The Elephant in the Room- Discussing Gentrification

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Photo taken by my Daughter Alexandria on Garrison Avenue here in the South Bronx where I choose to raise my family.

Gentrification: 1. The process of renovating and improving a house or district so that it conforms to middle-class taste.

1.1 The process of making a person or activity more refined or polite.

Does the agenda meet a genuine concern?
If the objective for gentrification was to reform housing, schools, and employment; then why is the first thing they build in our neighborhoods, shopping centers? 
Typically the retort I obtain is  “Well, it creates jobs.”
Naturally, my detective instincts drove me to ask these employees at these new shopping centers, “Do you live locally?” Surprisingly, many of them do not.
The objective then folds, and the reality of it all is that gentrification is influenced by ulterior motives.
In return, these jobs do not pay a high enough wage to satisfy the cost of living; which is high, even in our low income communities. Rising from this employment crisis is the issue of employment requirements.  Did you know many retail, and food service  jobs now require a diploma, or equivalency? All it takes is acquiring a list of High Schools within your community, and observing the statistics for graduation rates, you’ll see the problem staring you in the face. So the next issue arises, education reform.
Have you had the pleasure of discussing education with these gentrification promoters?  The rhetorical jargon you’ll hear is “We are giving you charter schools, aren’t we?” Oh, those good old charter schools, gotta love em! Personally, my life was flipped upside down during the 2015-2016 school year, due to charter school takeovers.
I had the freedom to home school my children for many years, and did so successfully. For my daughter Elissa’s high school years I decided to put her in local high school. Elissa became a student at the former F.L.A.G.S here in the South Bronx. When the new year began I received a notice that her school was being proposed for closure. After tons of research, and speaking with staff, the scales fell off of my eyes. This was like a war going on in my community, and I was sleeping! FLAGS did close ultimately, despite my own attempts, and the attempts of teachers to petition otherwise.
What is the reasoning behind these school closures?
Remember those snarky replies I keep speaking of? Well, be ready for these because they are quite amusing when the pieces come together.
Here is how they do it!
They build these lottery schools, or charters, I am sure you receive mail about how these schools want your child. Instinctively, parents will see all of these amazing choices the school provides, and enroll him/her because they want what is best for them. Don’t be fooled they fish for our teachers too, offering the moon, and stars.
This reaction is what I like to call the game of Jenga! Piece by piece they remove stability, until the system collapses.
You will now have lower enrollment at your local public school; as well as it now being understaffed. I am sure the wheels are turning, and your thinking “lower student to teacher ratio” can’t be that bad, right? Yes, lower student to teacher ratio is excellent; however the board of education has enrollment requirements. Your school is now at a disadvantage according to their standards. The sole purpose or focus on my daughter Elissa’s school closure proposal was lower enrollment. Keep in mind, they succeeded!
There is other problems with lower enrollment. The board can now withhold funding, and cut programs; which in turn will provide a poor data report. Your school will now reflect with lower graduation rates, and less resources. 
Now that the paper report is created, these schools will slowly make their way to closure. Don’t believe me?
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You are looking at a notice from my other daughter Amber’s school. She attends Entrada Academy here in the South Bronx. This notice is enough to frighten parents into transferring, providing lower enrollment. The cycle has now begun, and Entrada is getting “less space” can you guess why? They are proposing a Charter.
Where is the better solution for reform?
With the cost of living on the rise, our schools closing, our children being bounced from school to school, and homelessness on the rise, how is this gentrification considered reform?
The answer is within these paragraphs, they are not reforming us!
So what is gentrification?
Gentrification is an attempt to eradicate whomever doesn’t conform to the lifestyle dictated by leaders. Gentrification is modern day slavery, it is a way to break, and shatter delicate lives. When our pieces lay upon the asphalt, they will sweep us to the side to be taken out like trash.
On a side note, half of the affordable housing being built in my community has income guidelines out of the boundaries for low income families. We can’t apply! Section 8 and NYCHA are not accepting applications either. Just one walk around my neighborhood and you will see almost every building is now a shelter. 
When they call our neighborhoods ghettos look at the definition:
A part of a city, especially a slum area, occupied by a minority group or groups.
An isolated or segregated group or area.
Now I ask you, am I wrong for saying this is modern day slavery?
Until next time
stay blessed,
Josette xo

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