For years now, word out on the street was that gentrification was an “issue,” or a “problem” of high social and racial dimensions.
However, what comes of it, in the end, is a lot of Black people complaining about things they could have done something about and refused to do so when it was expedient.
White Flight in Reverse
The problem is related to alleged “rich” people (usually upper middle-class people, or what we used to call ‘yuppies’ and ‘buppies’ back in the day) moving inside of town from their former flight to the suburbs.
Apparently, they discovered that “white flight” cost them dearly in terms of the carbon footprint as well as the expense of living far from their own workplaces downtown. They have since decided to come back to where they should never have left. This fashionable need to be “hip and living IN town”, in turn, forces rents, taxes and everything else you can name into a higher tax, cost, and fee bracket. Thus, the higher cost of living intown for the poorer people already there, so it is said, pushes out the people who can’t afford to live there anymore.
But where do they go when they can’t live intown anymore? To look at it generically, it seems that the poorer people among us can’t much afford to stay anywhere, gentrification or no.
Guess “the ‘Burbs” are getting cheaper by the minute.
What is A Gentrified Neighborhood?
To be clear, gentrification is defined as “a process of renovation of deteriorated urban neighborhoods by means of the influx of more affluent residents. This is a common and controversial topic in politics and in urban planning”.
Back in the early 2000s, I rode through Harlem with my former sister-in-law, a New Yorker by birth. I looked around to see the up and coming gentrified streets of “downtown” and “uptown” New York City, and from my small-town Atlanta perspective, comparatively speaking, the facelift was needed and much welcome.
She said “You know, the reason I don’t have a problem with this gentrification is that these black folks doing all the complaining now…they had ample opportunity to buy up these properties. HUD had these single-family townhomes and brownstones up for a dollar. All they had to do was pay one dollar and fix them up, and they couldn’t even manage that. They chose to stay here as transients, trash the neighborhood, and the money they could have spent on real estate? Hell … look around you. They got money to do everything else BUT upgrade their neighborhoods.”
The sad part is that poverty is a real factor when it comes to buying real estate.
Why Do White People Seem to Have ALL the Fun?
Because the fun part takes work, work we are often unwilling to do. The fun comes LATER, not before, so the really sad fact is that “we” seem to know little to nothing of the CONGLOMERATION of CORPORATE AND LEGAL RESOURCES.
One person can’t do it alone, and this is an area in which white people win almost every time.
‘Business is business’ as far as they are concerned, and we are often too busy looking for the quick dollar that rides along with cheating one another than the long-term investments that build community and family and structure and substance for us and our future generations. I’m talking BUYING property and land, not renting or leasing it.
How wrong was she to say that ‘we’ had our chance and lost it, by fooling around doing nothing?
How racist is that, to say that Black folks fail to do what white people will? How racist is it that this has to be a ‘race’ issue instead of a PEOPLE problem?
The Obligatory Video on Gentrification
Well … let’s hear it from some others.
This video ends with a rant about “cutting grass”.
Keep it up, yes … keep it clean, yes. Yet, there is a lot of nonsense and unimportant conversation going on inside of the video about gin-sipping and trap-music-watching, and other uncalled for messiness, but you get the gist of it. Their point was made, even with all the crazy commenting.
And Jesus said “Let there be Light…Bills.”
The video doesn’t do much for the reality of the topic at hand, but they do manage to touch on some important topics. Three of them are:
1) The pride of living in a particular area, which we often refer to as “the ‘hood.”
SOLUTION: Do cut the grass at least, even if you aren’t into planting and gardening like that.
2) Lack of pride by saying “It’s not mine, I don’t care.”
SOLUTION: Transience is more of a problem than gentrification, to tell the truth.
BUY THE HOUSES AND FIX THEM UP. It’s not that hard to do, especially in areas no one wants to live in unless they don’t have a choice. Truth told, even if you don’t own it, you ARE paying the bills, so in that sense, it IS yours. Even if only for the moment.
3) Black churches, which Black people do tend to have so much ‘faith’ in – that’s where the money seems to go anyway- could use that “storehouse” tithe to rebuild their own neighborhoods and bring The Village back to life. We’re the ones who killed it, we’re the only ones who can bring it back.
SOLUTION: Stop running from the ‘hood to the woods.
