Wednesday, October 30, 2013

And exactly why shouldn't Black people ever move?

Clearly from the explosion of my editorials like this one and this one and this one and this one I have a lot on my mind these days. Most of it centered around crazy things I hear or read that seem to defy all sense of logic and good sense.

Something that I have always noticed (and never quite understood) was the position that Black people moving out of their childhood neighborhoods (even if they wanted to) was always a bad thing. Whether it was a Black person moving for a better job, or a better home, or for a loved one, or just for a change of scenery there seems to be this view that Blacks are like a herd -- and we should all live together as one, forever, until we die. Particularly poor Blacks should never expect to move up and/or out. I actually read a comment on an article the other day that the problem with Blacks becoming homeowners was that if they build equity in their homes they may sell one day and move to a better neighborhood. WTH?

Now upward mobility is a bad thing?! Or is it just bad if you are a minority? Or is it just bad if you are a minority and poor?  Well damn, I should just jump in the Anacostia river right now because I have a degree, a house, and a clean driving record (I also have enough student loan debt to choke a horse).

Why is it so strange that Black people should have the same opportunities to move if they want to do so? We aren't Pandas, we aren't endangered and have to be restricted to a preserve for our own safety. What's next? Fence us in and view us on web cams? I can hear it now, "why look at those darling poor people, aren't they cute?! Let's go over and feed them." Why is it okay for neighborhoods to remain 95% Black and poor at all costs? Why is it that when Black people or poor Black people work to improve their own neighborhood the credit is given to outsiders? Why is it so shocking that Black people in less affluent neighborhoods care about (and work hard for) safe streets, clean blocks, and good schools?

Why is it so shocking to think that a community could be majority Black and prosperous? That is what I want for Ward 8 -- to be prosperous. I want all of our residents who want to stay,  to stay. If  they want to move I want them to have the resources to do so.  That's why I want Ward 8 residents to transition from being renters -- operating at the whims of the market --  into homeowners who set the market. Homeownership builds communities and maintains affordable housing.  Creating and preserving ghettos just creates another generation of poverty. Wealth building actually gives families security, options, and a financial stake in their future. There should never be anything wrong with that.

Why is it such a bad thing if someone Black owns their own home, grows some equity, and then at some point in their lifetime decides to sell it and take the profits and move somewhere else? Is that person considered a "sell-out" because they made a sound financial decision? Is that,"being White" or "uppity" because they wanted to live somewhere other than where they started? I tell my siblings all the time, "leave Virginia Beach! Go see something! See how other people live! Make some new friends! The world is a big place, go see some of it!"

There was a time when Black people couldn't go places, couldn't live in certain neighborhoods because of the color of their skin. Now there are efforts to restrict us economically (sometimes by people who look like us and who live right next door).

Why are we telling our children to work hard and get a good education if we limit where they can fly before they even get wings? Who exactly benefits from generational poverty? Really?

I have a several friends that bought homes here in Ward 8 and for a variety of reasons -- usually getting married and having children - they decided to move out of the ward to accommodate their growing family. Each and every one of them felt as if they had to apologize for deciding to leave Ward 8  -- even though the move almost always cost them money, not earned them any. I think they would have stayed if they had options to grow here but they felt like they didn't have those options and to be honest, I think they were frustrated at the slow pace of progress. It is one thing to go without when you are single, it is another thing to raise a child in it if you have a choice.

Again, what are we teaching poor Black children? You shouldn't see the world? You should never expect to leave your neighborhood -- even for a short while? You should never want to experience other neighborhoods and communities? That you don't belong so don't even try? That poor Black people should only expect to live with other poor Black people? Forever?

I'm Black and I have options because I deserve them and if one day I want to sell my little condo and move up the street to Anacostia,  or across the bridge to Navy Yard, or across the country to California,  or across the ocean to Paris then I will.

Are we being "forced out" or boxing ourselves in?

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Mari said...

Ever read The Warmth of Other Suns? It is about the Great Migration, the story of Black people getting up and moving the hell out of location A, because it offered negatives (oppressive racism, poor pay, etc) and get to location B where there was the possibility of something better. It is like the stories of immigration.
It has a depressing part that the children and grandchildren of the migrants lack the get up and go of their elders.

If we were a herd we would have left the sick and unable to do behind for the wolves and other predators.

The Advoc8te said...

Hi Mari!

I have not heard about that book but I am going to have to get my hands on a copy and read it over Thanksgiving it sounds really good!

LOL @ wolves and other predators. :)

Pamela Mathis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pamela Mathis said...

Hey Nikiki thank you for the eye opener. Have you heard that the word on the street is that Wards 7 and 8 are going to be the last affordable areas in the city. Gentrification is coming to the Anacostia. I have lived here for a very long time and am a strong advocate for homeownership,which happens to be my profession (Homebuyer Education). My children have gone to elementary and high school here. I have expressed them the importance of investing where you live. We don't plan on going anywhere anytime soon!

Anonymous said...

Strongly recommend The Warmth of Other Suns. It reads like a novel. You are bound to hear resonances of your family in one the many stories it tells.

Unknown said...

1st thing...I just found this blog and find it very interesting.

I live in NW, in an up and coming neighborhood. I bought 11 yrs ago. The seller (African American, 40's, single mother) made a huge profit off of the sale, and she bought a car and moved the family to North Carolina wanting a better environment for her daughter and self. Congrats I say to her!

washingtonian said...

"Warmth of Other Suns" is very well written book (there is one tiny part in the middle where I felt like she didn't address the history of discriminatory practices right here in DC, but other than that, it was a great read). The author is also from the DC area, I believe.

As for black mobility, I think the criticism of people "leaving their community" has had more to do with the concept of the "Black Monolith", that we should all "stick together". I've never really heard someone say "Hey, you need to stay in the same neighborhood you grew up in", but there's an underlying idea that you should reach back and help folks where you can.

Group politics is a tricky business, especially when balanced with the idea of individual freedom.

I'm buying a house in Ward 8 soon. I've lived in the city over 20 years, but I want a larger house and economically Ward 8 is where the value is, real estate-wise. I see it blowing up and I'm watching the home sale prices go up and up. Once the Waterfront initiative gets fully underway on the west side of the Anacostia and the Anacostia streetcar is rolling, you're really going to see the change coming. The 11th St bridge renovation also makes Capitol Hill a short walk/bike away, literally. Change is coming...

I encourage everyone who can afford to buy their own piece of SE now if they want to stay in that area...