everyone voted against it. That’s when the old mayor resigned and the new mayor took over. The centers weren’t created to bring people together. They were built to tear the town apart. They bred hatred and that hatred drove people away. How could we have been so stupid and blind as to not see this coming? Loren thought to herself. We were fools. Why couldn’t we just accept each other? Why did we feel the need for these centers? But this is human nature. Loren understood that we clung to others who shared similarities, no mater how shallow some of them were. Individualism can segregate and divide people. And when people are divided they can be swayed to allow a four lane highway through their town.