I don’t know how to compare the damage of poor white folks living in a black neighborhood with the gentrifying white power of “revitalizing” “historic” homes.
They each have their individual negative powers. White people living in a black neighborhood is not just a benign element.
I do think that these Historic Home Tours are repulsive and disgusting.
Fortunately, I live in a house with great folks who passed around the Home Tour Handout (a decent —in terms of print quality— print out with ads from nearby businesses) and we thought about ways to sabotage it.
This morning, had a literal water cooler conversation (wtf is my life) at work, and talked with a co-worker (she’s in a different department but we share office space) AND SHE WENT ON THE HOME TOUR.
I had to bite my tongue and hold back my screams. The poor simple white woman was saying, “It was so interesting to see how people renovated their homes!” and “Someone bought up a house for $16,000 while on the tour!”
I’ve never loved a neighborhood more than the one I live in, and feeling the gentrification is super hard.
And I know I’ll always be perceived as a white person, so I do what I can, on the individual level. I know my neighbors, I wave and chat with folks, I get involved with my community when I can. I go to community dinners. I try to listen. I try to ask questions if that’s happening. I go to city meetings and stand with my people, if they’re going to a city meeting.
But everyday I can’t help but analyze how I’m contributing to gentrification.
Does my white face make my white neighbors feel safer? Do I have to get to know these people so I can collect them if necessary?
I’ll always always be grateful for my roommate C— no matter which Black folks I run into when I’m walking down the damn street, someone will ask me where I live, and when I tell them, they say, “OHHHHH You live with C! Tell her I say hello!”
That’s what neighbors feel like. We’re not silent strangers.