It is natural to feel fear in certain situations but not when you are just walking down a street. Dorchester unjustly has a reputation that makes drivers' knuckles go white around the steering wheel as they exit I-93 onto Freeport Street. I don't know why. I have lived in Dorchester almost two years and I have never felt my life or property threatened. I've been all over Dorchester, in the classy neighborhoods and in the sketchier ones. Everyone has always been polite and helpful. I have never been approached to be a party to an illegal act, though my manners and dress would lead one to assume that I was in some places for no other reason.
I have been the most pale-skinned person for blocks but I have never felt uncomfortable for that. I have been the oldest person in a knot of young men on a sidewalk who were less well-dressed, less educated, less socially connected, and less law-abiding than myself, but it was never an issue for any of us. I am not boasting, only making deductions based on the available evidence. I ask for directions and they give very accurate ones. One of the toughs wishes me a nice day. I thank the group and respond likewise with good cheer. Have a nice day, sir.
Some places get known as Wild West war zones where might makes right and the black market is the only market. Good news and no news doesn't sell newspapers. If it bleeds, it leads. Plenty of nothing goes on in Dorchester, but most people never get a chance to learn about that. This applies to other parts of Boston. I am thinking of Roxbury in particular and the Dudley Street corridor that connects the two neighborhoods. Dudley Street is a vibrant and interesting avenue though disposable income doesn't slosh around it the way it does in other parts of Boston. People do, and people are what make a city interesting and livable.
It is easy to look down your nose at how the other half lives. It is just as easy to get out and about, saying hello and complimenting the people you pass on the street, gathering greetings and goodwill in return. To be cheerful doesn't make you a mark for hustlers. Common courtesy goes a long way. It is better to live a century as a rube than one day as a snob. I've been a snob. It is comfortable to be smug but it is much better to be open to what the cityscape offers.