"So, I have really mixed feelings about the Passport move. What kind of community is so deprived that we're waiting on Wal-Mart? What has happened, systematically, with policy makers, legislators, business people, private and public sector that has left us so devastated that we're literally waiting on Wal-Mart like we're waiting on Superman. When that doesn't work out, we're devastated, as a community. There was the veterans hospital that could have been on this site, that would have brought hotels, commerce, and additional industry. There was the Yum Center that could have been built west of 9th St., along Main St. That could have brought jobs and industries and wouldn't have created congestion in the current existing urban area. There was the convention center that the mayor is re-doing, that could have been torn down and a green space created, with the convention center being built west of 9th St., that could have created jobs, industries, and commerce. This doesn't make me happy. I have mixed thoughts about Passport's placement. When doing this work on the inside, I often try to penetrate this space.
The one thing that makes me happy about this site is that we have Sweet Peaches. The owner, Pam, will have her catering inside of here. It's a small win. I'm not going to penetrate the deepness that is necessary for the West End, but it's potential. I hate to see this space vacant but I think that the policy makers and the people spitting assistance to the people of this community should be held accountable. With the historical deprivation of the whole entire community, they should be held accountable for that, as well.
I'm waiting for more to happen than something that is small and minute as the opening of Passport. We should really be celebrating massive industry and movement coming into the community and not in a way that gentrifies the community and moves African Americans out but in a way that collectively goes in line with the community values. You go to Harlem, you see the Apollo studio, you see Magic Johnson's theater. So, there's ways to bring in commerce and not in a way that gentrify and disperse people. We have to pay attention to that. We have to pay attention to the Russell transformation and Beecher Terrace coming down. Those private businesses are already chomping at the bit to get that land and transform it just like they transformed Clarksdale into NuLu.
We need young folks that aren't sitting back and waiting on Superman and waiting on Wal-Mart. We need them to be independent entrepreneurs, that are building their websites and blogs, strategizing, establishing relationships and collaborating. How do we get folks that are strategizing and doing real heavy work in the community to get in contact with potential funding sources and stakeholders that can help bolster their work, instead of waiting on other folks from other communities to make decisions and to build our community up.
My advice to the world is to undo racism and white supremacy. Pay reparations to the folks who have been harmed for a thousand years and create equity and equality among black and brown people and watch the world get better." - Shelton, California