Special Post: Gentrification

When I was 11 years old, I remember I had to move for the first time. I didn’t understand why at the time really. All I thought about at the time was new location, new memories. 6 years earlier, year 2000, me and my family went to Universal Studios. I thought that would of been my whole time spent as we arrived in ’06. Boy, was I wrong! I thought every summer or 2, we would head back up to a place I have spent my childhood. Wrong again!

We went to a part of Florida I wasn’t familiar with. Deland. My father drove into this neighborhood where I would start the beginning of my adolescence. We went into the corner store and the register had a bulletproof glass in front of it. A person actually came into this store with his shirt off, filled with tattoos. It looked like we passed an elementary school and the crossing guard was laying in the street, surrounded by ambulances. For as long as I have been in NY, I never came across anything like this. How could people live in these conditions and survive? This statement is coming from someone who cried when a SUV ran over his first basketball. To this day, I still don’t like those vehicles. I didn’t know I was considered middle class before this.

We lived in a section of Deland, FL called Candlelight Oaks. The only thing peaceful about it is the name. Cars with oversized rims and cartoonish paint jobs rattled Southern Rap music up and down the street where I stayed at. Due to the way that I talked, walked, dressed and acted….might as well be a penguin in a desert. There were drug dealers present on the courts I learned how to play basketball. The house I lived in rested steady on a downward slope. On the top of my block, someone got killed in a drive by. On the bottom of my block was the best example of a traphouse I’ve ever seen. During my final year in Florida, there was a huge police raid on this house. It was peaceful in my neighborhood for the first time in the 4 years I’ve lived there.

Maybe it was due to being a teenager, but I went through depression my freshman year in high school. All I ever thought about was not being here anymore. The two things that kept me sane at the time was basketball and my baby sister. I would say hip-hop also but when you are black in America, you are bound to relate, come hell or high water When you are born in an environment like this, you have to do something to keep yourself of the streets. Basketball became an outlet. Couldn’t afford the latest pair of Jordans. Wouldn’t of did anything for my game. I remember I couldn’t make a layup if my life depended on it. I remained consistent throughout the trails. Was even confident cocky enough to try out for JV my sophomore year. I failed miserably…I still practiced nontheless but wasn’t much of a threat until I left Florida to come back to Brooklyn.

Starting to rant here…let’s focus on the topic at hand. I didn’t love that me and my family had to leave Brooklyn to go to Florida due to gentrification. I had experienced circumstances in the south when it came to love, hardship and blatant rasicm I never would have experienced otherwise. But was it at the cost of my overall development? My father’s health? My family safety? Better Brooklyn Overall: 100 percent. Wish they didn’t have to get rid of the originators to do so.

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