The ghosts of the Night Riders been gone, so it seems there would be more of a chance that bills would get paid by being in-service to the current community than by waiting on the elder and more bougie among us to stay alive long enough to pay them all off.
There is a certainty that folks will show up looking for handouts. “The poor ye shall have with ye always.” There is also a certainty that the more community service and events and activities, the more people are going to show up. And the more people who show up, the more of a chance that they are going to put their money in the collection plates, even if it’s only the ‘widow’s mite’ that they do ave. At least, the more money they may save the church by doing fundamental ‘a priori’ or even non-priority work that would normally cost the church a grip.
About That “Storehouse” in the Book of Malachi
According to the Order of Melchizedek, King of Salem, the Storehouse of Malachi 3:10 was an order, a mandate, for the priests of the temple of God to stop stealing from the people. The priests (Levites) took from the storehouse that which had not been apportioned or allocated/allotted to them, but to the people.
Basically, the word of Malachi 3:10 is the Lord God telling them (the Levites who were stealing) to PUT IT BACK. What they were stealing did not belong to them. The storehouse was for the redistribution to the people so that “he who had much would not have too much, and he who had little would have no lack.”
So when this video spoke of the church’s responsibility in the community, one has to ask the needful question: “Why aren’t the Black churches in the area buying these properties and restoring the Kingdom of God in their own communities?”
The Way We Do Them vs The Way We Do Us
It’s a pretty well-known fact that Black folks tend to look for the all-encompassing “hook-up” unless white people are selling them something.
One particular Black woman, with a house filled with white prosperity technology – big screen TVs and expensive pricey shit she apparently paid retail for – threw a fit on a Black funeral home for charging her certain fees for the handling of her husband’s dead body.
These once in a life-time funeral costs, with or without cremation, tend to cost.
Yet, she who paid more than mint and a grip for all that for-white-profit only house that she was living in, in an exclusive for-white-profit only Black neighborhood, had an issue with a Black funeral home over a pretty small transportation and handling fee.
The stuff in her for-white-profit only house and on her for-white-profit only body cost far more, yet her complaint was with a line-item one-time fee that all funeral homes charge, white and Black.
The Black funeral homes got to pay white people, too, so as we mentioned before, it’s always a revolving door effing we get, no matter what we do or where we go.
Maybe it didn’t occur to her that the funeral home was likely charged a fee by the hospital for the handling of the body and its release; or that the Black funeral homes also have costs and employees to pay. It’s almost certain that had she taken her husband to a white funeral home, the animosity would have been lessened by their skin color.
Of course, more would have been charged for shipping and handling if he had been in another state or another country, but if it isn’t a line item, the cost is wrapped into that price tag some kind of way, regardless.
When we Buy White, we tend to go in that pocketbook and pay whatever the sticker price is. It’s almost as if we have something to prove to white people about how much money we have.
But when Black people see each other, we tend to think that we are more of an automatic free ride, or ‘slave’, than even white people do. They always want to know “how much this costs,” we always want to know “how much of this can I get for free?”
Rather than borrow money in order to run to the other side of town to make white people think we are economically ‘rich’ while in simultaneous multitudinous debt…why not stay and rebuild?
We start talking UPTOWN REUNIONS, memories of growing up in the ‘hood and being raised by The Village, when there are still Black folks living in the ‘hood. Still there. Fighting alone. Getting older, but fighting alone.
Staying home is, by far, the cheapest, the most economically serviceable and viable, and the most sensible route to go, even if the house is a tear-down that needs to be rebuilt from the ground up.
Besides, if you’re a Black person who is currently vicariously kissing Trump’s pimped-out social media behind at the moment, then the most sensible thing he has ever said is “Location, Location, Location” has nothing to do with anything.
Buy where others will not buy, WHEN others will not buy. That’s where the prime property will end up, and that is wherever you decide to put it.
Being In-Service to the Kingdom of God/The Lion of the Tribe of Judah
When you are in-service in the Kingdom, to the Black Inheritance – then when the storehouse runs out, it’s out.
Yet, it should never be empty with the tithes now being paid into it. The storehouse should not be empty at any time, either for those inside the fortified walls, or those outside the gates who are in need.
To be sure, it is the children’s bread first and foremost; yet, even the dogs outside the gate get the crumbs that fall from the table. How bad to treat a human being as less than a dog?
