Many “great minds” have encouraged productivity during the global pandemic while ignoring the privilege that comes with productivity. One obstacle that has always existed for productivity is the configuration of the producer’s environment; basically, where a person lives or works can influence what can be produced. Throughout the world, there are a number of people who live in single-family housing or who live alone. During this period of great unveiling, more of the global populace is being made aware of how communities are separated by the entitlement to quiet. As the paradigm shifts, one consideration will be to discuss why silence is the only determination of a safe community, and who decides how silent a community can be.
Noise is often determined by location, meaning that zoning contributes to how quiet a community is. During the rise of industrialization, living near booming factories was a reality for many of the working class, but due to outsourcing over the decades, those factory bones now soundlessly house the elite. Therefore, personal resources are indicative of how quiet a neighborhood can be. Locations are also dependent on the whims of local governments; after all, there would be no utilities in wealthy enclaves without the cooperation of municipalities. The tacit approval of wealth segregation is one of the reasons why some communities can expand far outside the city limits, separating the residents from constant traffic noise pollution. Most of the ire of the working class is based on the premise that upper echelons maintain the influence to condemn others to noise without being affected in the slightest.
Another issue when determining noise is the public’s perception of who is louder. People often talk about how men are “passionate” and women are “shrill,” but not enough people discuss how Black people are often considered loud, regardless of the circumstances. This bias plays out in the perception of acceptable noise, such as recreation: loud parties in predominantly White areas are perceived as “raucous” while loud parties in Black and brown areas are perceived as “dangerous.” Because of segregation, most Black and brown people stick out in predominantly White communities, making their presence seem “loud” just because people are unaccustomed to seeing Black and brown people.
Most importantly, the autonomy of sound divides the general public. Some people are able to subtract sound–either through policy or location–but so many others are forced to endure whatever noise surrounds them. Soundproofing, quality construction, household size and noise ordinances all contribute to the ability to choose how much sound one experiences. Outside interference, such as policing and neighbors, can change the noise landscape of any community; evictions and policing make it impossible for many lower-income people to enjoy peace. On the other side of quarantine, it is essential to acknowledge that just because a neighborhood is “louder” does not mean that the people in it are worth less.