Archive for the ‘habitat’ Tag

Human Habitat is more than Air, Water and Shelter. It is a Place for Our Souls.   Leave a comment

gye-nyame1.jpgWhile reading my VONA girl’s piece (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vanessa-martir/remembering-brooklyn_b_6567644.html) I started reflecting on the changes to the most diverse zip code in the country. My neighborhood!

l live on Beacon Hill in South Seattle. For a while I’ve joked that I can’t wait for gentrification to make it here so we can get car2go, a bus that runs every 10 minutes like it does in the renamed neighborhood up the street and a cup of coffee while I sit in a cafe.

Now that gentrification is getting closer,  I feel like a Black Paul Revere, yelling, “The British are coming.”  Just so we are clear, I am talking about culture, not race. For the 11 years I have lived on south Beacon Hill, the white, Black, Vietnamese, Chinese, Latino and East African neighbors greet each other on the streets. Our smiles are one language. Our neighborhood is Seattle’s diversity! Over the last few years it has been touted as the most diverse in the nation. REPRESENT 98118 we say sporting bumper stickers and T-shirts! Famed writer, Nancy Rawles led a project to celebrate who we are. The total number of languages spoken here gives us census rating clout.

Behind it, few know that this western refuge of the United States holds the lines of prejudice and systemic racism that carved inequality into the fabric of this land. Called RED LINING it is a root in our current disenfranchisement and wonderful diversity. Our neighborhood was the only place non-whites were allowed to live because of the RESTRICTIVE HOUSING COVENANTS (http://depts.washington.edu/civilr/segregated.htm)  in Seattle that blocked our access to cleaner air, parks and interracial habitat.

Now that more people are leaving the newly unaffordable neighborhoods that were historically segregated by white supremacists, people act like they have been forced to move into the neighborhood that is the last affordable refuge. Now fewer conversations take place at the bus stop. Fewer hellos and nods that Black people offer each other to say, “yes, I see you in a world where we are made invisible.” In fact, many of our neighbors who speak ENGLISH ONLY are reticent even when greeted with the word “hello.” Their silent response and averted eyes seems so strange in a neighborhood of nods that are understood despite language barriers.

The cost of a latte is too high when it means the culture of our souls disappears in the foam.