Poverty Tours

HopesAndDreamsish3

Art from Amplifer: Gregg Deal – Real Power Real People

Today was my computer and office day. It’s been much needed since I’ve been out of the office for most of the week and having just come off of the Thanksgiving break. It was nice to have some desk time. I took a break to check Twitter and saw a tweet from a policy conference. The tweet was sharing how a panelist talked about why representation from people of color with diverse backgrounds and experiences are necessary to forming policy. The speaker, a Black womxn, said she was tired of going on ‘poverty tours’ and seeing herself in the faces of the people she was meeting and having to promise the people she was meeting with that things would be different. This resonated with me.

Closer to home I’ve been working on a huge community-based survey project. Tonight, I joined a school at their literacy night to collect surveys. Our survey is long, it takes time to fill out, and even with translated copies, it takes a lot of effort to complete. It also takes a lot of trust for families, especially families of color, to trust us with their stories and data. They don’t want to be the paper version of a poverty tour. They want to know their information will be treated with care, valued, and we’ll use it for their benefit. While they didn’t say it directly in many ways they asked what will change because they took the time to fill out the survey.

Why Poverty Tours Need to End

We need to stop putting BIPOCs on display. We often preach on this blog and in other racial equity work that pocs need to be included, consulted, and inform and be informed. Some people take this to mean they do site visits, have diverse speaker panels, and bring in experts, or charter buses to go on tours. I’ve listened to many school board meetings where they talk about ‘student voice’ as being important — this ends up being literally student voice, “We want your voice, here read from this script. Don’t tell us your thoughts.”

A few years ago, a professor from a prestigious business school told a story about how every year the faculty from the influential business school goes on a learning trip. The trips are often to other countries so they can learn about emerging economies, trade, or other things related to their research and teaching. Instead that year, the faculty deliberated and through a serious of deep conversations decided they wanted to understand the experiences of Americans. They wanted to understand the great divide facing America. It made for a compelling story and I think they were proud of themselves for recognizing needs within their own country. They felt compelled to learn about their own, to revisit their proverbial backyard. Yet this learning tour and story missed the mark. What I wanted to hear but didn’t was how the tour impacted their work, how they built and sustained relationships with communities, how it wasn’t a one-way transactional occurrence. A fly-by of learning. Maybe they did these things but in the storytelling I missed it.

These poverty tours are damaging and in the long run hurt communities of color. We don’t need more people coming in to extract information to use it in their teaching and research. We don’t need people retelling or defining poverty and poc experiences. We definitely don’t need a bus load of white and pocs with privilege coming into the hood to gawk, nod, or to hold our hands with pity – this is awkward for everyone, especially the pocs who are closer to the people.

Charity programs are really good at poverty tours – present poor people, guilt people into doing something, donate money, and they feel good. No mess, no need to get involved, it is easy. Systems level change can’t happen with charity models.

Don’t pack for the bus ride, invest like you live there.

If we want to stop racial inequities we can’t rely upon poverty tours. We need to invest in relationships and recreating the ways we operate. We need to allow the people who are most impacted by injustices to define their own problems and solutions.

Community Led or Community Informed

The opposite of the business school story from above comes from a colleague and friend who leads an advocacy organization. Paola shared the question, “Are we community led, or community informed?” She went on to talk about how much of the policy work happening today, even from the most progressive organizations, is often community informed. I appreciate the distinction between the two dichotomies, and even with this there are gradations.

While community led is best, much of our work is often community informed. Being community led often means restructuring the way we work. It means suspending judgment and allowing the community to take us in new directions. Poverty bus tours do not exist in this world because the work is now embedded and a part of the community, not just a stop along the highway. Too often our work is still community informed – a stop along the way where we sit to listen to people who are impacted by injustices, maybe a stop to have coffee, then drive back to our offices to sit with the stories we learned and try to craft policies or adapt practices that tinker at the edges of their injustices.

Instead, we need to invest and support authentically built and sustained community led efforts. These organizations or sometimes even grassroots projects may look and feel very different than what we are used to seeing and supporting. As an example, I’m part of a Facebook group, Gifts of Hope-Seattle run by a local African American mom. Samona created the group to support families she’s met living in a tiny home village and in transitional shelters. Through her Facebook group, with almost 800 people in the group, she shares the needs of families and asks others to step in to help. Oftentimes, the asks are for simple things such as new shoes, a simple birthday party for a child, or providing hot meals to the community. While her organization isn’t an advocacy organization, she is their best advocate. She has the trust of the families and knows they need. Yet her work is often overlooked (or under-recognized) since it doesn’t look like most mainstream nonprofits or advocacy organizations. She’s helped close to 20,000 people last year. She knows her families and if we invest in her and her work she is a closer advocate then many professional advocates, board members, or policymakers.

When we stop and listen over time and build trust with people, we find new solutions. Our assumptions change, our beliefs can grow, and reframe our thinking. We can’t do this by whizzing through on a poverty bus tour.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers who help to keep the blog going: Adrienne, Aimie,Ali, Aline, Alissa, Amy, Amy R., Andrea, Angie, Anh-Chi, Annie, Annie G.,  Ashlie, Ben, Betsy, Brooke, Brian, C+C, Caitlin, Calandra, Carolyn C., Carolyn M., Carrie, Carrie S., Casey, Chandra, Chelsea, Chicxs Happy Brownies, Claudia, Cierra, Clark, Colleen, Crystal, Dan, Danya, Darcie, Dawnnesha, Dean, Debbie (x2), Denise, Denyse, Dick, Donald, Edith, Elena, emily, Erica (2), Erica R.B., Erin, Evan, eve, Freedom, Greg, Hannah, Heather, Heidi, Heidi and Laura, Heidi S., Jake, Janis, Jean, Jena, Jennet, Jennifer C., Jennifer M., Jennifer T., Jessica, Jessica G., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Julia, Julie Anne, K.T., Kari, Karen, Katheryn, Kathi, Katie, Keisha, Kelli, Kristen, Kristen C., Kristen D., Kumar, Laura, Laurel, Laurie, Leah, Lisa, Lisa C., Liz, Lori, Lynn, Lynn D., Makeba, Marc, Maria, Mary, Matthew, Maura, McKenzie, Megan, Melissa, Michael, Michelle, Mikaela, Mike, Milo, Minesh, Miranda, Miriam, Misha, Molly, Natasha, Nathan, Nathan H., Nicole, Norah, Norrie, Paola, Patrick, Priya, Rebecca, Risa, Rise Up for Students, Robin, Ruby, Sarah, Sarah S., Sean, SEJE Consulting, Shannon, Shaun, Shawna, Shelby, Stephanie, Stephanie O., Stephanie S., Susan, Tana, Tania, Tara, Terri, Tracy, and Vivian. If I missed anyone my apologies and thank you for your support. Support the blog by becoming a Patreon supporter.

