they are gentrifying my neighborhood in silence

alexis

I live in Vickery Meadow, a Dallas neighborhood of survivors.

people taking the bus at first light to get to a job downtown. the clockwork 506 to Park Lane that you may or may not have to pay for depending on who’s driving. day workers in parking lots, homeless men behind buildings, working girls with their heads held high because there’s nothing in this neighborhood to be ashamed of.

it is piss and stench and open fields of flowers, cleaner the further away you move from the sidewalk. two stickers peel like fading tattoos, ‘dystopia’ in script on a black and white lion is de facto gatekeeper. the police cars in your rearview and sideview and in front of you wait for sudden movement. men do the same, catcall and love the thrill of chase just the same. my neighborhood is full of women who don’t answer to sirens.

afternoon stampedes of pre-teens and teens from the schools built like anchors, laughing and swearing and getting into no trouble at all. tejano and hip hop fills the block at night and party together with our families. grandmother to grandchild in a two-bedroom apartment with only one adult on the lease because that’s all you need.

they are gentrifying my neighborhood in silence.

leasing companies buy aging properties and rebrand them with higher rental rates. strip malls fenced for being too ‘crime-ridden’. [read: commercial properties torn down because they are afraid, in the day time, of black folks sitting in front of property like it’s their own. like they live there. like they’re comfortable with the shadows.] the principal characters pulled out of your dime store mystery paperback – councilwoman with connections to real estate developers, businessman with ill-formed and racist ideals of crime, a police department/security firm lining their pockets – all with an imagined idea of my neighborhood.

now, they do unwarranted document searches to make room for the people who will never call it home. just temporary, building block, cracking foundation, side street shortcut to where they really want to go. happy hour at Applebee’s. bike trail at White Rock Lake. Top Golf business lunches. two blocks from the local weed man’s third lease. four blocks from the small businesses, community initiatives and gardens where residents grow native survival herbs to cook for dinner.

with the impending loom of progression, with the outsiders branding Vickery Meadow unsafe to live in but profitable to exploit. when we didn’t ask for an upgrade or a Starbucks or a goddamn R.E.I., never needed one. only needed each other and a bus pass and a familiar street. always had everything we needed within walking distance.

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Princess McDowell is a poet, writer and journalist from Dallas, Texas. She's released a CD of poetry entitled Not A Storybook <3 and a chapbook named faith move muscle. She's currently writing her first fiction novel. She can be reached at princess.mcdowell@gmail.com

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