A Greater Responsibility

Privilege in American suburbs is extremely prominent—especially here in Wexford.

Living+in+the+city+can+open+our+eyes+to+suburban+privilege.

photo by Julie Kaigler

Living in the city can open our eyes to suburban privilege.

Lucie Flagg, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Growing up in Wexford, I never learned about the real world. Here, we’re entitled. When Giant Eagle is all out of crackers, we yell at the poor employees. We like to point fingers and place blame. And while it is a horrible way to live, we’ve never really been taught otherwise. In a sense, it’s comforting to know that we are sheltered and out of harm’s way, yet we’re not equipped for what life has in store.

I’ve always heard people refer to our area as the “Wexford Bubble,” yet you can’t understand how truly toxic life here gets until you live elsewhere. 

This past summer, my family moved to Pittsburgh’s Northside, where I spend half of my time. I found myself enjoying experiences that I would otherwise hate in the suburbs. Every Friday, I look forward to the Northside Farmers Market in Allegheny Commons. The simple pleasure of walking to the park and buying fresh food and produce from local vendors is unattainable in Wexford. 

I found myself enjoying experiences that I would otherwise hate in the suburbs.”

There is a much larger sense of community in city neighborhoods. In the suburbs, developments may plan one day per year where families meet and socialize. On my street, you give a wave to your neighbor, and before you know it, you are going shopping and having dinner together. Your neighbor is always there, lending you flour or even offering a shoulder to lean on.

I’ve learned a lot about privilege too—and how I can use it for good. Every day on my way home, I pass a homeless man standing by the East Ohio Street exit. Sometimes, he holds a sign saying, “Homeless. Please help.” Other times, it’s just the look in his eyes that breaks my heart. Recently, I started bringing snacks home from work and keeping them in my car. I don’t have money to give, but I hope that what I have is sufficient. To know that something as simple as a GoGo SqueeZ could change someone’s day makes it all worth it to me. 

Here in Wexford, I’ve never needed to keep a pack of applesauce in my car. Quite frankly, that sounds ridiculous. We don’t have to worry about coming home to an empty fridge, or worse, having no home at all. It’s this exact privilege that has changed my outlook on the suburbs.

We don’t have to worry about coming home to an empty fridge, or worse, having no home at all.”

For so long, I’ve been uneasily self-conscious, fearing that I have contributed to our city’s gentrification problem. I have to remind myself, however, that we are trying our hardest. Last week, my mom handed out almost fifty masks to those in our community who are unable to afford their own. She keeps ten-dollar McDonald’s gift cards in her car to give to those around us who may not know where their next meal will come from. I hope that through these actions, we shine a light in our neighborhood and help others survive these challenging times. 

Like many in Wexford, I didn’t realize my entitlement until it was displayed right in front of me. We all have the power to do great things, even in the suburbs. You never know who’s having a bad day, so consider paying for the drink behind you in the drive-thru, or help someone reach the top of the shelf at the grocery store. Such actions speak far louder than words. 

If we’re being honest with ourselves, our privilege is, at least in part, the result of especially good luck. We have a choice to keep it for ourselves or to use it to help others. I know that Wexford is full of good people. We just have to decide which choice to make.