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My First Secret-Decoder Dictionary

Editor’s Note: Thank you to Carrie for guest writing this week’s blog post. Carrie is our white ally who periodically contributes to the blog about disability justice and thoughts on being an ally. This week she writes about being vague with language, which makes her cranky. AND, today is #ThankYouPatrons day! Thank you to all of our Patreon sponsors, you keep the blog going. A heartfelt thank you.

Fakequity is taking next week off to sleep, eat, watch Netflix, and maybe read a book (probably not). We’ll be back in December with some fresh blog posts.


By Carrie Griffin Basas, your virtual influencer, futurist, and psychic friend (and other words that confuse me)

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Red panda meme: What did you say? What did you really mean to say?

I suffer through meetings where others are speaking in polite and vague language. As my friends and colleagues note, I have a certain tell when I’m irritated. Going into cranky lawyer mode, I ask people to define something or describe what it looks like. Instead of breaking people’s will to participate in meetings with me, I’ve decided to create a self-soothing dictionary of what people really mean when they can’t define something.

Ally: self-anointed person no one asked to speak for them.

Community: people who were invited to come (or not) and they don’t look like the hosts.

DEI or EDI: “diversity, equity, and inclusion” or “equity, diversity, and inclusion”– used when someone is afraid to break down the components of racism, ableism, xenophobia, sexism, and other forms of oppression.

Disrupt: said something safely snarky and will now return to IG account for the remainder of this meeting.

Engage: sent an email without a relationship or briefly touched that person’s shoulder at a fundraiser. Multiple shoulders= “community engagement.”

Equity: trying to be “fair” while also being unclear about the origins of this issue and the solutions necessary to fix it. Please don’t ask me what I am trying to address but trust me that I am working on it.

Human-centered design: I work with people. Last time I checked, no lemmings were involved in creating my strategic plan, but of course, that would be easier.

Intersectional: it is complicated and I’m not sure how these pieces all go together but that’s cool. Wow, your identity is interesting. What percentage are you intersectional?

Issues: we have a problem, but we refuse to call it a problem. Erin’s speech professor despised the word issues; “People don’t have issues, they have problems.”

Outreach: making new friends with “community” (see definition above).

Race: literally mean a race or competition, like Race to the Top. Or talking about a marathon they just ran. People have a hard time saying the word race as it relates to people.

Special needs: afraid to say “disabled” or “disability.” Let’s right this wrong and use special needs in a sentence that reflects whose special need it is: “Penelope had special needs because she wanted to speak for all disabled people even though she was nondisabled.”

Stakeholdering: getting feedback after we’ve decided what we’re doing. Define stakeholders narrowly as to minimize work. (My friend Catherina pointed out how corporate this term is, as well as it how it ties to issues of land ownership and therefore, colonialism, racial covenants, and other economic justice issues.)

Strategic plan: document encapsulating vague commitments to DEI (see earlier definition) and the community/ies (see earlier definition) that I will engage.

Thought partner: you do the thinking so that I don’t have to. I’ll be sure to quote you in some meeting where others question my expertise to speak to this issue.

Let’s bring all this definitional work together now with an example of a meaningless statement that could be heard in your next meeting:

Through a human-centered outreach and disruptive stakeholdering strategy, I engaged with communitythought partners, and allies to strengthen our DEI strategic planning efforts around such intersectional issues as special needs, race, and equity.

But what if we simply said what we meant?

We need each other as we keep trying to be as human and loving as possible and to go beyond our limited experiences. Let’s blow things up together while celebrating the good stuff, like the fact that you see me and I see you. If I’m not accountable to you, if I don’t meet and honor you where you are, then let me know. I’ll do better. I want to do better.


Carrie Basas works in education advocacy and formerly in civil rights law, specializing in disabilities rights. Formerly she was a law professor impressing upon law students the importance of understanding race and its impact on people. Carrie has a MEd in Education Policy, Organizations and Leadership from the University of Washington. She earned a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School and an Honors B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Sociology/Anthropology from Swarthmore College. However, her biggest claim to fame is some of her fashion weekend wear while hanging with her family and dog.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers who help to keep the blog going: Adrienne, Aimie, Ali, Aline, Alissa, Amy, Amy R., Andrea, Angie, Anh-Chi, Annie, Annie G.,  Ashlie, Ben, Betsy, Brooke, Brian, C+C, Caitlin, Calandra, Carolyn C., Carolyn M., Carrie, Carrie S., Casey, Chandra, Chelsea, Chicxs Happy Brownies, Claudia, Cierra, Clark, Colleen, Crystal, Dan, Danya, Darcie, Dawnnesha, Dean, Debbie (x2), Denise, Denyse, Donald, Edith, Elena, emily, Erica (2), Erica R.B., Erin, Evan, eve, Freedom, Greg, Hannah, Heather, Heather H., Heidi, Heidi and Laura, Heidi S., Jake, Janis, Jean, Jeanne, Jennet, Jennifer C., Jennifer M., Jennifer T., Jessica, Jessica G., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon, JP, Julia, Julie Anne, K.T., Kari, Karen, Katheryn, Kathi, Katie, Kawai, Keisha, Kelli, Kristen, Kristen C., Kristen D., Kumar, Laura, Laura T., Laurel, Laurie, Leah, Lisa, Lisa C., Liz, Lori, Lynn, Lynn D., Makeba, Marc, Maria, Mark, Matias, Matthew, Maura, McKenzie, Megan, Melissa, Michael, Michelle, Migee, Mikaela, Mike, Milo, Minesh, Miranda, Miriam, Misha, Molly, Nat, Natasha, Nathan, Nathan H., Nicole, Norah, Norrie, Paola, Patrick, Polly, Priya, Rebecca, Risa, Rise Up for Students, Robin, Ruby, Sarah, Sarah S., Sarita, Sean, SEJE Consulting, Shannon, Shaun, Shawna, Shelby, Skyler, Stephanie, Stephanie O., Stephanie S., Susan, Tana, Tania, Tara, Terri, Tracy, and Vivian. If I missed anyone my apologies and thank you for your support. Support the blog by becoming a Patreon supporter.

