Sunday, September 14, 2008

Gentrification Blocks Black Folks' Blessings

Sisterdoc hates gentrification. Here’s why:

I was born and raised in the Homewood section of Pittsburgh. Homewood is one of the ‘Burgh’s predominately Black neighborhoods housing the (hard) working-class. Black influx and White flight began as early as 1860. By the 1950s, any lingering Italians (as well as a few Irish and German immigrants) were packing their bags for all-White communities like Bloomfield and Polish Hill.

Homewood has the best homes (huge and brick with wide porches) and the best streets (wide, many are brick and pothole free) and the best location (easily accessible to all parts of the city). So, I guess it was us Black folks that weren’t liked.

Given its wonderful structural qualities, it is no surprise that Homewood is being transformed again, this time by gentrification. The predominately White, middle-class gentrifiers have done a land-grab and renamed their little slice of Homewood heaven “North Point Breeze”—thereby associating themselves with the neighboring, wealthy, predominately White neighborhood “Point Breeze.” And, disassociating themselves with the poorer, predominately Black “Homewood.”

Of course, home prices have skyrocketed in “North Point Breeze.”

The North Point Breezers don’t interact much with folks who live in Homewood proper. Rather, they like to call the cops on Homewood denizens to complain of drugs and drunkenness.

Interestingly, these gentrifiers did nothing when a 22,000 square-foot Beer World (rather than a desperately needed grocery store) opened up on the border between Homewood and the newly defined North Point Breeze. Instead, they made Beer World their one-stop shop for booze and snacks. Oh, and they called the cops even more to complain of (Black) drunkenness.

With Homewood light on medical/social services to improve the lives of Black folks, and subsequently to improve the neighborhood, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center decided to take over the Beer World building. In it, they want to open up a health and mental health crisis center. Yeah! Homewood is finally getting some help! Or are they….

The North Point Breeze folks are protesting, picketing, and suing to stop the deal. They don’t want their “property values jeopardized.” They don’t want their kids who are enrolled in the pricey Shady Lane private preschool to have to see—what, Black folks getting care and treatment??? Perhaps they don’t want 135 to 150 jobs being made available to the Homewood community.

For their part, UPMC is trying to convince these gentrifiers to stop thinking about Homewooders as “thems” and start thinking about Homewood/North Point Breeze as a community of “us.”

Sisterdoc can only hope.

(Image: Gentrifiers' beloved Beer World)


Anonymous said...

Oh shut up.

Gentrification when we come, white flight when we go. Bitch bitch bitch.

Suz said...

Anonymous must be a McWar supporter....Your voice is heard and well spoken.

Gentrification, they are trying to keep it out here in Mount Lebanon too..a Dollar General went in down the road on 19..Lebo-ites actually got a petition together to try to block it, didn't want it to bring in "em" the wrong sort "wink, wink"......give me a break. I was an outcast..I laughed when it was brought to my attention...

See they don't want you to know...out here in the burbs..see we got rich white girls all strung out on heroin cause their mothers are getting botox...& we got Dentists, that like to sexually assualt knocked out patients..& we got teenage boys eh, hitting girls with hammers & raping girls in school stairwells, & we even got well known professors shooting up cops. Ok that one was from a while back, but all other stories are true & from the past year or so.

Sorry the yuppy class is overriding your neighborhood...have you thought of letting off a bug bomb? :)
btw, I'm voting for "that one" too...


Anonymous said...

girl you are crazy.

i live a mile west of you in East Liberty, so i don't have an opinion one way or another about the UPMC site because i don't know enough about it.

what i do know is that you need to get over your racist self. those "lingering italians" moved to Penn Hills and other suburbs. Blacks soon followed and still are. Why? Because they are sick of the crime in Homewood. You get the people who can afford to leave doing so and the poorer people stuck in homewood.

Before complaining about gentrification, look inside and think about why you have a population declining faster than the rest of the city.

many of the people seen on the news who were protesting about the medical center were black.

north point breeze is a great mixed neighborhood. good people (black, white, brown, green, purple) would move to homewood if you could remove the hundreds of assholes who are ruining it. stop the gun violence and stop the open drug sales. until then, you are going to have to suffer while the people on the other side of the tracks don't live in fear of a stray bullet.

PS - Go Obama!

Sisterdoc said...

Anonymous: You live one mile west, but have "no opinion" about ensuring medical services are made available to those in your community. More, you've not (yet) made an effort to become informed about this important issue. And yet, you show no hesitation--though disinterested and uninformed--in weighing in on matters that impact your neighbors lives. You call some Homewood'ers "assholes"-that isn't very helpful is it? But you make no case for improved services in your neighborhood (education, medical, employment, counseling). Don't you dare invoke Obama here; he devoted his early career to these "assholes"-- you've learned nothing from him, and you make no contribution to change.