Dear Sisters and Brothers,
I’m back! After 28 months on a mountain top in the West Virginia mountains at USP Hazelton, I’m at home again! Or at least I’m back in Boston and close to being home again. At the moment, I’m living in a halfway house in Boston but expect to be at home by the middle to end of August.
Thanks to Sadiki Kambon and the board of the Black Community Information Center, I have an office in the Imani House, 516 Warren Street. I’m there from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday familiarizing myself with what has happened during the two years I’ve been gone and deciding how to resume organizing.
I am somewhat startled by the fact that while I have only been gone for two years, the process of physical change seems to be on fast forward. In Dudley Square and Jackson Square, new development appears to be moving forward at hyper speed.
On the one hand many seem pleased that after years of struggle, physical change is taking place. At the same time, I hear a continuous concern voiced about how this change will effect our present population.
The question I continually hear is “who will benefit from the change?” This question focuses on whether the cost of the apartments being built in Jackson Square and elsewhere, as well as the newcomers brought to Greater Roxbury through the housing and city jobs at Ferdinand’s will economically drive out our lower income neighbors and change the population of our community over the next five, ten, fifteen years.
Having seen how urban renewal effected the South End population as well as black communities across the country, this concern can not be dismissed. We also can’t ignore the fact that Richard Taylor, a black developer, and others are advocating that the micro mini apartments (350 to 450 square feet) now renting for $2000 a month and up in the Seaport District be brought to Roxbury.
However, our history teaches us that through organizing we have historically been able to develop the strength to overcome the obstacles that have faced us. Now is the time to come together once again and commit ourselves as an economically diverse, predominantly black and Latino community to fight for policies that enable us to remain as an economically diverse, predominantly black and Latino community.
We can not allow political and economic interests to divide us and weaken our ability to stand as a united community. There has been a long, hard struggle in Boston to build an economically diverse, predominantly black and Latino community to hold this valuable land. It’s our responsibility to continue that struggle.
With a new mayor about to be elected, we have an excellent opportunity to build the political strength to offset the economic forces of gentrification. We should not give our support individually or collectively to any candidate who does not publicly commit to developing policies that maintain balance between low, moderate, and upper income housing not only in Greater Roxbury but also across Boston.
We should not give support to any candidate who does not agree to publicly join the leadership at the Boston Housing Authority in fighting the cuts in the Section 8 program being pushed on us by our federal housing officials. We need a mayor who will stand with us and the people of the city to fight the forces of gentrification and economic injustice. We can’t let the one percent and their allies use their economic and political power to drive us out.
We have demonstrated time after time during the last fifty years that we have the power not only to protect the quality of our lives but also to improve it when we stand together and don’t let economic, political, or social forces divide us. It is time once again to show our commitment to fight for justice. It’s time to unite behind the Kwanzaa principles of Umoja (Unity) and Kugichagulia (Self Determination).
The struggle for justice must continue,