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Asian American and Pacific Islander Womxn – Present and Creating Change

KateDeCiccio_LydiaXZBrown-WeTheFuture.jpg

Artwork from Amplifier Art: We The Future – artist: Kate DeCiccio of Lydia X. Z. Brown, read more about Lydia in the post

Last year I crowd-sourced a blog post documenting badass Asian American and Pacific Islander  (AAPI) Womxn. I learned a lot by researching the list of AAPI womxn friends told me about and how they shaped American politics, arts, sports, and society. That blog post came out of a feeling of invisibility in mainstream books and media.

AAPI womxn continue to do amazing things and many AAPIs continue to be overlooked, or our Asianness is not highlighted. This year I’m focusing on different categories to expand our knowledge of Asian American womxn and how we’re shaping the world.

As AAPI womxn we are here, we are doing important work, and we need to celebrate our accomplishments, including as they tie in big and small ways to our racial and ethnic heritages. Many times we can’t turn off being identified as Asian American womxn.

This list was compiled through crowdsourcing from friends. A special thank you to Carrie Basas for the list of Asian womxn working on disability justice. The rest of the list was compiled using research and internet searching which was harder than I thought it would be. AAPI womxn are out there doing amazing things, but often our Asianness and PIness isn’t always mentioned or highlighted, thus it takes some sleuthing to determine connections to racial, ethnic, or cultural connections. I aimed to include Asians from many different ethnicities. The Asian American and Pacific Islander experiences are not monolithic, we are diverse. As AAPI’s our stories are different as well as united.

I purposefully centered the list on Asian Americans, not Asians overall. I hope you will send me the names of other Asian American womxn who deserve to be recognized, there are many other categories I didn’t get to, including authors, environment, social services, and so many others. Email your suggestions to fakequity@gmail.com.

Disability Justice

Alice Wong – is the founder and director of the Disability Visibility Project.

Mia Mingus – “[Q]ueer physically disabled Korean woman transracial and transnational adoptee.” Writer and activist.

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha – poet, writer, and social justice activist. Burgher/Tamil Sri Lankan and Irish/Roma.

Lydia XZ Brown (they/them) — is a “disability justice advocate, organizer, educator, attorney, strategist, and writer whose work has largely focused on violence against multiply-marginalized disabled people, especially institutionalization, incarceration, and policing.”

Sandy Ho – Founder of Disability & Intersectionality Summit, queer, activist.

Arts

Ali Wong – comedian and now author, her Netflix specials are a must watch – I’ve stayed up way too late in bed watching and trying not to laugh out loud

Wu Tsang – filmmaker and performance artist, transgender

Medicine and Science

Kazue Togasaki – Dr. Togasaki was a physician in a US internment/concentration camp and delivered 10,000 babies during her lifetime. Japanese American.

Dr. Katherine Luzuriaga is a physician and pediatric immunologist. She was part of a three-womxn team that created a breakthrough in treating babies born to HIV infected mothers effectively curing and redefining how doctors think about HIV/AIDS. Filipino American.

Angela Duckworth – Researcher on psychology and author of the book Grit. Chinese American.

Activist

Channapha Khamvongsa – is dedicated to cleaning up unexploded bombs in Laos after the Vietnam war. She founded and leads the Legacies of War organization working to highlight the problem. Lao-American.

Ai-jen Poo – Labor activist with domestic workers, Chinese American.

sujatha baliga (does not capitalize her name) – Restorative justice practitioner and movement builder. Indian American.

Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner – Climate activist and poet. Marshall Island, Pacific Islander.

Leilani Muter – race car driver and environmental activist. Japanese-Hawaiian, White.

There are many other Asian Americans, many in your own communities. My friend Nicole reminds me we as Asian American womxn are present, we are in your organizations, schools, neighborhoods, and daily life. Celebrate each other and the contributions Asian and Pacific Islander womxn bring to the work.

I purposefully used the spelling of womxn.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers who help to keep the blog going: Adrienne, Aimie, Ali, Aline, Alissa, Amy, Amy R., Andrea, Angie, Anh-Chi, Annie, Annie G.,  Ashlie, Ben, Betsy, Brooke, Brian, C+C, Caitlin, Calandra, Carolyn C., Carolyn M., Carrie, Carrie S., Casey, Chandra, Chelsea, Chicxs Happy Brownies, Claudia, Cierra, Clark, Colleen, Crystal, Dan, Danya, Darcie, Dawnnesha, Dean, Debbie (x2), Denise, Denyse, Donald, Edith, Elena, emily, Erica (2), Erica R.B., Erin, Evan, eve, Freedom, Greg, Hannah, Heather, Heather H., Heidi, Heidi and Laura, Heidi S., Jake, Janis, Jean, Jeanne, Jennet, Jennifer C., Jennifer M., Jennifer T., Jessica, Jessica G., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon, JP, Julia, Julie Anne, K.T., Kari, Karen, Katheryn, Kathi, Katie, Kawai, Keisha, Kelli, Kristen, Kristen C., Kristen D., Kumar, Laura, Laura T., Laurel, Laurie, Leah, Lisa, Lisa C., Liz, Lori, Lynn, Lynn D., Makeba, Marc, Maria, Mark, Matias, Matthew, Maura, McKenzie, Megan, Melissa, Michael, Michelle, Migee, Mikaela, Mike, Milo, Minesh, Miranda, Miriam, Misha, Molly, Nat, Natasha, Nathan, Nathan H., Nicole, Norah, Norrie, Paola, Patrick, Polly, Priya, Rebecca, Risa, Rise Up for Students, Robin, Ruby, Sarah, Sarah S., Sarita, Sean, SEJE Consulting, Shannon, Shaun, Shawna, Shelby, Skyler, Stephanie, Stephanie O., Stephanie S., Susan, Tana, Tania, Tara, Terri, Tracy, and Vivian. If I missed anyone my apologies and thank you for your support. Support the blog by becoming a Patreon supporter.

If you subscribe to the blog, thank you. Please check fakequity.com for the most up to date version of the post. We often make grammatical and stylistic corrections after the first publishing which shows up in your inbox. To subscribe see the sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version).

 

One Question White People Should Stop Asking – What About Me?

Seagulls saying “MINE! MINE! MINE!”

By Erin Okuno

Earlier this week Jondou posed the question “What is one question we wished people would stop asking?” Some of the answers were hilarious others poignant. Many involved stories of people asking for more information then they were entitled to — a trusting relationship wasn’t in place. I shared, I wish white people and pocs with privilege would stop asking “What about me?”