Our Role in the Black Community
Many do lament the loss of the Unseeable All-knowing ‘Village’, but do nothing to change it except talk about the loss. Those who do the most complaining, it seems, are the ones least likely to do anything to make a difference.
As a Side Note Item: The world knows us Black folk as the type to be an easy trade on the white-esteemed world market, despicably cheap and globally desperate to be more ‘white-ish’ by the moment. They do expect us to sell-out rather than buy-in.
It’s not as if our ungodly corporate lives should have mattered in the first place, but this is the world we did not create and that God never co-signed us into, even though we allowed it.
With that said and done, there are a couple of SOUL-utions to the problems at hand, the ones we created and the ones we had no control over, if anyone is willing to do the work.
SOUL-utions, We Need
1) Form Real Estate Conglomerates (merge and acquire) and Buy the Property, ALL CASH in hand.
2) Fix the property up. Clean it, demolish it and rebuild, or reinstate it ‘as is.’ Do some serious curb appeal, even if you can only hire a damned good lawn service.
3) Form a Neighborhood Association and develop your own internal policing systems that protect your people, from one another and from outside invaders.
4) Establish black-owned businesses from which to buy goods and services INSIDE the neighborhood ONLY. Stop thinking up ways to cheat one another while simultaneously enriching whites who work to destroy your families and educational systems. Shut everyone else down until they learn some manners when it comes to Black people, and in the meantime, mind your own manners when it comes to each other.
5) Don’t “label” your neighborhoods so they stand out and become a target, but do learn to live as one united in the peaceable and quiet enjoyment of your homes and ‘hoods, and in respect and self-respect.
6) KEEP YOUR BUSINESS TO YOURSELVES.
Every “Black Wall Street” Movement, which should have come immediately after the Civil Rights Movement as a matter of order and decency and gratefulness to the ancestors, does not need to be televised or advertised on racist social media.
You Tell Us …
Did the ancestry and eldership, including the more infamous Dr. King and Rosa Parks and John Lewis, for example, waste their time sacrificing the little they had for the overall generic good of “Black people,” or no?
So many like to say the words “The elders got played.”
However, they never got played, except by their very own ungrateful children and descendants who have no respect of the sacrifices made that made them the most privileged generation of Black people in the history of this nation.
The elders did what they could with what they had at the time, and even that is more than Subgenerations X, Y, and Z (“The Cosby Generations”) and the Millennials (of Y2K) have been able to pull off in decades.
All of this fancy schmancy technology in hand that the elders never had, yet the elders did more to move us forward with transistor radios and plastic-pressed records than the youth are about to do now with wristband telephones and social media at their fingertips. That much is certain.
The grandparents accomplished more with candlelight and outdoor toilets than this generation will, even with indoor plumbing, electricity, clean gas, and wireless/remote everything. We use it to consume, not to BUILD.
Who’s Zooming Who?
Did the elders truly get played with the demands, the marches? Or are the disrespectful ingrates of this younger generation (those who take a lot for granted) being played now?
Only THE FIRE INSIDE THIS TIME, in THIS generation, will tell the truth about us and put the devil to shame.
Epilogue: The Authentically Embarrassing Truth about Generational Gentrification
In the meantime … ya’ll keep running to “Waffle House” begging to make white skin rich, then crying about gentrification as if you’re not paying them to do it. And crying to social media advocates when they overcharge you for a glass of orange juice, or tell you to get the fuck on or get killed.
It’s like gay people demanding to have their “cakes baked” by an intolerant white Christian, then expecting that cake to be a good one whenever they get it to wherever it’s going.
Let’s just say that at least the racists and intolerants have the decency to let you (us) know that if we force their hand, they will minnie-shit in our pies and cakes. Others are not so kind as to expose themselves first and will go ahead and bake it anyway, sight unseen.
They have already resegregated (i.e., anti-Black’d) the world, so you can now officially stop pretending you’re not Black.
When they come for us, they don’t make a distinction between good-haired light-skinned mixed breed Mulatto niggers and dark-skinned nappy-headed ones. We all look monolithically “niggerish” to them, so … In THIS day and age, get your own.
It takes WORK and RESPONSIBILITY — and a certain level of all-redeeming trustworthiness. Period.
Do, or do not do. Either get it done or get gone.
Or as The Jackson Five once said, unified and in sync and harmony as a FAMILY: “Get it together, or leave it alone.”
PUBLIC NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the Urban Intellectuals, affiliates or partners.