Saturday, October 02, 2004

Uppity Negroes

I went with friends to a craft fair near where I live. They stopped by my place this morning and we all head out. The fair is located in this large parking lot in front of the metro stop. The parking will soon becomes a large building with luxury apartments: the whole neighborhood is changing. Gentrification at a rapid pace. The boarded house at the end of my street has recently been cleaned up. One day there were people inside, wearing space suits and taking out bags and bags of junk. They have been working on it for two weeks now. Maybe in a year, it will look like a house again. There is still one abandoned house on my block. The neighbor tells me he sees lots of rats there. The city does not do much. Sometime gentrification is still not fast enough...
Gentrification is also why my friends are here today. The craft fair made it to the local newspaper, in the "must do" list, so they figured it would be worth the trip. Not quite. There are a couple of nice stands (pottery mostly) but the majority gives the flavor of a bad garage sale. Old cloths, used kitchen stuff, cheap jewels... We agree that the paper recommended this craft fair because the editorial board is consumed by the fear of appearing too white. They are afraid of calling junk "junk" when it is being sold in a upcoming neighborhood. They were paralyzed by their fear of appearing condescending.
A woman sells T-shirts with "Uppity Negroes" written on the front. I didn't know what it meant, having never heard the words before. I thought about "up" and "pity". Not quite. My friends explain the slogan for me. I almost got one T-shirt.


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