The ‘what about me?’ questions don’t come out as blunt as these three words, it is more insidious, coded, and underhanded:

  • I’ve looked at the research and have questions about this [insert very particular situation]?
  • If you do [this], my child won’t receive [this] – what will you do for them then?
  • How do we get on the list? I really want to make sure we’re on the list.
  • We don’t want to do [fill in the blank] since it will be a hardship for our family. It will force us to change our daily routines or disrupt what we know.
  • What about my house value/safety/cleanliness if the tent encampment/tiny house village moves in a few blocks away?
  • The process didn’t include talking about how this impacts current participants, do we need to change sites/programs/etc.?

I work in the education sector and see and hear these conversations often. Every time there is a major shift in any educational policy people will turn out and advocate for their sides. The voices of privilege (including POCs with privilege) who want to protect their status, programs, place, etc. will show up and start using their voices to proclaim injustices. We also see it in the gun control debate — NRA and other gun rights advocates hunker down and say “What about my right to own a gun?,” “What about my ability to make a living as a legal gun dealer?,” and so on.

On a fundamental level, I get it – there is fear in the unknown, a loss or perceived loss, we’ve all experienced the pain of losing something. I remember when my kid was a toddler, I took a cookie from him that had dropped on the ground — he cried like I had taken away every cookie from him forever. The toddler-trauma of losing that cookie stayed with him for a while. With adults though I’m less patient and want to roll my eyes and say “Do you hear yourself? Stop.”

As humans, we are designed to want what is best. There was probably some evolutionary coding that makes us want the shiniest and best fruits and the fattiest pieces of meat. Those that found the best probably lived longer and received more. Our current racial and societal hierarchy continues to uphold this perception of wanting the best for ourselves and those in our immediate circles of care and influence. Elected offices are predicated on this – vote in the best interest of your constituents versus sometimes voting what is best for others. When we hoard for ourselves, we are taking from others and the me-ness, the my-s, and the hierarchies are upheld.

Instead of asking questions such as those listed above, we acknowledge we are ok and will continue to be ok. There are many others who are struggling more than us, sometimes these struggles are known, sometimes they are hidden, sometimes they aren’t even for us to know (we don’t deserve to know everyone’s stories). Our job is to practice empathy and use our privilege to support others who are furthest from justice.

Recently, I’ve read two books that shape a new path away from me-ness. The first is Malcolm Gladwell’s newest book Talking to Strangers and the second, Decolonizing Wealth by Edgar Villeanueva (skimmed this one, will read it in depth soon). Between these two books I’m struck by how much of our misunderstandings and beliefs of entitlements are rooted in being isolated from others. When we’re not in proximity to people who are different and not in just relations with others our world views are small. If all you see are your kid’s friends getting into gifted classes, then of course you want your kid to have that too, but if you see others – especially POC kids who can’t get into the system then the world becomes a little less myopic.

Saying we are ok, and we don’t always need the best is hard. There is always someone with more and we believe we are entitled to the same. But do we really need more? Do our kids really need every advantage they can take, and what are the trade-offs when we do this? Acting in the interest of others sometimes feels hard but the benefits will find you in other ways.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers who help to keep the blog going: Adrienne, Aimie, Ali, Aline, Alissa, Amy, Amy R., Andrea, Angie, Anh-Chi, Annie, Annie G.,  Ashlie, Ben, Betsy, Brooke, Brian, C+C, Caitlin, Calandra, Carolyn C., Carolyn M., Carrie, Carrie S., Casey, Chandra, Chelsea, Chicxs Happy Brownies, Claudia, Cierra, Clark, Colleen, Crystal, Dan, Danya, Darcie, Dawnnesha, Dean, Debbie (x2), Denise, Denyse, Donald, Edith, Elena, emily, Erica (2), Erica R.B., Erin, Evan, eve, Freedom, Greg, Hannah, Heather, Heather H., Heidi, Heidi and Laura, Heidi S., Jake, Janis, Jean, Jena, Jennet, Jennifer C., Jennifer M., Jennifer T., Jessica, Jessica G., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon, Julia, Julie Anne, K.T., Kari, Karen, Katheryn, Kathi, Katie, Keisha, Kelli, Kristen, Kristen C., Kristen D., Kumar, Laura, Laura T., Laurel, Laurie, Leah, Lisa, Lisa C., Liz, Lori, Lynn, Lynn D., Makeba, Marc, Maria, Mark, Matias, Matthew, Maura, McKenzie, Megan, Melissa, Michael, Michelle, Migee, Mikaela, Mike, Milo, Minesh, Miranda, Miriam, Misha, Molly, Natasha, Nathan, Nathan H., Nicole, Norah, Norrie, Paola, Patrick, Polly, Priya, Rebecca, Risa, Rise Up for Students, Robin, Ruby, Sarah, Sarah S., Sarita, Sean, SEJE Consulting, Shannon, Shaun, Shawna, Shelby, Skyler, Stephanie, Stephanie O., Stephanie S., Susan, Tana, Tania, Tara, Terri, Tracy, and Vivian. If I missed anyone my apologies and thank you for your support. Support the blog by becoming a Patreon supporter.

If you subscribe to the blog, thank you. Please check fakequity.com for the most up to date version of the post. We often make grammatical and stylistic corrections after the first publishing which shows up in your inbox. To subscribe see the sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version).

 

Spend Your Money Where it Matters — POC Business Map

Editor’s Note: Remember to vote! Election day is coming up next Tuesday, 5 November. Please remember to pay attention to all the races, especially those that typically don’t get a ton of attention such as school board races.

If you are in WA, learn more about Referendum 88. I won’t tell you how to vote, be an informed voter on this topic. I voted APPROVE. APPROVE means I’m using my vote to undo systemic racism in government agencies and university recruitment. This won’t solve all racism, but it is one step towards racial justice.


By Erin Okuno

About a week ago I received a text from my friend Lauren with a screenshot of a Facebook post showing the POC Business Map had been trolled. It was evening and I was playing board games with my kids, but this text looked serious. Someone took deleted every single pin on the map and left a snarky comment. I forwarded the screenshot to the rest of the Equity Matters team.

There was a mix of emotions from the team. Annoyance, anger, disappointment, pissyness, and then resolve to rebuild the map. The previous map had been accessed over 103,000 times – presumably to do good by finding and investing back into people of color owned businesses. The map was created in Google Maps and open source, meaning anyone could use it for good or to sabotage the efforts by deleting all of the pins.

