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By: Roy Douglas Malonson, Publisher of African-American News & Issues & Author of column series We MUST Understand

African-American civil rights leader, Roger Wilkins once exclaimed that, “in the days of segregation when Blacks were limited to certain neighborhoods, you could look around the Black community and identify who the leaders were.” I concur with him and remember those days just as it were yesterday. During that time, we Africans living in America knew who the teachers, preachers, doctors and leaders were, because they lived right next door to us – or right around the corner. They were not just members from our community they were a part of it. Back then, there was no other choice but to support your own because segregation fixed it that way. Segregation made it so, that we had no other option but to lean and depend on one another and things were much simpler then.

However, here we are in 2017 and it appears that days of this sort are long gone. When many of us return to the places that we were born and raised in, there is a different culture residing there. As it is, Mexicans are moving in and the Negroes are moving out. Mexicans have come in like a mighty wind and are either renting or have purchased the properties there. They are residing in communities that once belonged to African-Americans, who took them for granted. I can’t really say that I blame them because the ultimate fault rests in those of us who have and are freely giving up our historical neighborhoods.

To those that don’t believe me, just go back to where you come from and see who lives where you used to live or look at where your neighbors once lived. I’m almost certain majority of those properties are occupied by Mexicans. Many of the predominately Black neighborhoods have slowly transformed into communities inhabited by Mexicans, just like the schools. Whereas, we have chosen to leave our landmarks, other cultures and races have taken them by storm and are making them apart of their heritage now.

For over thirty years I have been trying to convey a message to members of the African-American community. Part of the reason I do this is because I have embraced who I am and where I come from. Therefore, I take pride of being the Publisher of a publication that seeks to address and highlight current and historical realities affecting our communities. I have a major problem with what I have been seeing going on around me. There are too many members of our communities who have neglected and thrown away their heritage, at an attempt to accommodate or try to be amongst the majority. This is a grave mistake and it has serious consequences on not only us, but the future generations that are to come.

There is an old saying that suggests, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” We MUST Understand that things that we throw away and find no value or use in; somebody else can look at what it possesses and capitalize off of the very virtues that we discarded. That is part of what has been happening throughout our neighborhoods and communities. When our ancestors first came to this country, they were brought in as slaves. They had no land, ownership, materialistic possessions, clothes or anything else. Hell, they didn’t have a right to keep their native names. I am stating all of that to inform that where we Africans living in America are at this point in history did not come without cost. Our forefathers and progenitors paid the ultimate price to secure the many freedoms that we currently enjoy. And it just appears that these modern African-Americans could care less.

Aside from the Mexicans taking over our communities, we are seeing gentrification at its best in several historically Black communities around the city. It seems as though there is nothing that can be done about it because too many of us are single handedly giving our communities away. For those who are not aware of what gentrification is… I will enlighten you… By definition, gentrification is a process of renovation of deteriorated urban neighborhoods by means of the influx of more affluent residents. In most cases, once this occurs in our neighborhoods, Black folks leave and are no longer able to return – simply because they cannot afford to live in the area anymore. One of the best examples of this is located right in what many of us knew as Fourth Ward. Fourth Ward is now known as Mid-town which is encompassed with high-class condos, townhomes and apartment complexes that rent for some people’s monthly salary. While this is just one area of town I have chosen to highlight the same thing is being duplicated around the city, state and country as a whole.

Concluding I would just like to echo the words of Benjamin Todd Jealous. He said, “The Black community has been the foundation of the progressive community in this country for a long time.” I can state that his thought was true once upon a time. But the sad reality is that our Black communities are becoming extinct and we only have ourselves to blame for it.