Genfrication

So when I moved back to Houston, I had my heart set on downtown living. Since I had been gone they have build beautiful high rise buildings for prices I would have dreamed of on the east coast. I had a couple of building picked out that that were a couple distance from good eats and a ballgame. Then I got pregnant. Now my priorities had to change. I need a two bedroom apartment as appose to the studio or efficiency across the street from Minute Maid Park.  As a result of my partner moving in with me… I needed something close to the Veterans Affairs Hospital. I knew the next best place was Third Ward.

Third Ward is wear its happening. It’s 5 minutes away from downtown. It has pre-war structures. Better yet it reminds me of my great grandmother- Gloria. Of course I fit and I wanted to raise my child here. In the last couple of years this portion of Houston has lost it’s originality.

I have lived in this ward off and on for the past 10 years. I remember when a doctor moved in with his young wife and 4 year old daughter further down Delano between Blogget and Southmore. I though, ” Oh that’s cool. There will be kids in the neighborhood again.” I also remembered some years back when a gay couple purchased a house and build up like castle. I said to myself, ” Oh that’s interesting.”

But now old homes are being torn down for new industrial style lofts. They have a yoga meditation center within walking distance of my apartment. The ran rail line also within walking distance between University of Houston and Texas Southern University. It dawn on me to this weekend how hip Third Ward has become. I was at a friends birthday party the group was going out for drinks. I passed up opportunity merely because it was late. My son wasn’t going to go sleep without me.  I over heard them saying off Southmore. I was like nah not my side of Southmore. Sunday morning pictures were posted and sure enough they had gone to one of the new bars in the neighborhood further up Southmore. I was surprised.

I had to go back really think about what was happening to my neighborhood. Then I had to ask myself was I a “gentrifier?”

I have spent a small sent in Brooklyn, New York where I consider myself gentrifying the neighborhood. I didn’t have an apartment of my own. I never had money to really take part in any of the hip things going on  unless a friend offered to take me out for drinks. And most of remnants of older inhabitants of days long go thought I was old Jamaican lady’s grand-daughter come to visit from the Southwest. I remember being in Starbucks in and this Jamaican guy asked for change. I was looking like a real hipster that day. As I gave the guy my letter over loose change he asked, ” Are Jamaican… Are you from Brooklyn… I think I know you.” I grinned and said no.

My experience with Third Ward is a little different. My grandfather’s (maternal) family moved to Houston and lived in Fourth Ward by the turn of the 20th century. Sometime after 20’s my family relocated (grand parents) to Third Ward. The only property that is left in the family is great grandmother’s house that sits on Arbor. Across the street Local AME church has created a memorial for great great grandmother over a property that use to house wayward boys. They use the duplex now as a ministry for women.

I myself remember skating down the streets when I was 5. Getting kicked out of the one Ralston’s Liquor  store at age 10 for going to pick up some cigarettes for my aunt.Visiting my great grandmother in the apartment she lived in by herself. I even attended and graduated from Texas Southern which is in the heart of Third Ward. My great uncle was shot catching the bus in Third Ward.

I think my issue with Gentrification is the loss History and people’s intention. I have no problem with my neighborhood becoming more integrated. Restaurants and bars are major plus for me. I have an issue with people forgetting that people were confined to live in these areas. That schools in this city weren’t integrated till the 70s. That there were sit ins and riots that happened during the Civil Rights Movement in Third Ward. That my Grandfather died in this part of the city. Yes, its close to downtown, West University, the Kirby district, and the Galleria. But it’t so much more for me.

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