Should Kearny be considered gritty?

Yes – but not the way you might think

Growing up in Kearny, I can honestly say I’ve felt safe and protected, regardless of what part of town I was in or what I was doing.

That’s why after reading an article via Kearny on the Web, I was stunned that an Associated Press (AP) reporter labeled Kearny as “gritty.” The article was in reference to the Leonardo Parera shooting in Mountain Lakes last October.

As in all AP articles, the actual writer is not listed; at any rate, the quote was used as an attempt to paint a contrast between co-workers Christine King and the mysterious shooter Parera.

The author writes, “The 47-year-old King, a mother of two, lived in rural Oak Ridge, about 15 miles north of her job, while Parera lived about 20 miles southeast in Kearny, a gritty town sandwiched between Newark and Jersey City.”

That quote got me thinking: Is Kearny actually a gritty town?

In the context used here, gritty means rough, similar to perceptions of Jersey City and Newark and the crime that takes place there.

I’ll say it here: In no way, shape, or form, is Kearny as crime-ridden and “gritty” as those two cities.

I lived in North Philadelphia from 2007 to 2011 while I was attending La Salle University and returned to home to Kearny almost a year ago. Not once have I likened the “grittiness” I experienced there to anything that has taken place in Kearny.

While in Philadelphia, walking around the streets took a sense of being “street smart,” knowing that I have to watch what I do and not be too careless. I was never robbed or assaulted, but I knew several people who were, mainly because they did not have the sense to just walk away.

Now that I’m home, I can roam Kearny streets at night and not feel threatened about what is going on around me.

Kearny Police, despite the budget cuts they have experienced, do a great job keeping many of the issues of Jersey City and Newark out of our town.

However, in another version of gritty, and the one that I mostly associate with, the word means persistent.

Residents of Kearny have always been gritty in this sense of the word. There are people that continue to fight every day against life’s struggles. It’s no surprise that the recent economic downturn has affected many in Kearny, many residents maintain two jobs just to survive, but not once do you see them throw their hands in the air and just simply give up.

While Kearny is not a gritty town in terms of its violent nature, it is, however, gritty in its persistent approach to life, and that’s something town residents should be proud of.

– Anthony J. Machcinski

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