Blacks may only make up 13 percent of the U.S. population but they remain the majority of those affected by ongoing gentrification efforts in America.
At least that’s the premise behind a recently-released documentary, “Gentrified — Ethnic Cleansing: American Style,” that premieres in the District on Saturday, Feb. 18 during an invitation-only event at THEARC in Southeast.
The film’s narrator and executive producer, Jason Black, points to numerous examples throughout the U.S., including urban hot spots like D.C., Chicago, Atlanta and Houston, where city planners, developers and elected officials have collectively aimed their sights on remaking these and other cities into places that welcome a more affluent, mostly-white citizenry.
“The only time resources are used to redevelop these communities is when there are long term plans in place to remove the people from those communities, to force evictions and to price the people out,” said Samuel Alarape, the associate producer of the documentary created by Black Channel Films, an independent movie company whose creators self-financed the project along with revenue raised from crowdfunding, marketing initiatives and other promotional efforts.
The team of producers further posit their goals: to explore how government and private developers use public assets to gentrify entire regions, utilizing freeways, toll roads and even the police, to create physical and economic boundaries meant to pressure Blacks to leave while openly welcoming new, richer, white residents.
“We ask if this is just a naturally occurring economic phenomena of people moving where they can afford to live or a carefully orchestrated plan to remake American society in a newer, richer and white image,” Black stated.
“From what we see, the ultimate goal is to remove us [Blacks] from the American landscape like they did to Native Americans,” Black said. “Gentrification is an economic endeavor. And many of our Black leaders have been bought off. No one has actually dealt with Blacks who are now an obsolete labor force in America who are citizens not immigrants. Over the next five or six decades, we’ll see that by denying us basic human necessities, Blacks will be the victims of a more humane form of genocide.”
Throughout the documentary, conversations engage credible academics, real estate professionals, activists and citizens who live in gentrifying neighborhoods. And while previous projects have spoken about gentrification as a general economic and social issue, “Gentrified” asserts that the math and evidence point to it being a conscious and deliberate effort focused on Black populations.
Black says if African-Americans want to survive, the conversation must shift to economics.
“Blacks are always told to wait and to be grateful if those in power even make mention of the many issues which we face,” Black said. “But ‘wait’ means putting our needs on hold until those of poor whites and women, white women specifically, are addressed. We’ve been lied to and told that social problems should be our primary concern, like police brutality or the school-to-prison pipeline.”
“The real plan is to keep Blacks helpless. They don’t want us to set our own agenda. That’s why it’s imperative that we get worrying about whether others like us or not and begin to realize that when we are in control of our own economic future, we cannot be hurt,” Black said.
As for the business-minded Donald Trump, America’s new president, Black said, “he’s our wake-up call. But we should have taken a hard look at what’s behind gentrification when Bush or Clinton were in office. It’s too late now. Whites and Asians have been enjoying their evening meals while simultaneously figuring out how to acquire more assets, increase credit scores and understand easier ways to take advantage of real estate opportunities.”
“We’ve lost almost everything in our more than 40-year quest to achieve racial integration in America,” Black said, adding that he’s invited real estate brokers and potential investors from the greater Washington area to the film’s D.C. screening.
“We have a lot of catching up to do,” he noted.
For more about “Gentrified,” visit www.gentrifiedmovie.com or www.youwillbemoved.org.