Monday, June 5

There's No Culture in Jacksonville?

I overheard some Gen Zers at the doctor's office talking about Jacksonville. They said Jacksonville has no culture and that you gotta watch your back when making friends. However, they also seem to agree that enough money can make your Jaxperience better.

Of course, the GenZers weren't working while at work, but that's nothing new. 

They were all three of them transplants to Jacksonville. Two Lantinos and a Black person--I got the impression that they felt the race part mattered, as in people of those races specifically are more cultured in other parts of the country. Something about always doing things the same way in Jax. They mentioned restaurants and how people look at you funny if you want to try something new. Like if you wanna try Whataburger instead of Checkers? The new person got the recommendation of going to Riverside, so I guess that's where culture is supposed to exist in their minds. One of the three had lived here a year and just gone to the beach for the first time, though I'm not sure the beach is high culture. Also, one mentioned the Jaguars as an example of culture, though the other two didn't agree, and seemed to offer clubs and restaurants instead.

One  of the three, when asked why Jacksonville lacked culture, just said, "New York City; need I say more." To which I would have said yes because I truly wasn't sure my view of culture was the same as theirs. For example, I heard the word diversity used a lot in the conversation as if it was a synonym for culture. While I might agree that I see culture as a diverse collection of music, art, architecture, idea exchange, etc., I'm not sure diversity itself creates culture. According to one study, Argentina is the least culturally diverse country while central African countries like Chad, Cameroon, and Nigeria are the most culturally diverse. However, as a tourist looking for "culture," I'm sure all of these GenZers would head to Argentina first and then tell their friends about all the great cultural experiences they had. Why? I believe their definitions of culture would shift because they are not from Argentina, and the country would have art, architecture, public markets, parks with fountains, old bridges, cathedrals, museums, universities, ethnic restaurants, and maybe even an opera house. You know, culture.

My own kids, who grew up being forced to visit art and history museums on a regular basis (and are also Gen Z) seemed to agree with my talkative new acquaintances. They said culture in a community had to do with the different kind of people in that community. Diversity, again. I tried to explain to them that they were only partially correct, which led to us talking in circles, as tends to happen when one tries to correct GenZers. I guess there's an instapot hack on TikTok for every eventuality. 

So getting back to Jacksonville, my own neighborhood is much more diverse than the one I grew up in back in Milwaukee (the most segregated city in the US). But here, I live in East Arlington suburbia with an HOA to ensure I don't get out of line. Back home, I had two parks, a college campus, several small retail stores, a Mexican restaurant, a hospital, and a zoo within walking distance, as well as a fancy-schmancy 1920s neighborhood and a low-rent public housing building. The whitewashed suburban neighborhood is not a cultural experience, no matter who lives in the homes. Maybe that's what the comment about New York City meant, but I can't really be sure. I just know culture has to be something more than you HOA amenities building.

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