The city of Austin, Texas was once home to a rich and thriving culture of African Americans who brought a special vibrancy and feel to the city. Sadly, however, that history is slowly but surely being replaced by progressive white liberalism with its Whole Foods restaurants, vegan cafes and soaring housing prices. It’s called “gentrification” and it’s turning a city that was once rich with black culture and tradition into just another liberal cosmopolitan wasteland.
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The East Austin area was a bustling and thriving home for black Americans with delicious restaurants, beautiful churches, and other businesses that were run by blacks and catered to and supported the community.
As the cost of living in Texas’ cities continues to climb, gentrification is reshaping neighborhoods across the state. These changes might be starkest in East Austin, where small midcentury homes are giving way to $700,000 duplexes. A Whole Foods will soon open not far from Chalmers Court, one of the nation’s oldest public housing projects. In one pocket of East Austin, a University of Texas report found last year, there are now more dogs than children. The owner of Sam’s BBQ, a longtime gathering place for the East Austin’s dwindling African American community, recently turned down a $5 million buyout.
What I fear most is that one day my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will never know that a thriving Black community ever existed in East Austin.
When I moved here in 1957 with my husband, Exalton, so he could pursue his doctoral degree, East Austin north of Sixth Street was a complete community for Austin’s Blacks. The crime written about and feared by so many never really existed, because we all knew each other and had too strong a sense of community and pride in what we had created. We had everything we needed to support ourselves—stores, banks, churches, and a college older than the University of Texas—all run by and for the benefit of Austin’s Black community. [Texas Observer]
A bag of $6 dollar kale chips and $12 dollar smoothies weren’t brought in to add to the flavor of the black community – no – those types of over-priced “stylish” junk is only there to cater to the snobby white progressives who have taken over. They have no respect for the culture or people who built and sustained East Austin; instead, they only seek to replace what they built with things like over-priced coffee joints, sustainable restaurants and day spas that no middle class American can ever afford.
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Eleventh Street was our downtown. It was full of businesses we cared about, and we all knew the proprietors of each one. Churches, beauty salons, and barbershops were scattered across East Austin and served as gathering places. Our neighborhoods had comfortable single-family homes, green lawns, libraries, parks with pools, sidewalks, and beautiful trees. The full socioeconomic spectrum was represented with no conflict between them. East Austin still has these qualities, which surprises some people. [Texas Observer]
Black residents who have lived in East Austin for generations can no longer afford to live in the area they built up. Housing prices are soaring, taxes have gone way up, and small local stores are replaced with “Whole Foods,” and “Starbucks.” These progressive white liberals are literally erasing their culture without even batting an eye.
It’s sad and wrong.
A longtime resident down the street recently passed away, and his children didn’t want to move into the house, so they sold it—for $357,000. That is simply unbelievable. When I moved here you could have bought all of East Austin for that amount of money. Black families who grew up here, with kids who are now comfortably middle-class, have to move out of East Austin to afford a home and schools they can enjoy. It’s happening in my own family. Only one of my three daughters feels she can afford to live here. The others moved to Pflugerville and North Austin.
It is sad to me that when African Americans arrive today they have a hard time finding Austin’s Black community and culture. An executive who transferred here from out of state had to follow a Black family home from Sears just to find the barbershops and Baptist churches that serve the community. Another woman who recently moved to Austin asked me, “Where are we?” [Texas Observer]
Just like when immigrants move to this country, we expect them to respect and assimilate to our culture – not erase who we are and replace it with their beliefs and culture. Well, smug cosmopolitan liberals should treat the thriving black culture with the same respect.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather go to a locally-owned restaurant and eat good homemade at a decent price than eat a $15 dollar soy and hemp salad at the new Vegan cafe.
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