the current - june 23, 2017
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ULTIMATE & GENTRIFICATION
This is the third part in a four-part series about the connection between gentrification and ultimate that stemmed from a conversation in Seattle, WA.
Part 3: Grappling with Gentrification
Series overview: As ultimate players, we strive to build a community that is inclusive, supportive, and just. This means we have to look directly at how racism and white privilege harm people of color and benefit white people. In Seattle, a group of white ultimate players hosted an event to hear the stories of people of color, learn how gentrification and segregation impact our access to ultimate, and commit to supporting groups that challenge racism and empower youth of color. We invite you to explore this with us! This is part three of a four part series, click here to read the other parts.
What does it feel like to be white in a historically-black neighborhood? Jen Schneeweis, a homeowner in Seattle’s Central District, grapples with how she can positively impact her community while being seen as part of the problem. An established ultimate player and mom of two rising frisbee stars, she reminds us why it’s so important to look at how white privilege impacts ultimate.
Jen Schneeweis is an ultimate player, recently playing with the Seattle Women's Masters and Grandmaster's teams. She moved to Seattle in 1991 to go to art school and has lived here ever since. She lives in the Central District with her husband Jude and their two kids, Isaiah and Mira.
Hearing Jen’s story was powerful. As a woman with white privilege, it led me to consider what impact I have based on where I live and what I can do about it. Her story also brought up another thought, that gentrification is also an issue of sexism. Women account of only 17 percent of home buyers, and women of color account for far less. Black, Latina, and Native women in King County and across the nation are also the most likely to be living below the poverty line. (source)
Gentrification is commonly understood to mean the displacement of lower income people, predominantly people of color, by wealthy affluent white people, who buy property and local businesses and in turn make more profit. The result is that those displaced people have to move further and further away from their homes, community, and resources.
It’s easy to feel guilt or blame as a white person living in a historically-black neighborhood, accused with being a ‘gentrifier.’ But those emotions don’t offer us ways process or make progress. Instead, it’s helpful to take on curiosity and humility, like Jen did. This doesn’t mean that we can sit idly by and just think about it; we have to consider how we take action to challenge an exploitative system of gentrification. This is an important step towards engaging others as well.
Caitlin Cordell, another event organizer, led us through an exercise to reflect on how gentrification and segregation impact all of us.
Stop & think: Take a minute, grab a piece of paper or (open a new doc), and brainstorm on this question: How have I contributed to or been affected by gentrification in my neighborhood? What do you need to learn more about in order to take realistic action for racial justice in your community?
(Actually write it down, get creative, push yourself!)
Caitlin shared this example for herself: “Even though I was born in Seattle, my whiteness and affluence has allowed me to rent in homes and apartments all over the city. Landlords feel “safe” around me because of my race and how I present myself. So my solution here could be that I can be conscious of where I choose to rent and could look to do group housing with lower income people and people of color, using my class and whiteness to help solidify housing that benefits more than just me.”
Stop & think: How does gentrification enable more affluent white people to play ultimate and prevent people of color from doing so? Consider the impact on a family from being priced out of their home, moving to a new school district, and losing a sense of community.
Written by Natalie Jamerson with Caitlin Cordell, Clay Dewey-Valentine, Erica Petru, Katy Craley, Lindsey Wilson, Margo Kelly, Molly Sinnott, Noah Baker, and Sam Terry. If you want to share your questions, thoughts, or suggestions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are releasing a great new health blog, that includes some resources from Performance Colorado. Check out their blog!
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