What is the Third City? The American Heritage Dictionary defines Third World as: 1. Underdeveloped or developing countries, especially those not allied with Communist countries. 2. Minority groups as a whole within a larger prevailing culture. The second definition applies to the phenomenon addressed in this body of work, however, it is noted that the evolution of the Third City far surpasses the simple definitions found in any dictionary.
The Third City is as real as any Third World country, but it is more, it is an intercourse of eco-structures that society would most commonly label the underground or underworld. The reality is that the Third City is an amalgamation of street and mainstream culture, which has a hybrid system of mixed values, ideas and constructs. Sociological analysis reveals that a host of divergent intersections exist in the Third City. These Intersections are constructed from variables such as poverty, violence, crime, drugs, ignorance, and illicit enterprise. The Third City is the city-state where people live in a community largely controlled and/or affected by an underground culture and underworld society. Both citizens and denizens inhabit this hybrid community.
Some accept the premise or basic idea as somewhat tangible and still want to limit the Third City to a metaphor, as if it is nothing more than an aberration or at best a concept. The study of the Third City which is the focus contained herein consists of more than thirty-five years of field interviews, review of empirical data, epistemological study and an analysis of an ever growing, ever changing, incredibly diverse and sophisticated eco-system. Throughout history, there are similarities and parallels found to other cultures, but, the Third City is remarkably different because it is rooted in a complex greater culture that has often been negligent and frequently abusive to this population. While this has been the case, it has also nourished and nurtured this eco-system in many ways.
There are those that would suggest that a study of this nature is largely anecdotal, but the purpose of this work is to provide some insight in a phenomenon that is taken all too lightly. To any charge that the work is anecdotal it is suggested that those making such a charge consider the result of years of misguided work to remedy the exact conditions rooted in the Third City. This work is meant to provide the catalyst for an understanding of the place where the disenfranchised and disassociated exist.
The purpose of the years of research conducted in the study associated with this site has been to understand the complex communities developing within the greater culture. The focus is about a city within a city. Most specifically, this study has concentrated on urban communities in the United States. However, it is noted that research regarding this phenomenon has been conducted in suburban and rural communities, as well as in other countries.
The Third City phenomenon challenges many traditional approaches and methodologies in that it is a complex system of ideologies, beliefs, values and practices, many of which are devised not to allow penetration by outsiders. The frustration realized by practitioners in traditional research and policy making are evidenced by years of failed policies and attempts to affect the Third City.
In the upcoming book titled The Third City a comparison is made between the Third City and Dante’s Inferno. There are certain to be those that would take exception to such a comparison. Debates regarding parallel perspectives to this matter are certain to have subjectively divergent views, but an excerpt from the upcoming book demonstrates an interesting concept for consideration. In Dante’s Inferno the earthly city is the locale where saints and sinners dwelled together as pilgrims albeit on their way to different (opposite) destinations. Once they arrived at their respective destinations, however, the damned were forever separated from the blessed. Dante’s Inferno is a vision of the City of Man in the afterlife; it contains no hope of forgiveness. Is the Third City the modern equivalent of this vision where men, women and children are relegated based on status, lack of wealth and resources, skin color, etc?
The following quote from the book provides another point for consideration. Many citizens living in the Third City are literally captive in a hostile environment. Unable to move to more desirable communities they exist in neighborhoods where crime is rampant and where they are prisoners in their own homes, are these unfortunate individuals the damned, and if so why have they been relegated to this abhorrent existence? What is their sin? Why have they been sentenced to an existence in hell?
It is hoped that this work will help to illuminate the myriad problems that have been allowed to take root in some of the once most vibrant and viable communities in our country. For those that continue to look, but choose to not see, let this old saying be a reminder
“There but for the grace of God go I”