Heidi and Mindy of Equity Matters created the original map several years ago. It started as a way for Heidi to find some places where she could meet clients and friends for drinks and food. She wanted to make sure her money was being invested into POC businesses. Mindy did some basic research and the framework for the map. It was shared on social media and tons of pins were added. I also hope people used it to find new businesses and to support community building efforts.

When we learned the map was trolled, we assessed what we could do. Some swear words flew back and forth via text, food pictures too since it was evening and we had just gotten off of work. When we stopped swearing and eating we looked into things and figured out there wasn’t a way to recover the original map. Sadly, Google Maps doesn’t have an undo function. What we were lucky L Patrice saw the Facebook post and offered a copy of the map. It gave us a start to rebuild from.

The new map is organized slightly differently. This one is not sorted by business type (e.g. restaurants, coffee shops, services, etc.), version two is sorted by race. This change allows us to intentionally support POCs and holds us more accountable to supporting diverse POCs.

Heidi and the Equity Matters team decided to continue to keep it open source. We trust people to use it for good. We are making copies of the map often and asking others to do the same. If it is trolled again we may put out a call to the community to share their copies. The benefits of having an open-source map is more important than locking it or not rebuilding. We are resilient and more passionate than one troll who was angry or bored for 40 minutes which is the amount of time it took the person to delete all of the pins from the last map.

Why and How to Use the Map

Heidi created the map so she could more easily find places to drink and eat. She wanted to spend her drinking and eating money at POC owned businesses. There are racial wealth gaps in America and where people spend their money can either close or widen those gaps. Because of these racialized wealth gaps business owners of color, especially Black and Brown business owners, have a harder time accessing loans, investors, and networks to gain access to information and power brokers. Spending money within communities of color and purchasing from business owners of colors helps them keep their businesses going and gaining access to more capital and opportunities.

The power of networks is important. When you support business owners of color there is a good chance they are connected to other POCs and will share information, tips, and relationships within these informal and formal networks. This will help to seed the next round and generation of POC business owners.

The map is one of many ‘tools’ out there to help you find businesses where you can spend your money. As an example, if you are trying to set up a business lunch, pull up the map and look for a POC owned lunch spot nearby. Or if you are looking for a specific type of business such as a bookstore, type that into the search bar to see what pops up. Many of the bookstores listed have online stores that can expand your ability to support POCs nationally.

We know you have POC businesses we don’t know about. Please share them by placing a pin for that business. Find the race category for the business on the left side and click the category, then type the business name into the search bar, when you find the business and location click ‘+ Add to map.’ This is easier to do on a computer than a mobile device. We are excited to see the map expand and grow nationally.

Link to the new map is here. Bookmark it so you can refer to it often. Make copies of it too so we have many many many backup copies.

POC Business Map


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Community Engagement BINGO 2 — What to Do

community engagement bingo 2

Last week I put up a BINGO board about community engagement around what not to do. This week while sitting in a meeting I had a moment of enlightenment/ vulnerability/ happiness, that moment led to me realizing I should create a BINGO board focused on what we should do, not just the negatives. This week’s blog post is Community Engagement BINGO 2, What to Do.

Gather a few friends or colleagues and think through your community engagement practices. Give yourself a high five for the boxes you do well. I hope you get a full board of checked off boxes. If you don’t check something off, talk about how you can work to improve your practices.

Below is a list of the text in the BINGO board boxes. I’m sharing it below to allow for more people to be able to read it — small screens make the image hard to read and disability screenreaders and Braille translators do not read images well.

Community Engagement BINGO 2 — What to do:

Clearly articulating who should attend the event (Don’t say everyone. Inviting everyone is inviting no one.)

Ongoing engagement, not one-time events

Creating multiple ways to engage with the overall work (e.g. in person, online, live stream, smaller focus groups, surveys, apps, etc.)

Clear contact information shared

Appropriate notice is provided for events and meetings

Co-designing community engagement with people most impacted

Continually identifying barriers to participation and working to remove them

Listening to people and responding

Being clear about your commitment to undoing racism and centering BIPOCs

Inviting and welcoming people to join, especially paying attention to diversity

Sharing and distributing power (e.g. decision making authority, resources, etc.)

On sign-up forms inviting people to share their needs (e.g. dietary, child care, disabilities accommodations, language, etc.)

Events hosted in accessible locations (e.g. neighborhoods of people most impacted, public transit, ADA compliant, etc.)

Checking calendars to make sure religious and cultural holidays are avoided

Outlining next steps and responsibilities

Creating opportunities for people to build and sustain diverse relationships

Build trust over time and practice transparency, especially when things go wrong

Recognize the expertise of People of Color and those farthest from justice

Be specific and clear with language (i.e. avoid acronyms, no derogatory language, translators appreciate specific language—say what you mean to say, etc.)

Allowing adequate time and physical space for people to interact and understand the content

Dot voting by language – different color dots represents different home languages. Copyright BN

Interactive presentations with meaningful engagement. The photo is an example of how a school community engaged with families across language. The different colored dots represented different home languages.

Facilitators who pay attention to the energy in the room and specifically paying attention to POCs who may not be heard

Follow up by summarizing what you heard and learn. Don’t be an askhole.

Bonus Ideas for the FREE Square

Food – providing culturally resonate and tasty food is a good practice. Spend the money on the good catering from a POC owned restaurant.

Childcare – providing high-quality childcare AND providing ways for children to meaningfully participate in the event or project is important. At another time I’ll share some stories about this topic.

Translated Material and Interpretation – Being able to understand and be understood is a key component of community engagement.

Attentive to cultural norms and practices.

Special thank you to Bao for a few of the ideas, including the box around FOOD, cause food is bonding and engaging across communities. 


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Community Engagement BINGO

community engagement bingo

By Erin Okuno

This week I give you Community Engagement BINGO. Community engagement is one of the many ways we can get closer to achieving racial equity, and yet there are so many ways it can go wrong. The terms on the BINGO cards offer some clues and ideas of what not to do. I’ve also listed them as a list below to make it easier to read through and to support accessibility of screen readers.

I hope the BINGO card sparks conversations with you and your teams. You can think and talk about why terms listed and how your organization either works to avoid them or maybe needs to break out of that process.

Have fun!

