Image Credit: Astrid Idlewild
I just read an article that hit me in the feels. Morgan Jenkins (@morganjenkins) wrote about being a Black gentrifier in Harlem for The Guardian. And though I am not taking my talents to NYC (cuz I am not about that winter wonderland life) it got me to thinking.
I’m moving (back) to Durham, North Carolina in a few weeks. For those of you that aren’t local, Durham is undergoing similar demographic and identity shifts as Harlem, Seattle and San Francisco. In other words, folks are moving in and changing the city. Before I would have said white folks but the article made me have a Come-to-Jesus-meeting about my role in Durham’s change.
I love Durham! I try to tell people how much energy and life and love I get in Durham but I can’t really do it justice. There are so many people doing so many awesome things and I am just pleased to be in the number. And I by no means want to disrespect the rich history that I have the privilege to be part of. So here is what I commit to do:
- Getting to know my neighbors. You know, the people that eat and wash and dream within walking distance of where I will be eating, washing and dreaming. Yup, them. I am sure they are awesome.
- Spend my money locally AKA Durham Gone Get My Money. There are so many listicles about the best places to eat and the best places to go in Durham. but more often than not they leave off the places that are not downtown, not trendy and not as new. But when I go out I will patronize a mix of the old and new, the trendy and the traditional so I get a true Durham experience. I am also moving really close to one of my favorite taquerias so… TACOS FOR EVERYONE!
- Be civic minded. There are some very important elections coming up that I am very excited to vote in. There are also community forums and meetings that are important as well. I want to show up for Durham just as much as Durham shows up for me.
- Most importantly, Listen and Learn. I cannot stress enough the magnitude and power of Durham’s history. There is so much I have to learn and its my responsibility to do that work. I want to be part of what can be but I must be knowledgeable of what was.
I’m sure there is more but I’ll start with that. I’m looking forward to truly making Durham home. Now to plan the house party…
*I would like to add that I hate the word gentrify. Let’s call it what it is, urban colonization. Gentrification comes from the word “gentry” meaning “people of gentle birth”. So what would be the antonym? Savage? Were these neighborhoods where predominately low-income people of color lived for decades, savage? Nah bruh. I can’t get with that. Ok I’m done.