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Atlanta: A City Misunderstood

Akeem Johnston

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I didn’t plan the trip. My father was going to Atlanta for business and I decided to follow along. I obviously didn’t expect much, as Atlanta is more known for murders and guns than vacations and fun.  Obviously I researched the exciting things to do and found the CNN center and Coca-Cola World. It definitely sounded like fun, but I never would have expected the lasting impact of this experience.

Since my father had to go to meetings for the majority of the days, I got to explore downtown Atlanta on my own. A common misconception about Atlanta is that there are thugs, gangs, and deaths all over the city. Our hotel was downtown and was definitely cleaned up more than the ghettos and was actually quite nice. There was a mall across from us as well as some nice places to eat. I was on a Chick Fil-A and Waffle House diet.

Everyone was surprisingly nice. Even the homeless asked very politely for money and would say ‘God bless you” even if I didn’t give them any money. Southern hospitality was on full display. If I ever asked for directions, I would get a quick and sincere answer. My travels have taken me to many cities but I have never been to anyplace as courteous as Atlanta.

My first day alone I decided to travel to the CNN Center. The only problem was that I didn’t have any idea where it was. I assume that it was evident that I was at a loss, as a strange man walked up to me and asked whether I needed help. I asked whether he could guide me to the CNN Center, and he proceeded to walk me there. He was quite scuffed up, dark skinned, with a long beard and old clothes. He was homeless but had not been on the streets for too long. After holding a conversation all the way to the CNN Center, I gave him 5 dollars. He proceeded to bizarrely do a voodoo type dance in which he told me God would give me grace. It was definitely a different culture from what we experience in Kelowna. Even though this man was homeless, I was never in fear and he was one of the nicest men I have ever met.

I did end up seeing the “bad” parts of Atlanta and yes, they were exactly what one can expect. Just like any major city there are streets full of the homeless and gangbangers. The difference I noticed, was that those same people that are now stuck in unfortunate circumstances were nicer than many middle and upper class citizens. Biases need to be set aside and one must visit and speak to the people before deciding what people are like. If we put stereotypes to every face how can we call everyone equal?

“Ok I represent for my city
Hold it down for my town
I’m riding down I-20
Hell yeah east bound
I’m throwing up the A-Town
Throwing up the A-Town”

~Cyhi The Prynce

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