Inevitably, over the last few years, whenever someone has found out that I am a Chapel Hill native, they have made something along the lines of this comment: “Really got away from home, huh?”
If you’re one of those people, I promise I’m not trying to call you out. I understand how small talk works (sometimes).
Still, I think these kind of comments reflect a certain immature transience common among students who are as privileged as many of us are. Even in small towns, it takes a very long time to understand the lives of all the people around you and to confront the problems with the places we call home.
My learning experience in Chapel Hill over the last four years has been riddled with letdowns and lessons. Besides the considerable amount I learned through my academic work, I learned a lot about structural violence that occurs here; I only had general inklings of it when I was in high school.
This community suffers from problems of sexual assault, racism and mass delusion about how much this “liberal,” “open-minded” community is secluded from national problems.