At 11pm on February 28th, my brother sent a text saying, “Happy last hour of black history month…” . It was a half joking yet eerily deep text that embodied the feelings that many Blacks experience when the end of February arrives. Every February I feel a hurried obligation to learn new history about the contributions that Blacks have made in this country and worldwide. The notion that our contribution has been small enough to fit into one month and isn’t worth exploring outside of those 28 days is the root of these hurried feelings.
This February however, I paid my respects by reflecting on the future of the Black community in Detroit and throughout the nation. One question that has been on replay in my mind lately is, ‘ how do we bring about the change that we’ve been talking about in liberal circles for hundreds of years’. In Detroit and many major cities there is much discussion surrounding recent trends in gentrification. I’ve been thinking about the ways that gentrification impacts the Black community here in Detroit. So far my observations have lead me to believe that there is gentrification that is considered “acceptable”and there is gentrification that is considered bad. Gentrification that is generally accepted would be a non-profit “doing good” in the city. However it seems most of the non-profits are run by white males, a fact that is problematic and one that speaks to a deeper issue. If non-profits are truly committed to bettering the community… why do they continue to mirror oppressive systems?
A couple weeks back the fellows had the opportunity to go see the new James Baldwin documentary called, I Am Not Your Negro. It was a thought provoking movie that inspired me to keep thinking about systems and how they can change for the better. The movie also inspired me to begin processing my thoughts regarding systems of oppression on paper. I know that concrete solutions won’t arrive over night, but I feel I owe it to myself and others like me to continue contributing to the conversation.