List of terms:

  • Host listening sessions with no follow-up
  • Engagement is a process check, something to check off the list
  • One-time community engagement
  • Expecting those most impacted to do the recruitment
  • Thinking community engagement is all in-person large events
  • Community engagement with stakeholders they already hear from
  • Using only online surveys for community engagement
  • Don’t share/report back the findings #extraction
  • Engagement only in English, filled with acronyms, etc.
  • Task forces used as the only means of engagement
  • No trust is built between community and organization
  • Agenda and the design of meetings/engagement is controlled by the power holders not the community
  • Data from the engagement isn’t used or followed through
  • Public testimony is considered “engagement”
  • Community engagement is inaccessible to the communities most impacted – location/time/cost
  • New community members are not welcomed into the engagement / Echo-chamber
  • Beauty Contest engagement – the pretty and popular ideas are the only ones featured
  • Those giving ideas are not recognized as the originators of the ideas #extraction
  • Community engagement to get the community to “buy into” idea
  • Engaging people only when you need something (e.g. crisis, potential backlash, etc.)
  • Allowing only the dominant voices to be heard
  • Using a token few to represent all poc or racial groups perspectives
  • Talking at and to people for the entire engagement period
  • Engagement with special interest groups and no one else

Thank you to our Patreon subscribers who help to keep the blog going: Adrienne, Aimie, Ali, Aline, Alissa, Amy, Amy R., Andrea, Angie, Anh-Chi, Annie, Annie G.,  Ashlie, Ben, Betsy, Brooke, Brian, C+C, Caitlin, Calandra, Carolyn C., Carolyn M., Carrie, Carrie S., Casey, Chandra, Chelsea, Chicxs Happy Brownies, Claudia, Cierra, Clark, Colleen, Crystal, Dan, Danya, Darcie, Dawnnesha, Dean, Debbie (x2), Denise, Denyse, Donald, Edith, Elena, emily, Erica (2), Erica R.B., Erin, Evan, eve, Freedom, Greg, Hannah, Heather, Heather H., Heidi, Heidi and Laura, Heidi S., Jake, Janis, Jean, Jena, Jennet, Jennifer C., Jennifer M., Jennifer T., Jessica, Jessica G., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Julia, Julie Anne, K.T., Kari, Karen, Katheryn, Kathi, Katie, Keisha, Kelli, Kristen, Kristen C., Kristen D., Kumar, Laura, Laurel, Laurie, Leah, Lisa, Lisa C., Liz, Lori, Lynn, Lynn D., Makeba, Marc, Maria, Mark, Matias, Matthew, Maura, McKenzie, Megan, Melissa, Michael, Michelle, Mikaela, Mike, Milo, Minesh, Miranda, Miriam, Misha, Molly, Natasha, Nathan, Nathan H., Nicole, Norah, Norrie, Paola, Patrick, Priya, Rebecca, Risa, Rise Up for Students, Robin, Ruby, Sarah, Sarah S., Sarita, Sean, SEJE Consulting, Shannon, Shaun, Shawna, Shelby, Skyler, Stephanie, Stephanie O., Stephanie S., Susan, Tana, Tania, Tara, Terri, Tracy, and Vivian. If I missed anyone my apologies and thank you for your support. Support the blog by becoming a Patreon supporter.

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What we lost – gentrification part II

20180427_173142

Don’t Displace the Southend yard sign from got green

A few weeks ago, I wrote about gentrification and how it shows up in little and big ways. After writing that post, Heidi suggested we take a little tour of what has been lost due to gentrification. We could take a tour of the neighborhood and point out places that were once there and now are big boxy buildings.

  • Viet-Wah Grocery Store
  • Inay’s Filipino Restaurant and Kusina Filipina
  • Imperial Lanes Bowling Alley – while this wasn’t POC owned losing it meant losing a big part of poc culture in my neighborhood
  • Head Start programs – United Indians of All Tribes and Mount Zion
  • Yasuko’s Teriyaki – this was my college teriyaki spot, right below my dorm with a plate of rice and chicken for about $5.
  • LEMS Bookstore, a community Black owned bookstore
  • African American and Black churches

When we lose POC businesses we lose a part of our community’s soul. I asked friends what has been lost because of gentrification. I thought they would have named businesses that closed, old houses no longer there, or other physical places. Instead, people mentioned a sense and feeling of losing culture and soul. These losses for communities of color extend beyond losing beloved restaurants and gathering places, it is a loss of identity and community.

My friends mentioned missing a sense of safety and easy living among people who are sturdy and not fragile. Another friend mentioned how she misses having neighbors who weren’t nosy. She said her new neighbors call the police for petty things like fireworks, cars parked for longer than 2-days, and they post their disgruntled thoughts on social media versus working to build tolerance and a sense of community.

If you want to see more of what we’ve lost, check out the Istagram and Facebook pages for Vanishing Seattle. Other cities may have similar social media feeds.

We need to do more to hold our communities in place – it is that simple.

I attended the Washington State Budget & Policy Center’s Budget Matters symposium a few weeks ago. It is a great event to nerd out on tax policy made more understandable. One of the panelist mentioned that unequal tax policies are aiding and accelerating gentrification. She talked about how internet companies, like the large one that smiles everywhere, didn’t collect state sales taxes for many states, while small mom-and-pop businesses collected and shouldered unequal tax burdens. Guess who is still smiling. Read this report on how reforming our ancient, unbalanced, and unjust tax code can advance racial equity.

When we lose critical mass of lower income people, especially people of color, we change as a community. We lose diversity and the empathy we develop by being in proximity to people who are different from us, this in turn makes us better thinkers and problem solvers.

Government policy, philanthropic support, and better governance practices could help to keep families in place. Housing policies that only focus on increasing housing units and not looking at supporting those with the highest barriers to housing are missing the mark. Such as for undocumented families and others without social security numbers or credit scores, the barriers and burdens of securing long-term housing is really hard to find and the cost to get into the unit is often out of reach for families.

