Majora Carter book Reclaiming Your Community: You Don’t Have to Move Out Of Your Neighborhood To Live In a Better One encourages you to rethink investing in your community. Majora’s book challenges the idea that if you move away from your neighborhood, “success” can be attained.
The Bronx, N.Y-based real estate developer, and urban revitalization strategy consultant Majora Carter is responsible for developing several community programs. Technology inclusion policies and job training are available in Hunt’s Point neighborhood.
I grew up in the same neighborhood as Majora and found out years later that she was responsible for the positive changes I saw in Hunt’s Point. She opens her book by describing her childhood in the south Bronx. Majora shares personal moments from her upbringing during the mid-1970s into the 1980s.
At the time, the Bronx wasn’t much to look at; you were surrounded by burned-out buildings and, as Majora put it, where squatters and sometimes drug dealers could be found.
As I read Reclaiming Your Community, I reflected on my childhood on Spofford Ave.
Raised across the street from the notorious Spofford Juvenile Center, it was sad to watch kids get escorted into the detention center in handcuffs. I was often wondering if and when they would be released. Families would line up outside the center and wait their turn to visit. I’d watch the young juveniles play basketball in the yard from my fire escape window during the summer.
While there have been improvements in the Bronx since my time as a kid, it still remains to be the poorest congressional district in the nation.
Brain Drain & Low-Status Communities
Majora does an excellent job of encouraging you to look at your surroundings differently.
Besides the joy of reading a book that I could relate to, I enjoyed Majora’s description of terms like “brain drain” and “low-status communities”. Majora learned these terms from Danah Boyd, a researcher and the founder of Data & Society Research Institute, during a panel at the “Fast Company” event in April 2015. “Brain drain” is explained as training kids with the most talent and intellect to move out of their neighborhood – believing their personal success would be determined by it.
Words Have Meaning
The Majora Carter book, Reclaiming Your Community: You Don’t Have to Move Out Of Your Neighborhood To Live In a Better One, defines low-status communities as:
The places where it is widely agreed that the schools are worse, the air is more polluted the parks are few and less well maintained. The health statistics are not good. And the elected officials and nonprofit industrial complex readily acknowledge that these disparities exist but seem unable to address them with any effectiveness.
In short, low-status communities are filled with health clinics, fast-food chain restaurants, check-cashing places, community centers, and pawn shops.
After analyzing surveys and focus groups, Majora discovered that residents in low-status communities want the same amenities as those in affluent areas. To feel safe, have accessibility to bars, restaurants, parks, and housing that matches your income. Not the pharmacies, community centers, and homeless shelters put in place to help or revive the community.
To improve “low-status” communities, you must stop running out of them. Change your mindset and create the tools and resources needed in your communities. Majora has faced many challenges to revive her community. Majora’s attempt to improve the neighborhood triggered a community protest at the opening of The Boogie Down Grind Cafe.
She was called a sell-out and everything else but a child of God and didn’t let go of her dream.
Hey! How about we talk? Human to human. I feel that you and your friends misunderstand who I am and what I do. You can talk to me instead of about me. I’m right here.
Change can be scary, but with open communication channels and understanding your surroundings, fear doesn’t stand a chance.
Majora Carter Isn’t The Only Example
The blueprint this generation should follow when investing back into your communities are:
- Queens, N.Y rapper, and icon Jay-Z
- Los Angeles- based rapper and entrepreneur Nipsey Hussle
- Memphis, Tenn-based rapper and investor Young Dolph
These individuals have empowered communities to do more, hopefully breaking free from generational curses. The lesson is to learn to work together. At least, I hope to see black and brown communities finally unify for the greater good of the future. You have to remember that everything done today affects the generation following behind.
Where we come from shapes who we are. You don’t have to move out of your community for a better life. Take a stand and make the changes you want to see. Is the work easy? No, but who will if you don’t try to create successful black and brown communities?
Feel empowered to read Majora Carter book Reclaiming Your Community: You Don’t Have to Move Out Of Your Neighborhood To Live In a Better One. If you’re unsure how to start the conversation with friends and family, don’t worry. Majora leaves you with discussion questions at the end of the book. This is just the start of a much larger conversation.
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