Tag Archives: class

Public Transportation is a Must, But Not a Solution to Racism

6 Sep

Reading All Aboard? by Ben Campbell brought up conflicting emotions for me.

I felt excited about a public transportation system that might be effective, affordable, and improve the lives of so many low income people in Richmond. I was also excited by Campbell’s accurate, historical look at the loss of good public transit in Richmond, and how he identified racism and bigotry as the reasons why we ended up with the terrible transit we currently eke by with,

So, to get a few things straight before I go into a slight critique-

1- I am for a larger, better thought out, more affordable, multi-jurisdictional public transit system for the Metro Richmond Area.

2- I am against racism, segregation, and policies, institutions and practices that reinforce racism.

The part of Campbell’s article that I think deserves challenging and a more in depth discussion, is the seeming underlying assumption that developing a better public transit system would be anti-racist, and a step towards changing Richmond’s long, dirty legacy of racism. Racism is complex. Racism is not a flag we can change out front of City Hall and move on. Racism is an issue that all Richmonders will have to do a lot of work around for us to take steps forward as a city.
The loss of public transit in Richmond was a symptom of the underlying disease of racism.

Treating the symptom is not enough to solve our problems.
There are some really great things about a better, less segregationist public transit system- the possibility for people to interact more outside of their race, better opportunities for jobs and recreational activities for low income people of color, and more.

But without a more holistic approach to the issue of racism in our city and society, we won’t be “solving” racism. One complicating factor I can think of is simply that a change in our City’s ranking, without a change in real estate practices, might just exacerbate issues of gentrification. As Richmond grows in popularity, low income people, many of whom are People of Color, are forced out of their homes and neighborhoods in response in increasing real estate values. Gentrification represents a systematic problem, out of any individual’s hands to stop. But until this process, poverty, and racism are actively being addressed, I don’t want to see Richmond’s ranking go up.

An improved public transit system would be a marked difference in City policy and programming. Many of the urban renewal projects over the years have been pretty clearly directed towards improving the desireability of Richmond to people who might visit or might one day move here. Consider the tourist aspects of many of the recent projects and events. First Fridays which attracts many people from surrounding counties, and has difficulty when low income youth of color from surrounding neighborhoods in the city start attending in mass. The Canal Walk, where I’ve only ever gone with my grandma (love you grandma). The Convention Center. The upcoming 2015 cycling event. Richmond’s urban planning efforts have been fairly pitiful, and seem to reflect the racism and classism of the City government.

Richmond does need to focus more on keeping current residents, helping current residents, and developing ways to make our daily lives better. Jobs, housing, access to healthy food, and transportation are some really great places to start.

Some questions Richmonders should be asking themselves in the mean time are:

What are we doing to make Richmond a better place for the people who are currently living here?
How can we make sure we take care of the current residents before visitors or potential new residents?
What do low income people want and need?
What do people of color want and need?
How can we listen to low income people and people of color more?

If Richmond really does want to shed our racist reputation we’ve got some work to do. Let’s get a better public transit system, but make sure we don’t lose sight of the whole disease of racism while we ride around on some buses.

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Monroe Park Advisory Council- Sittin’ Pretty, Pretty Classist…

3 Jan
The Monroe Park Advisory Council is the organization which created the plan for the renovations of Monroe Park. They are also very unrepresentative of the people who use the park. They also fail to represent the diversity of Richmond- or come at all close. I have found one concrete way to show how different the lives of many of the MPAC members are from other people in the City. Doing some background research I discovered the following which goes at least a little ways towards pointing towards the obvious class prejudice present in the Monroe Park Advisory Council. I did property searches on the City of Richmond website to see who owned property and how much it was worth. There is of course the possibility that I have the totally wrong individuals, although I have done my best to research honestly. The people I was not sure about are listed at the bottom. 

For full disclosure and to save the haters some time, here is the same information on myself:

The Wingnut has a total real estate value of 127,000. Worth a lot more to me though! (And owning ANY property at all, regardless of its value still denotes a good amount of privilege)

Owner: KARN MORIAH MARGARET

Mailing Address: 2005 BARTON AVE, RICHMOND, VA 23222

The Esteemed Councilman coming in at a relatively modest 264,000 value on his property:
Owner: SAMUELS CHARLES R & KRISTA M

Mailing Address: 203 N MULBERRY ST, RICHMOND, VA 23220

And now for the MPAC members:

Next Time Alice Massie tries to pull the poor teacher card….her house is assessed at over 1.1 million dollars. Those Monument Avenue addresses sure are pricey- but you’d have to pay me to live that close to statues of dead confederate assholes:

Owner: MASSIE WILLIAM MCKINNON JR AND ALICE MCGUIRE MASSIE

Mailing Address: 1643 MONUMENT AVE, RICHMOND, VA 2322000000
Continue reading

Keep Monroe Open- Video and Petition

12 Oct

Food Not Bombs Statement Regarding Monroe Park

10 Oct

Richmond Food Not Bombs has been sharing food in Monroe Park for over sixteen years now. We have developed many connections and friendships over the course of our existence, helped provide healthy food to many individuals who may not have had access to it otherwise, and become a staple of social activity for many people’s Sunday afternoons.

The proposed renovations to Monroe Park are an attack , a judgement on who the park should and shouldn’t be for. It is an attack on the homeless, the “homeless-appearing” (whatever that means – it’s in the Monroe Park Advisory Council’s renovation plans), and groups and individuals who don’t judge people by their social status or whether they have conventional means of acquiring shelter.

We will not stand for it.

The only change that the park really needs is for the city to do its job when it comes do doing maintenance on the bathrooms, as they are functional but one of the water pipes to the sinks has corroded away. Other improvements, such as installing permanent chess tables, or a playground area for kids would be nice, but NOT at the cost of driving out the folks who currently congregate in the park, shutting the entire park down for 18 months, or privatizing the security of the park. Continue reading

Class Privilege

24 Sep

My parents just bought me a brand new bike for my birthday. Riding it home I came up with the start of a song on class privilege.

I’m not gonn a lie,
my parents bought me everything
you see class privilege,
well it is a real thing

I’ve got a ford truck,
it was given to me
I’ve got a new bike,
its that trickle down theory

lets talk about privilege
without that immobilizing guilt please
how privilege affects us
we’ve gotta speak truthfully Continue reading