Wednesday, August 12, 2009

First visit to the Eastside (10 Aug 2009)

So, I started this community organization group called SAITSU. If you don't already know about it, please hit me up on FB to learn more. The purpose of the group is to, in short & simple terms, clean up the Eastside and make it into a respectable, sustainable community.
As a result of this program, I am going to be making trips to the Eastside to survey and speak with residents. I will try to do this at least twice a week...with my schedule, we'll see how it goes.
I have been looking for a house in the Dignowity Hills area of SA. This is the area between downtown SA and the middle-Eastside. I drove over to the area two days ago to look around and was interrupted by a phone call from my mother letting me know that someone had just tried to break into the house. (yeah...they live in the suburbs.) Before I got the call I drove around a bit to survey the area. I was happy to see a street full of new homes that had manicured lawns and clean driveways. They were a bit smaller than I would like, but they were nice nonetheless. This street was named after a prolific African-American civil rights leader Claude W. Black, who was from SA and did great things for our city during the civil rights era and many years after. I was excited to see a street named after him.
Unfortunately, I drove a block east and ran into a totally different environment. Yes, ONE BLOCK over. I saw drug addicts posted up on abandoned businesses, while a woman who I could only imagine was a prostitute walked down the sidewalk. I drove a little further and saw what I think was a hand to hand occur right on one of the main streets (N. Hackberry). I then remembered that there was a cop sitting directly around the corner...guess that didn't bother the dealer very much. I saw all of this within a three block radius!
This corruption and waste of humanity was all existing among abandoned buildings that had been boarded up, tagged up and forgotten. Among garbage ridden yards, sidewalks and any other open place. Among homes that were still being occupied, but looked like they should have been abandoned and demolished years ago. Among several (more than three) abandoned churches that once were the rock of the black community, but were now ghostly sights of the past.
I thought about all the funerals that occurred in those churches, the revivals, the community meetings, the civil rights rallies, the sermons, the weddings and I wondered what all those folks before would think if they walked through their old neighborhood today. If they walked through and saw their own daughters, sons, grandchildren, neices, nephews, etc...walking around with hopelessness in their eyes and a stark grimace for anyone they didn't recognize.
It's a discouraging feeling seeing all of this desperation and despondence. At the same time, the vision of it in my mind is what I needed to know that I am fighting the good fight, whether it is a waste of effort or not...I pray to God that it is not.

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