We can build better solutions to support keeping our communities together and thriving. We just need to create some new ways of thinking so we don’t lose what makes us great. Greatness isn’t found in the homogeneity of Whole Foods and Starbucks. Greatness is found when we are a thriving and diverse community that takes care of each other.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers who help to keep the blog going: Adrienne, Aimie, Ali, Aline, Alissa, Amy, Amy R., Andrea, Angie, Anh-Chi, Annie, Annie G.,  Ashlie, Ben, Betsy, Brooke, Brian, C+C, Caitlin, Calandra, Carolyn C., Carolyn M., Carrie, Carrie S., Casey, Chandra, Chelsea, Chicxs Happy Brownies, Claudia, Cierra, Clark, Colleen, Crystal, Dan, Danya, Darcie, Dawnnesha, Dean, Debbie (x2), Denise, Denyse, Donald, Edith, Elena, emily, Erica (2), Erica R.B., Erin, Evan, eve, Freedom, Greg, Hannah, Heather, Heidi, Heidi and Laura, Heidi S., Jake, Janis, Jean, Jena, Jennet, Jennifer C., Jennifer M., Jennifer T., Jessica, Jessica G., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Julia, Julie Anne, K.T., Kari, Karen, Katheryn, Kathi, Katie, Keisha, Kelli, Kristen, Kristen C., Kristen D., Kumar, Laura, Laurel, Laurie, Leah, Lisa, Lisa C., Liz, Lori, Lynn, Lynn D., Makeba, Marc, Maria, Mark, Matthew, Maura, McKenzie, Megan, Melissa, Michael, Michelle, Mikaela, Mike, Milo, Minesh, Miranda, Miriam, Misha, Molly, Natasha, Nathan, Nathan H., Nicole, Norah, Norrie, Paola, Patrick, Priya, Rebecca, Risa, Rise Up for Students, Robin, Ruby, Sarah, Sarah S., Sarita, Sean, SEJE Consulting, Shannon, Shaun, Shawna, Shelby, Skyler, Stephanie, Stephanie O., Stephanie S., Susan, Tana, Tania, Tara, Terri, Tracy, and Vivian. If I missed anyone my apologies and thank you for your support. Support the blog by becoming a Patreon supporter.

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Navigating Consent and Allyship — Disabilities Justice

This week we welcome a guest post by Tracy Timmons-Gray, a white ally, to share more about disabilities justice. 


By Tracy Timmons-Gray

MadalynHarbert-HearOurVoice.jpg

Art by Madalyn Harbert on Amplifer “For the Women’s March in 2017, Amplifier held an open call for artwork and received over 5,000 submissions in just eight days. All of the pieces advocate for the rights of women, immigrants, black and brown and queer communities, people Native to the land, and the Earth itself. Fifty of those works were selected for a touring exhibition called Hear Our Voice.”

At work during an affinity group meeting, I shared a story from back in college where a close friend offered me assistance. We were in our college café, and I was standing by the counter, squinting up at the menu hanging on the far wall. As someone with low vision, menus posted on walls are normally my unreadable enemy. My friend knew this, and while I stood there, she offered to read the menu to me. I replied that I didn’t need assistance that day as I was wearing my (very large, very magnifying) glasses instead of my less powerful but culturally more accepted contacts. She replied, “Oh, I didn’t even notice.”

I stood there kind of stunned. Having a physical disability means that you pretty much are always “noticed.” I turned to her and in that moment, felt a startling feeling of true acceptance. My friend accepted me no matter what shape my body was in, and I appreciated her for offering assistance as a default, even if it was unnecessary in that moment.

That’s a nice story, but it’s also one that can cause confusion. What came up in another meeting that week was another story from someone who attended a conference. They recounted a talk by a disability justice advocate at the event who said, “Don’t assume what people need. Don’t offer assistance without permission.” When my colleague heard my story, and then reflected on what they heard at the conference, they felt unsure of what to think.

I see where that disability justice advocate is coming from. For instance, it’s wrong to go up to a blind person you don’t know and take their arm to assist without asking. Or to start pushing someone’s wheelchair or mobility aid without their permission. (Touching someone’s mobility device is like touching someone’s body. It’s an extension of their body. It’s also important to not touch people’s support animals.)

These dueling messages can lead to confusion, and can cause a mental “freeze,” which can stand in the way of being an ally to others.

To help break down that freeze, here are some general principles on how to navigate around situations where you think you would like to offer assistance, but are not sure how. I welcome other recs as well if people want to share their thoughts.

1- The Bus Principle

You’re on a crowded bus. You have a seat. Someone gets on the bus. They are a person who is A) appearing pregnant B) carrying a small child C) using an assistant device like a cane or walker D) carrying heavy grocery bags E) is an elder F) is otherwise appearing like they could appreciate a seat on this crowded bus.

The ally thing to do? If you are in a place (mentally/physically) where you can offer your seat, the ally thing to do is to offer the seat to them.

What happens next? They may take the seat. They may refuse. They may give you a perplexed look. They may avoid looking at you. They may thank you. They may skirt away from you. Whatever the response is, it’s acceptable to offer your seat to someone else.

Offering assistance in general is similar to this crowded bus scenario. 1) Look for signs that assistance might be welcome. 2) Offer assistance. 3) Accept the response that you get negative or positive.

Second analogy: Looking lost

Sometimes you’ll see someone looking at a map, appearing lost. It’s acceptable to say, “Hi. I’m familiar with the area. Would you like any assistance with finding something?”

If they say yes, it’s okay to offer assistance. If they say, “No, I’m good.” Then feel free to politely say, “Cool” and walk on your way.

Both scenarios, bus and map, are about consent. That’s a crucial part of allyship when it involves helping someone directly. Does the person who you are asking want your help? Sometimes you won’t know that unless you ask.

Even in my college story, my friend asked if I wanted assistance first. (It would have been weirder if she just started rattling off the menu to me unprompted.) She asked for consent to help. I said no to the help, and we went on our way.

How full is your gas can?

One thing that affects your ability to be an ally and to receive allyship from others is the state of your own “internal” self. Or to use the Bill O’Brien quote, “The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervenor.” Another way to think about it is the spoon theory, but that is a theory/practice reserved for the disability community specifically.

If you have a full gas can– meaning your internal self is feeling pretty good and solid:

– you may offer assistance, and someone refuses or even gets pissed off at you, but because of your current state (full gas can) you are able to not take it personally and move on.

– someone offers unnecessary assistance to you, but your internal gas can is full, so you may be able to offer a light response like, “No worries. I’m good,” and not be leaden down by their unprompted offer.

If your gas can is low– you had a bad day, you’re tired, you’re hungry, 15 people that day offered you unprompted unnecessary assistance and you’re feeling frustrated. Then:

– your response might be different to the 16th person offering unprompted assistance. Your response might be angry, or you might walk away without saying anything.

– Or you’re the person on the other side of the action- your offer of assistance to someone is rebuked, and because of your low gas can at that time, you feel even more awful, or feel frustration towards the person you wanted to assist, or feel like you shouldn’t try again in the future.

How we provide and receive allyship can be affected by where we are at that moment. That’s not a bad thing or good thing- it’s just something to try to understand, and because it’s not static, we have to “check-in” on ourselves regularly.

If you’re not up for receiving allyship, that’s cool. If you are feeling unable to provide allyship, that is also a reflection of your current state.

The next step is to just understand why you feel that way, and if your goal is to provide allyship to others, to self-interview about what it would take to help you get there.

