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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