How African-Americans Can Survive "Gentrification" (Displacements) And Prosper

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"Gentrification" is a sanitized word for bloody displacements writer says

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Gentrification has nothing to do with enhancing a neighborhood.  It has everything to do with eradication and extermination and has masked historical bloodshed.

It is the motivational drive behind all acts of imperialism, but on a smaller scale.  The word gentrification is based on gentry, which says that the status of some people allows them to take anything from people they feel are inferior.

Due to the large influx of Whites into formerly Black neighborhoods, the term gentrification, which is not clearly understood by many, has come into common use.  One middle-aged resident I spoke with in Brooklyn said that it will bring an improvement to the area.  Another second-generation homeowner spoke of it as a means of achieving the desired integration that some Blacks still crave.  They both reasoned that if Whites live in the vicinity, there would be better schools and a better police presence, which would lower the crime rate.

We need to go back into history for a deeper appreciation.

Under the Dutch, slaves brought from Africa could buy and own land.  Starting in the fifteenth century, African Blacks occupied just about every area in the borough of Brooklyn, from what's now DUMBO to Wheatsville; and from the Brooklyn Navy Yard to the Carnarsie-Brighton Beach, Coney Island area.

The British and the newly formed United States government through gentrification, took the land from those Africans. Later this was accomplished by the gerrymandering, zoning laws, rights of domain and outright stealing of land.  This displacement of people was used in the building of Manhattan’s Lincoln Center in the 1960s, and recently in the construction of The Barclay Stadium in Brooklyn.  Even New York’s Central Park, once known as Seneca or Senegal Village, and most of lower Manhattan, underwent "gentrification."

Seneca Village, which had been founded by free Blacks, existed between 1825 to 1857. It was torn down for the construction of Central Park.

As one account has it: "The village was razed for park construction. Residents were offered $2,335 for their property. Members of the community fought to retain their land. For two years, residents resisted the police as they petitioned the courts to save their homes, churches, and schools. Some villagers were violently evicted in 1855. However, in the summer of 1856, Mayor Fernando Wood prevailed and residents of Seneca Village were given final notice. In 1857, the city government acquired all private property within Seneca Village through eminent domain. On October 1, 1857, city officials in New York reported that the last holdouts living on land that was to become Central Park had been removed."

Another heinous use of gentrification here in the United States took place in the Greenwood neighborhood, in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921 when Whites discovered that the Black township, which was known as “Black Wall Street”, was built over an oil rich field.

The White residents started a riot and shot many of the Black landowners in order to take their property.  Despite the many killings and the loss of property, no one was ever prosecuted.  None of the residents were ever compensated for their land.

The attacks were alleged to avenge an assault of a White teenage female elevator operator by a Black teenage male, which was false, and charges against the male were later dismissed. As one account has it:

"The invasion was one of the most devastating massacres in the history of US race relations, destroying the once thriving Greenwood community.Within five years after the massacre, surviving residents who chose to remain in Tulsa rebuilt much of the district. They accomplished this despite the opposition of many white Tulsa political and business leaders. It resumed being a vital black community until segregation was overturned by the Federal Government during the 1950s and 1960s. Desegregation encouraged blacks to live and shop elsewhere in the city, causing Greenwood to lose much of its original vitality."

Whether the taking over of these long-held Black neighborhoods by Whites and other ethnic groups is being done with a conscientious intention to eradicate Blacks is debatable.  But, one cannot help but acknowledge that the city, state and federal government have been planning the gentrification of these areas for a long time.

Over 40 years ago an African-American motor woman stated that Brooklyn was being “redlined” for a White takeover.  She based her prediction on the then planned MTA construction.

Blacks are also to be held culpable in the takeover of their long-held neighborhoods by other ethnic groups.  Those that owned their homes didn’t educate their heirs about the responsibility of managing real estate in New York City.  Many home owners who could have paid off their mortgage repeatedly took out new mortgage loans --refinancing-- against their property.

Ninety-five percent of African Americans do not have a will.  Thus, properties that are left in their estate often ends up in probate, causing a sell-off, or in the hands of the least capable heir.

Hidden away in the fine print of the reverse mortgage is the residency clause which states that the borrower cannot live away from the said property for a set period of time; and lent money must be paid back within a number of days after the death of the borrower.

Back in the day, due to the edict of the Marcus Mosiah Garvey (1887-1940) in the twenties and the thirties of “owning your home rather than leasing or renting” many of the finest townhouses in Brooklyn and Manhattan were purchased by African-Americans.  Thus, these townhouses and neighborhood have been in their stewardship for nearly a century.

Unlike other ethnic groups, African-Americans do not demonstrate an overt resentment against newcomers moving into their neighborhoods despite the popular and erroneous myth and vilifications.

With the many high-rise luxury apartment buildings increasingly being built all over Brooklyn, one must ask what are the former residents to do? Where will they go? Where have some gone?

Despite the high unemployment rate that exists in the Black population, always double the average rate for Whites,  African Americans earn about $1 trillion a year.  Some of this money must be pooled so that  African Americans can set up their own financial institutions and become more involved in the financing of projects, here in America and in Africa.

Because total independence can only be achieved if a product is owned and controlled from the raw product to the finished product this will allow for a higher rate of employment and a better financial standing among African-Americans.

These are the strategies required for the survival and development of African-American communities.

 

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