Matailong Du

We all know the name and probably some of the long ongoing saga of Barry Farms and many other “Black designated,” neighborhoods, projects and buildings. Some call them, blights, ghettoes or “urban” zip codes. This is a an “unofficial” crypto-name, allegedly used by the marketing, banking and corporate world to quietly without description or designation identify, ethnic, low-income, non-insurable entities and neighborhoods.

Black designated areas have historically been seen as “bad” and undesirable. Never mind that the initial acquisition or gift of such land, buildings and places were gifted out of political pressure, benevolent philanthropy by some moralistic non-colored folks, who were abolitionist and post slavery politicians seeking votes and truly, a more sincere humane façade in the community. Aside from Barry Farms, Howard University is one of these sites. Initially, it was a stable, watering hole and supply facility for the Union Army during the Civil War. Today, it is a federally university with a great history.

Barry Farms and other places established and institutionalized have one thing in common, which makes me scream whenever the topic comes to mind. They are a roof with with no collateral, supplies or inventory. Human beings who happened to be ethnically stratified—legally and financially hog-tied—where magically expected to become wealthy and happy. For those who say they don’t understand, or that ‘those people are about nothing and just want hand-outs’, you need to think again. Getting opportunity, training and collateral to own and start a business and build embracing supportive and self -helpful communities takes more than the land itself and bare minimum food stamps.

The needs, wants and desires for a more stable community is verbalized and visualized during every election cycle. The attention, the words, the get-out-the-vote dollars spread around, feel good, seem good and a little hope is better than none at all for some.

This time words are not enough. The residents of Barry Farms deserve honesty, planning and follow-through for any change or maintenance of their community.

There is no more Jim Crow or give me your vote because I’m the Head-whatever,. There is just the greed, avariciousness and selfishness of a few. Don’t let them win. Enhance, improve and build a community that encompasses everyone; rather than the elimination, destruction and supplanting of others just for money.
Remember, Housing First is the backbone of building a community.