luna_virgo: (Boots)
[personal profile] luna_virgo
I posted this on Facebook in response to a friend's post about gentrification in Nashville:
"I've been listening to NPR's series on gentrification this week, and thinking about how it's happening in Birmingham now, and how the reverse was happening when I was a teenager and my childhood home got robbed. And I am utterly flummoxed and pissed off that race seems to ALWAYS play a part in Southern politics."

I feel I should expand on this, and I don't know where to begin, so I'm just going to jump in. I grew up at 5220 Terrace Q, Birmingham, Alabama 35208. Two miles from the state fairgrounds. A "nice" neighborhood, where my friends and I could ride our bikes around without fear of being bothered. And we did ride far and wide, much farther than our parents gave us permission to, and we remained perfectly safe, because we could do that then.

Around the mid-80's, the neighborhood changed. A black family moved onto our block. That shouldn't have been a big deal, but it was, for some. That family didn't make any changes aside from repainting their house and putting white-painted rocks along the front walk. I remember riding my bike down the street and waving at them as they sat on the front porch. They waved back. No big deal. To me.

But even though that first black family was middle-class enough to afford that house on our block, white people panicked. People started moving, selling their houses for less than they were worth. This is how neighborhoods go downhill: people act stupid and sell for nothing because they are afraid of living near THE OTHERS.

Eventually, the house I grew up in was robbed. The robbers had apparently been watching the house and knew when no one would be home. It's an eerie feeling to walk into your bedroom and see your clothes dumped out of drawers into the floor. But it wouldn't have happened if the neighborhood hadn't descended economically because of the racist few. It was stupid to me then and it is still stupid now. I could probably buy the house I grew up in now for less than my car cost, because of racism/classism and people just being STUPID.

September 2016

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