Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Tale Of Two Cities


I like to travel. B.U.T. I don't necessarily like to go to the tourist spots or cities that have been identified as the best places to travel to. No ,I like to go to where the "Niggas" are; the spots where people don't like to go. The places where you can get a home-made lemonade or Iced Tea from the Chinese store; The places that have shirts with the neighborhood's name on the front. Neighborhoods like Northwest(Uptown) & Southeast D.C.; East Baltimore; East & West Oakland; The Eastside of Detroit; Scarborough (T.O.); Brownsville and East New York. I don't travel to these places to get some sort of visceral thrill from traveling through these "dangerous" places; I travel there because these are the places that I feel at home. When you step foot in these places, you often feel like your in another city, where everybody knows your name and their damn happy that you came. For many years, there were de facto borders that made this more reality than fantasy. The faces, names and accents change, b.u.t. the situations are the same. As far as the history of the aforementioned places, they tend to fall in two categories:

  1. Neighborhoods that were once thriving Black communities until social (the MLK riots) and economic (Post-Industrial America) factors brought about their demise
  2. Neighborhoods that were European enclaves until Black migration (and subsequent White Flight) changed the demographics of the 'hood

In either case, what's happening in a lot of the hoods all across the country is what I call "The Great Yuppie Land Grab". After these places being left to rot for over 30 years, they are being pegged as the new "hot spots". There are a myriad of reasons for this phenomenon, b.u.t. I'm going to focus on two:

  • The dissatisfaction with sub and ex-urbia, in economic and social costs;
  • The redevelopment and scarce space in American cities

As gas goes up and the housing bubble deflates, no one wants to live in the boonies. Additionally, many of these "bedroom communities" creates a fake facsimile of true neighborhood living. Also, as cities become inviting again, more people want to live in them. No major American city outside of the Sun Belt is getting any bigger, so guess who gets the heave ho? You got it homeboy: The renters, the project dwellers, and the otherwise unwanted. Instead of blatant racism, this one has a new twist: Market Forces. I put it in bold because we have to understand that this is the "new bogeyman", the force that will dictate change all across America while being shrouded in economic jargon and mystery. And since no one understands it, they won't blame it.

The Knowledge Degree in the Student Enrollment states that we are the makers and owners; it is past time that we actualize that concept. If nothing else illustrates my point, look at Exhibit F: New Orleans. The city of New Orleans will never be the same and we must accept some responsibility for that. To go from one hand to another, Harlem (Mecca) or Fort Greene(The Head of Medina) will never be the same, and we must also accept responsibility for that. Don't be content with moving to a first-ring suburb when you were sitting on a gold mind that you didn't properly develop. If we're not careful, the "hood" will be but a fairy tale, thanks to gas prices and the new bogeyman.

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