 


Along with often riding crowded buses, Tracy Timmons-Gray serves as Associate Director of Community and Programs at the Collective Impact Forum. She identifies as a person with disabilities (low vision), queer, and a passionate but mediocre karaoke singer.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers who help to keep the blog going: Adrienne, Aimie, Ali, Aline, Alissa, Amy, Amy R., Andrea, Angie, Anh-Chi, Annie, Annie G.,  Ashlie, Ben, Betsy, Brooke, Brian, C+C, Caitlin, Calandra, Carolyn C., Carolyn M., Carrie, Carrie S., Casey, Chandra, Chelsea, Chicxs Happy Brownies, Claudia, Cierra, Clark, Colleen, Crystal, Dan, Danya, Darcie, Dawnnesha, Dean, Debbie (x2), Denise, Denyse, Donald, Edith, Elena, emily, Erica (2), Erica R.B., Erin, Evan, eve, Freedom, Greg, Hannah, Heather, Heidi, Heidi and Laura, Heidi S., Jake, Janis, Jean, Jena, Jennet, Jennifer C., Jennifer M., Jennifer T., Jessica, Jessica G., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Julia, Julie Anne, K.T., Kari, Karen, Katheryn, Kathi, Katie, Keisha, Kelli, Kristen, Kristen C., Kristen D., Kumar, Laura, Laurel, Laurie, Leah, Lisa, Lisa C., Liz, Lori, Lynn, Lynn D., Makeba, Marc, Maria, Matthew, Maura, McKenzie, Megan, Melissa, Michael, Michelle, Mikaela, Mike, Milo, Minesh, Miranda, Miriam, Misha, Molly, Natasha, Nathan, Nathan H., Nicole, Norah, Norrie, Paola, Patrick, Priya, Rebecca, Risa, Rise Up for Students, Robin, Ruby, Sarah, Sarah S., Sarita, Sean, SEJE Consulting, Shannon, Shaun, Shawna, Shelby, Stephanie, Stephanie O., Stephanie S., Susan, Tana, Tania, Tara, Terri, Tracy, and Vivian. If I missed anyone my apologies and thank you for your support. Support the blog by becoming a Patreon supporter.

If you subscribe to the blog, thank you. Please check fakequity.com for the most up to date version of the post. We often make grammatical and stylistic corrections after the first publishing which shows up in your inbox. Please subscribe, the sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version).

Gentrification – Even the rats are gentrified out

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Yard sign “Don’t Displace the Southend” by Environmental Justice organization GotGreen. Check them out at gotgreenseattle.org/

Kate Spade and Teslas

I had a moment this morning where I found tangible signs of gentrification. I know my neighborhood is rapidly gentrifying but I wasn’t expecting to physically touch the gentrification. If I have a few minutes and I’m legally parked I’ll stop in my kids’ school to tidy up the lost and found. Today, I hung up a cute pink Kate Spade coat in the lost and found. This is a school with about a 50% free and reduced lunch rate, a high percentage of English Language Learners, and strong Latinx and Asian immigrant communities. When did Kate Spade invade our lost and found? As I was leaving the school a Tesla pulled up to let their white child out. I’m not surprised to see a Tesla, but it made me mourn a little knowing the Tesla and Kate Spade are tangible signs that the neighborhood is rapidly changing.

There are many lists on the internet of how to spot gentrification. Some of the lists are funny, other mournful, and most them have truth laden in them. In the interest of adding to the lists already out there here is another list:

Strollers – strollers that cost more than my brother’s first car are seen at the library storytime.

More stop signs and traffic signals – When my grandma was still alive, she would point out where the first traffic light was on Kauai. That is old-time gentrification, and I see the same in my neighborhood when the stop signs pop up, the no-parking signs are abundant because of construction.

Who’s on the train – Light rail is now filled with white people on phones and earbuds. No one looks up, faces all glued to blue light of the screens.

Bougie ice cream stores – Two high-end ice cream shops are now in the neighborhood where I work. The cost of an ice cream cone cost more than a gallon of gas on a good day.

Kombucha on tap is the new flannel shirt. Breweries are the new version of Asian karaoke bars.

Dogs everywhere. Stores have doggie water dishes and free milk bones.

People take pictures of Black and Brown kids in the neighborhood and post them online without permission versus saying hello or simply acknowledging their presence.

Eating on the sidewalk. CiKeithia said she knew DC gentrified when people started eating on the sidewalk on bistro tables.

PTA events serve alcohol and their auctions raise enough to buy a modest house but not in the neighborhood of the school because it’s already gentrified.

Spice level adjusted – Near my office is a Thai restaurant my team likes. The spice level there was strong, previously a 1 star was like a 5 star. After a Seattle Times review of the restaurant we noticed the 1 star spice was really more like a 1 star at other places, white-ified the spice level. We mourned the spice level change.

The rats are gentrified out of their former living situation. A friend shared ever since a new apartment building went in she hasn’t seen a rat – even the rats were gentrified out.

Gentrification is more than the physical places we create. Gentrification is about refinement and the feeling of comfort. What would it look like if we all practiced a bit of anti-gentrification in the interest of preserving our sense of community? This doesn’t mean we bring the rats back to their former dwellings. What would it feel like if we acknowledged we acted like we are guest rather than in spaces to take them over and colonize them? We need to remember in most Western countries we gentrified Indigenous spaces. As guests in new spaces we don’t barge in and take over, we are polite and respectful, our survival depends on upon being gracious.

The desire to change a space is an act of gentrification. There are times and appropriate places where we need to make improvements to places to make things safer and improve quality of life, but we need to ask who’s benefiting. Changing housing patterns that allow more wealth into neighborhoods means displacement for longtime communities of color. The benefits of gentrification often won’t be felt by communities of color. Being a guest also means you invest and are helpful in building supporting what is already in place. As a guest you don’t go in demanding your host make changes to their house to accommodate you; you try to leave a light footprint and to be helpful to what is already there. The same for us as gentrifiers – invest in the local economy and not insist things change for your benefit. Shop at the local poc owned businesses, buy your coffee from the poc coffeeshops not Starbucks, volunteer at a school with a high concentration of students of color, share what you have, listen to the community that was there before offering your opinion. If you’re not hearing something maybe that is also a clue and don’t assume silence means people don’t care, it could be it isn’t the fight the people before you were willing to focus on. Take some time to learn from the community before you rush in to change things.

Special thanks to my friends who contributed their gentrification ideas to this post. Many of the examples came from them.


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