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Author: Raine    Date: 09/23/2019 13:13:48

Over the weekend, I read an article about a woman who had been priced out of her home, the place she rented for over 40 years, due to gentrification in Washington DC. Her name is Senatherea Price.
She’d moved to this block in Shaw when she was a mother in her 20s, raising three children and a nephew in a neighborhood that was once mostly black and is now overwhelmingly white.

She paid $525 a month to rent her two-bedroom apartment — at least $1,500 less than what many apartments in this neighborhood now commanded.

Price was wearing a blue summer dress and her thick hair was plaited in two French braids. She’d just gotten off work at the Social Security Administration office in Northeast Washington, where she has worked for as long as she has lived in this apartment.

“I am the kind of person who doesn’t like change,” she said. “I spent 40 years in the same job; 40 years in the same apartment.”
That she held a government job for as long as she lived in her neighborhood is telling. This isn't solely about wages keep up with the cost of living, this is gentrification happening with no care to the people that have spent lives in neighborhoods. Ms. Price stopped to speak to one of her White neighbors.

“I’m part of the change,” he said. “I feel bad. There is one [black-owned] house left on this block. An original elderly couple who have been here a long time. When I moved here, there were more. I feel like they are being pushed out, but they are making millions on the houses they’ve had for so long.”

He said he can sometimes feel the resentment when he passes black people on the street. "We are a Friday hot spot for African Americans who come in from suburbs,” he said.

Price interrupted: “You think it’s African Americans from the suburbs or African Americans who moved out and are coming back to their neighborhoods?”

He said he didn’t know.

Price ended the conversation by inviting him to her annual summer cookout: “We barbecue. We play cards. I always invite all the neighbors.”

The man politely declined. He’d be at his beach house, he said.

Now WaPo is one of the few places where I tend to peruse the comments section. That's not to say there isn't disagreement, it that it's generally a more eloquent type of disagreement and this story laid bare how so many white people still don't understand what Ms. Price and many of her neighbors are and have gone through. That said, this comment gave me pause, and I feel like it encompasses what so many people refuse to understand (bold face mine).
I was among the first white folks to move to the immediate vicinity. I personally renovated and re-sold several houses and still live just around the corner from Whitelaw. Unlike Gary Hyde I admit that, benefiting from the affirmative action unofficially available to white folks, I unjustly helped gentrify the neighborhood. I had just got divorced, was out of work and had no background in real estate or business of any kind. So I was shocked when the first bank I asked for a personal line of credit said "yes", no strings attached, which helped me get started in 1993. I made enough money to retire 8 years later at the age of 51. I'm forever thankful for the opportunity. But I so wish similar credit had been available to the honorable African American residents who had held this blighted neighborhood together through its worst two decades. I can honestly say my tainted success turned me totally against our racist-capitalist system. We have democracy for some, but rarely for the people who need protection the most.

There has to be a better way.





4 comments (Latest Comment: 09/23/2019 17:40:26 by BobR)
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