2008-05-22

Where Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Meet




Yesterday as I was running errands, I had to take a trip to the gentrified area of Fair Park. Fair Park is an area of Dallas known for where the State Fair of Texas takes place. It has taken place there since 1936, and is a Siditty family tradition, we took road trips to Dallas when I was a wee tot to attend this event. Actually it is because my father had to do exhibitions (remember Siditty's daddy is in agriculture), but I will make this about me and say it was because I wanted to ride the ferris wheel that my parents did this.

Fair Park itself is known for it's classic Art Deco architecture, the Hall of State, the Cotton Bowl, the Women's Museum, Arboretum, Aquarium, Natural History Museum, and for the nation's largest Ferris Wheel. It's also known for the Red River Shootout between UT and the lame ass OU. Also for the "Al Lipscomb Classic", the awesome game between Prairie View and Grambling.

Then there is the surrounding area of Fair Park. It is known for it's let's say, being very "colorful". As a person who lives in the suburbs, I am pretty sheltered from hard, gritty life. I see homeless people on the corners of major intersections off highways every once in a while, but never do I ever see really hard living. The only times I really saw hard living was when my father drove me through some rough areas of town to convince me why I needed to go to college and not drop out of high school. His lesson was if you don't get good grades, you will end up on a street corner drinking malt liquor. I believed that lesson. I saw his lesson loud and clear in Fair Park yesterday.

I had the dubious honor of driving in the area of Malcolm X Blvd. and Martin Luther King Blvd. after taking a wrong turn to my destination, a nice gentrified office building. Neither Malcolm X or Martin Luther King would be thrilled. I saw grown ass men sitting on porch steps and standing on street corners. I saw "night clubs" with people walking out of them during the day. I saw women of all ages from their teens to 40s wearing outfits only deemed suitable for a music video or prostitution. I actually saw a prostitute or what appeared to be a prostitute get dropped off in front of a church while picking the wedgie out of her ass for wearing extremely tight, what appeared to be lycra, boy cut shorts that I think were more for use as underwear than actual shorts. Malt Liquor flowed from the street corners. People with shopping carts full of their life possessions and folks living under highway overpasses. Per my father, these people did not go to college or get good grades. There was a lot of as my husband calls it "activity", too many people hanging around. It made me sad because every single face was black, and this was the stereotype, this is what people hold to be true as the norm for African Americans.

I see this as the fringe of society. I see this as a case of classism. I know there are millions upon millions of middle class blacks. Those with jobs, those who don't drink malt liquor, those who just live like everyone else. As with those just living life in every other race those, we sometimes forget about those who don't live like us. Those whose lives day to day are to sit or stand on a corner with 4 or 5 of their cohorts. Women who feel the need to get prettied up by wearing too much make up and not wearing enough clothes to walk up and down the street. This is an issue of poverty. The vicious cycle that is ongoing and perpetuates the mentality of not wanting something different. Accepting the life they have as the norm, and not the exception. That the only way of life is just to exist, nothing more. It is a downward spiral of hopelessness.

The biggest fear I have is the gentrification that is slowly encroaching upon these neighborhoods, where will these people go when they can't afford to hang out on the street corner, or under the bridge? What will happen when the affluent neighbors in their expensive lofts desire a increased police presence in "their neighborhoods"? What happens when the classes clash?