If Buffalo were All White
by Chris Stevenson
Right now gentrification is the current plan for whites who look forward to taking back Buffalo (after voluntarily leaving decades ago). The G-word can strike more fear into blacks than White Jesus himself depending on who you listen to. The late Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, and Dr. Umar Johnson and Dr. Stacy Sutton are among those harboring various views of gentrification.
Dr. Welsing said this on gentrification on 10/20/15 “This is what reminds me so much of what happened in Germany in the 2nd world war to the population of the Semites of the Jewish religion… Washington DC is the most powerful city in the world, we have a black President, we have a black Mayor in place. And the same time, black people are being forced out of the city and I say this is no different than what happened in Germany. The United States is the new Germany, and Washington DC is the new Berlin. And we are as black people… the white people are the new Germans and the black people are the new Jews, and we’re building toward a new Holocaust.”
Dr. Johnson: “The greatest expansion of white private schools came right after the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. When you thought they ruled out racism in education, that’s when white private schools expanded like never before. They started poppin up all over the place, because the burden of White Supremacy says what? ‘I must always look better than black people.’ So the minute our children started going to white public schools they pulled their kids out and started private schools. So when you show up appying to a private school, they automatically upset because they tryin to get away from you and you can’t seem to leave them alone. White folks go to the suburbs, you go right behind them. They open up a school for white kids, you go. They so used to you following them, they can’t run no more… so now they decided ‘we gonna go back into the inner cities where we started and leave these Negroes out here. It’s called gentrification. You fail to realize communities are built, you don’t move to them, you build them.” The issue regarding the Fruitbelt is not directly related to people from there having deserted those streets for the suburbs decades ago as brother Johnson so passionately adds, instead in Buffalo it is a key component to a program connected to the revitalization of the medical corridor. In fact revitalization is gentrification’s polar opposite, except it is being implemented for those backing the current medical corridor project downtown.
Somewhere in between is Dr. Sutton’s take. She stated revitalization is not gentrification because for one thing revitalization does not displace residents, direct displacement is done by high double digit rent increases (she cites 50-60%; Ms. Hemphill-Nicholes increase is 47% over time). Gentrification is a social justice issue. This is the most sound and relevant view of the g-word as relating to downtown Buffalo.
John Washington, a community organizer for Push Buffalo explains how Fruitbelt residents can have 100% control of over 200 vacant lots in that community. “A land trust is basically a legal entity that would own the land… let me get just one thing out of the way. We do not want to stop development, we actually want to create a new kind of development. A development that engages residents in the process of how development works, that guarantees them space everywhere. We all have a right to this city, but the people who have lived here, 30,40,50,60,70 years have a right to stay here. And just because ten thousand medical students are about to start filling up that medical campus, and need places to live and have money to spend on this space does not mean that the people here should have to move out… this is the most valuable land in the city of Buffalo, some of the most undervalued land in the country.” Whatever land the powerful white man wants automatically becomes the most valuable land for that time being, regardless of whatever he tells you. According to the “Community Land Trust in a Nutshell” video “every community land trust is unique because it uniquely shapes itself to the specific needs of it’s local area and it’s local community.” Community land trusts are not to be viewed as exclusive or as working more effectively in the suburbs as opposed to urban areas. There are no rules.
On the other hand others say it’s not the plot many blacks think it is. There are whites who consider the comparison to Nazi Germany to be “extreme” or “a stretch.” Somewhere in between is Stacey Sutton. Her take on gentrification presents new food for thought. Local activist Veronica Hemphill-Nicholes emailed myself and others the Sutton video recently.
Disinvestment was a process taking place over several decades until we have what we have now. Ghettos are said to have been created through urban planning. The same holds true for gentrification. Disinvestment is merely forcing blacks from their homes from the time of slavery, lynchings to Jim Crow, except today it’s done by omission, or not investing. As much as we have seen of the Fruitbelt story in recent years, this is far from over.
This is just a short-list of some basic differences I see regarding life in Buffalo if one segment of the world’s population somehow never arrived to this overthinking, underachieving, city.
-There would be less funeral homes.
-There would be less churches
-There would be a much lower amount of jail cells.
-There would have been an actual full swimming pool on the Eastside for kids. JFK pools and park would have been remodeled long ago.
-Police Checkpoints wouldn’t exist.
-There would be markedly less toxic waste sites-especially on the Eastside. New waterlines and no lead… pretty much like those in the Harbor.
-Construction job openings and hiring would take place downtown or close to it, and on a busline.
-There would already have been a downtown all-purpose stadium, probably from the first dome stadium built in the late-’60’s.
-Charter schools would never exist here.
-There would be historically few police complaints (because there would be much lower misconduct).
-The high crime would be meth, powered cocaine, and heroin.
-There would be less high blood pressure, diabetes and mental illness in Buffalo because there would be no one for whites to project their racism towards.
-There would have been no ideas called “regionalism” here.
-There would have been no plans to reduce the Common Council or County Legislature seats.
-Voting districts would not have been tampered with.
-There would be no Gentrification here.
Chris Stevenson is author of “The MAO Syndrome: A Timeline of Newspaper columns Tracking Hate, Fear, Loathing, Obstinacy, and Stubbornness of many on the right & some on the left who are simply Mad At Obama.” He is also a regular columnist for blackcommentator, and a contributor to the Hampton Institute, his own blog www.thebuffalobullet.com, and a syndicated columnist. Follow him on Twitter, and Facebook, you don’t have to join any of them. Watch his video commentary Policy & Prejudice for clbTV & Follow his Blogtalkradio interviews on 36OOseconds. Respond to him by email; firstname.lastname@example.org