Here is an email that I wrote a friend that I would like to share with you.
As I think on this topic of Social Inequalities among African Americans and Housing, my initial thought is to see how good the housing situation is generally here in Washington as I compare it to the slums and high rise buildings I recall walking in as I grew up in Philadelphia. My mother worked over 25 years with the Housing Authority in Philadelphia and all of the tenants were low income and poor black families. The smell in the elevators still makes my skin crawl, but that was then. . .
Those same slum areas have been over-taken by high-end condos as they pushed the low income families out of the downtown areas since the rich realized it was better to live in the city than to commute. Now, areas that once were populated by whites are being repopulated with blacks (or Hispanics) from the inner-city. Many that had jobs in the city now have the additional expense of commuting into the city. The high-rise tenet buildings have been replaced with plush condos in the city and the outskirts of the city which use to have houses with nice lawns and window dressings are now converted to cement lawns and boarded up windows.
Transplanting someone from the inner-city to the outer-city or a high-rise to a home has no impact if their mind is not changed. If all my high-rise neighbors move to the suburbs and I am given no stimulus to change socially, what have I gained?
I don't see the same poverty here in Washington, but I recall moving to a higher-end neighborhood when I first moved here and asked the realtor very shyly, "They will let us live here?" I had accepted the social inequalities as a norm and was fearful to break into a new environment because I feared what "they" would do to me and my family.
Social Inequalities become social mindsets and norms no matter where you fit in a culture or financial bracket. Many times I worked with black youth that have never left the "hood" so for them, that is all they know and there are few in their sphere to challenge their ability to dream.
I recall taking a group of "hood" kids to a computer camp that taught them how to build web pages and business plans. When they saw their competition, White and Asians kids mainly, they were discouraged because they walked in "knowing" they were outmatched. These kids after a few weeks of the camp had to present their business plan and website in front of the whole camp. They created a line of urban-wear as I recall. The site had pictures and music to sell the product. I think they placed fourth in the competition, but for each kid that went to the camp, they were winners because they saw another avenue opened to them. They were given the ability to dream.
As long as we don't get stuck and accept the social inequalities, we have a chance to break free and help someone else get free of the injustices and dream.
I thank God He has given me the ability to dream and help others!
Thanks for the memory. . .