Farewell to My Hometown

December 13, 2010
By Anonymous

“Bang!” The barrel of a gun sounds from a distance. Suddenly, everyone surrounding me starts to panic: “What just happened? Who got shot? Run!” I react with absolute astonishment. I am confused as to why mobs of people are running in all different directions, but once I hear the second “Bang!”, I realize that I am in great danger. The next sound I can make sense of is sirens screaming, “Woo-oo-oo-oo. Wap-wap,” down the streets. I am in a daze. “Is this really happening to me?” I kept asking myself. Finally, a man out of the crowd runs towards my mom, my sister, and I, and he warns us that someone has just been shot. We dash down the street and join the panic in the hopes of quickly getting a taxi. “Beep-beep-BEEEEEEP!” sound taxis and cars everywhere, and people are growing angry and impatient. “Flash,” red, yellow, and green traffic lights quickly change from one color to the next. Though the streets are filled with action, hardly any cars are moving. Luckily, we finally find a taxi and are safely on our way back home. When we get home, I contemplate about my night. First, I think about the excitement of being on Bourbon Street to celebrate the saints winning their first Super Bowl. Then, my thoughts suddenly shift. I recall the sounds of the gun fire clicking over and over in my head, and I realize that my hometown is not safe for me. New Orleans is my hometown, and I am always going to love NOLA. However, the city is a dangerous place for teenage girls to be, especially at night. The increasing crime rates in New Orleans greatly affect the choices I make now and the choices I make in my near future.

In the city of New Orleans, violence has a significant impact on my life. The particular occurrence in the quarter has opened my eyes to the reality of violence in my hometown. Since this incident, my entire outlook on safety in New Orleans has forever changed, and as a result, I take extra precautions when I am in the city by myself, especially at night. I try to avoid situations that could put my life in danger. For example, I carry pepper spray with me at night, and when I walk to my car, I always grip my key tightly between my index and middle fingers. Also, I try not to stay out by myself at night; however, sometimes I lose track of time. One place where I often lose a sense of time is at the mall. At the mall, I walk out the door only to see complete blackness. My first thought is, “Where did I park?” Then, I panic and realize I need to find out soon because daylight is gone and hardly anyone is at the mall. My heart skips a beat because I hear an engine kick off and breaks screech piercingly—a car pulls up to the end of the parking row and stops. He stares. I gulp nervously. Slyly, I pull out my pepper spray only soon to discover that my panic is a false alarm. When I notice a woman and child with shopping bags walk towards the car, open the door, and jump in, I sigh with relief: “Whew! I got all worked up for nothing—but if the situation got worse, I could take him.” Reassured, I contemplate on the situation. I ask myself, “What if?” Suddenly, I realize that situations like this actually occur in New Orleans everyday. Teenagers, oblivious to danger, go to the mall late at night and never return home. I also realize that this unlucky teenager could in fact be me. I conclude at this moment that New Orleans is not safe for me anymore, and I want to leave the city after high school. The crime rates are especially high in the city, and hopefully, when I move away from New Orleans, the crime does not follow me. Next year, I will be in college, and I will be walking to class by myself everyday. I will be extremely busy with schoolwork, and I should not have to worry about my safety. For these reasons, I feel the violence in New Orleans is out of control, and I want to leave the city for a chance at a better and safer lifestyle.
I want to leave New Orleans not only for college but also after college. After college, I am going to stay in the city where I graduate or find another city that I like. Leaving New Orleans is best for me because when I am ready to settle down with a family, I want my family to be safe. The crime rates in New Orleans seem to be only increasing, and by the time I am a parent, the rates are going to be outrageous. I want my kids to be able to play in their front yard without danger. A parent’s worse nightmare is not being able to see his or her children. Living in New Orleans, this nightmare becomes reality almost everyday. Imagine walking out the front door and seeing nothing in sight but toys—terrifying. The streets are empty and not a child is in sight. This is unimaginable, right? Well, I am not going to chance my children’s lives by living in an unsafe city filled with violence and chaos; therefore, I want to also live elsewhere after I graduate college.
Life is a right not a privilege. No one should be denied the right of security in his or her own neighborhood. However, in New Orleans, this is not the case. The extremely high crime rates in the city deny people their basic rights to safety. There are many places in New Orleans where violence is customary and other places that are perfectly safe. Unfortunately, the bad outweighs the good because crime is too common in the city. The night my family and I witnessed gun shots near Bourbon Street is a perfect representation of how good can quickly turn to ugly in New Orleans if the moment is right. For these reasons, I want to attend college elsewhere, and after college, I want to live in a city that is comfortably safe for both my children and me—unlike New Orleans.

The author's comments:
My hometown.

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