The following article/prologue from blogger Eric L. Wattree should be seen simultaneously as an eye opening cry for help and a WARNING to the black community regarding the dark side gentrification.
In his essay, Wattree focuses on what’s happening in LA’s Leimert Park community, but it’s a cautionary tale that’s also happening in numerous black communities around the country. (Hello Harlem!) We urge you to read his piece completely and be PRO-ACTIVE in your community … while you still have it instead of reacting after it’s gone.
*The Black community has been so quiet in its response to the last installment of this article addressing the need to get out and fight for the late Billy Higgin’s “World Stage” being declared a historic landmark, and Leimert Park Village being preserved and maintained as a center of Black cultural Art, that I thought I’d try it again, but this time I’m going to outline the big picture. I think initially I made the mistake of assuming that the current generation understands the sacrifices that were made for them during the sixties, but maybe that was an unwarranted assumption – one of the biggest mistakes that any writer can make. So I’ve converted this piece into a primer on the Black experience and what we stand to lose. I’ve even taken the time to provide a detailed plan of action on how we MUST address this cultural robbery of the Black community.
Many of us have become virtual scholars when it comes to Black history. We can quote chapter and verse on all of the atrocities that’s been perpetrated against Black people over the centuries, but what’s the purpose of having all that knowledge if we don’t use it to move ourselves forward? We’re not doing that. We tend to just sit back and watch the White establishment mount one assault on our culture after another, and then use our knowledge of Black history to say, “Well, here they go again, just like during Reconstruction.” What good is that doing us!!!? We need to use our knowledge of history to defend ourselves against repeated cultural assaults just like EVERY other culture in America. That’s why we’re on the very bottom of the socio-economic ladder, and newly arrived immigrants step right over us to become our bosses and economic superiors. That’s also why whenever anyone needs a victim, they single us out – because they know we’re not going to do anything about it but complain.
Now, I realize that life is a struggle for Black people, and many of us have given priority to our personal dreams for the future, but if we fail to give priority to our culture as a whole, we won’t have a future. If we don’t have a strong and viable culture, we’re going to be disrespected and marginalized as individuals, and plucked off one at a time as we’re already seeing in Ferguson, New York, Los Angeles and all across this country. America is rapidly becoming the new Beirut. So we’ve got to wake up and get on top of this, folks, unless we’ve completely given up on ourselves as a people.
I’ve been sending this message out – in this case, regarding the raping of Leimert Park Village in particular, since this seems to be the latest assault on our people – to the community, community leaders, politicians, and clergy alike, but all I’ve heard in response are crickets. We’ve got to do better than this, Black people, or your children’s future will be null and void – in fact, in another generation, WE, will be null and void. Look around you. They’ve already dragged us back fifty years – a young Black man needs a hall pass just to walk down a city street. For the police, just being a young Black male constitutes “probable cause,” and if they kill him, the nation’s juries view it as a public service.
So what does that have to do with Leimert Park Village? What’s going on in Leimert Park is the latest assault on our culture, so it’s past time to come together, organize, and fight back – and in a PROACTIVE way, instead of waiting around and reacting AFTER we’re displaced, marginalized, or another young life is lost for simply having the audacity to come into the area. At this point, the future victim is probably toddler who was born in Leimert Park, but by the time he’s a teenager, Leimert Park will be off limits to “his kind.” So NOW is the time to get on top of this, because the next young life that’s snuffed out, just might be a life that YOU brought into this world, and then, all the demonstrating in the world, won’t bring him back.
Read Eric Wattree’s full eye-opening article here: