Modern Colonization

Northern Liberties. Fairmount. Fishtown. Brewerytown. What do all of these neighborhoods have in common?

Gentrification.

Or, in my opinion, “Modern Day Colonization”.

In this era of colonization, historically low-income neighborhoods are transformed into meccas for young professionals, who are often on the opposite spectrum demographically. I am all for neighborhood revitalization, but why does that have to mean that all traces of the culture and lifestyle of those who lived there before have to be eradicated?

They move into these neighborhoods and completely change everything. There is very little effort to keep things diverse. There is very little effort to “revitalize” the lives of residents who call these areas home.

Instead, privileged white people move in. People of color and the less fortunate move out. Neighborhoods get facelifts. New business moves in. And, instead of North Philly, we have “Brewerytown”.

Gentrification rewrites the history of a neighborhood and the stories of those who call it home. White people continue to find spaces and places to call their own, because it is a good business venture, or trendy.

It isn’t trendy to move into a low income area in transition. It is arrogant, and it shows the lack of care for your fellow man.

I take no issue with moving to a new neighborhood, joining forces with the current community, and enhancing the way of life.

I take issue with the hostile takeover that continues to happen across this country in major cities.

Progress is good. But I argue that we are not making progress. We continue to repeat history on a smaller scale. Instead of colonizing entire continents. White people are colonizing neighborhoods.

People of color, or the “locals”, become a part of the problem that needs to be fixed. They can no longer walk around their homes freely. They have to walk on eggshells as to not offend the new settlers. Because, God forbid they frighten them with their lifestyle. The way they live is placed under a microscope and judged at every turn. Police return to their homes to protect the interests of new settlers, and wonder why their is no trust in their oath to protect and serve.

So, as a young Black professional, where do I live? What do I do? Do I settle in these new colonies and pretend that I am different from my brothers and sisters?

I currently live in Chestnut Hill. It is beautiful. Peaceful. But, it’s culture and demographic does not speak to me as it once did.

When I was young, and fast asleep, I worked hard to distance myself from Black stereotypes. I thought I was different. Better.

Now I am awake and I know better. Whether it is Chestnut Hill, Fairmount, or Fishtown, I am still black. I still look like a “local”.

It angers me that I can feel like a foreigner in a city that I have spent my entire life in. It angers me that when I think about moving, I struggle to find a space in this city that has a culture that truly speaks to me. Everything is in “transition”. But as a person of color, as a Black woman, I am never in “transition”. There is only suppression and limbo.

Julia

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