Just some thoughts and ideas going around in my head while trying to figure out where I am and where everyone else is going.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Plan

Now I’m not one who is a believer in great conspiracies. Even though I wasn’t there, I don’t think there was a paid CIA trigger man on the grassy knoll in Dallas in ’63. I don’t believe that Princess Diana is being kept on life support in the cellars of Buckingham Palace. In fact, even though there is a whole bunch of shit that doesn’t add up, I don’t believe G. Dubya or the Jewish Defense League or anyone else not associated with the hijackers of 911 were responsible for the destruction of the Twin Towers. But I was listening to a podcast of This American Life on NPR this week and they were doing stories on an episode called Human Resources. One of the stories in the show was called The Plan.

I have heard about The Plan since the late 70’s early 80’s. It is usually referred to as a white conspiracy that started around 1967-68, the period MLK was shot and the riots started in many of the major cities like Baltimore, Trenton, DC, Detroit and Newark.

The idea was for white families who had sold their properties and fled the cities to the suburbs to eventually come back into the cities and buy back land that had dropped in value due to neglect. The result would be to force black families out and usher in white families who would have made a nice neat profit; selling high and buying back low.

I would hear this theory and just laugh at the absurdity of people denigrating gentrification just because of some silly fear they had about displacement. Who would be able to organize such a diabolical arrangement? No one could tell me. “This was a story right out of George Orwell,” I would think to myself. Nowadays, I would even attribute it to an Oliver Stone movie with a meaty role for Kevin Costner that could jumpstart his career. That is I would, but I don’t.

I haven’t been to Harlem since President Clinton took up rooms there, but I get the impression that the neighborhood has changed. Rates and rents are slightly more expensive than they used to be. Some small businesses have been forced to move further away from 125th St. and replaced by larger ones that were usually seen in mid-town New York. The GAP and Starbucks now occupy the spaces that used to be held by the local barbershop and family owned eateries. There are parts of West Philadelphia that are now being called University City as many homes are being bought and taken over by the University of Pennsylvania. In New Orleans, I remember seeing on the news many of the residents of the Lower 9th Ward who had lost their homes from Hurricane Katrina, will no longer be able to afford the replacement homes that are being built there now.

In many cities across the nation, young white couples are now being seen walking the dog or strolling down the streets with their children, whereas before the only whites that had been seen before were those who worked for the city or came to collect the rent. And now I wonder.

I have witnessed the 30 years of benign neglect that has been allowed to occur in certain urban areas. I witness the change that has turned many of the slum dwellings of the poor into million dollar homes for the more fortunate. I have seen or heard of the many people, mainly minorities, who have lost their homes because of the subprime mortgage fiasco and I wonder.

Has all of this urban renewal and fictional wealth for the poor just been one vast scheme by the “man” as another way to take advantage of black people? I don’t know. It’s been a question that I have lived with my entire adult life and then some. But I'm afraid, just like the destruction of the Hindenburg and the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, the existance of The Plan maybe one of those questions that will never be answered.


  1. diabolical is some folks middle name, dont sound far fetched, when is it coming on again

  2. Chacoyrami - Thanks, I appreciate it.

    T - It seemed far fetched to me, but as I get older and older I'm starting to think that maybe I've been wrong all along.

  3. I don't think there is a big master plan or anything like that. However, I do think there are mini plans..LOL The 1st few that get in on deals and then everyone and then others follow trying to get that same good deal.

  4. D - If you have a large plan like the invasion of Normandy on D-Day or small plans like the attacks against Russian troops by the Mujahadin, if the results are the same, is there a difference?

  5. Hi Curious,

    Of course there is a plan although it might not be THE PLAN.

    It's simply gentrification and it's been going on forever. The upper-middle class wins and the poor lose.

    The difference now is that we have so many media outlets and so many different ways to hear about gentrification.

    In the past people would buy in these poor area's but no one knew except the people who were living there.

    I think that there are definitely conspiracies but I don't give White people in general that much credit to plan any particular gentrification effort; especially one that would last for 30 years.

    If anyone is pulling off a plan it would be bankers and Wall Street types.

  6. MDC - When I think about logically and reasonably, I agree with you whole heartedly.

    It dosen't make sense for little white children to be given instructions to go into depreciated black areas when they grow up and buy properties at cut rate prices. But they are buying land for much less than the true value along with the "bankers and the Wall Street types" who are investing and or foreclosing on homes owned by certain folk.

    Maybe it's just class warfare as you say, but it seems to me that black folk are the ones who seem to be hurt the most. That makes me raise an eyebrow and question what's going on.

  7. Good read, Curious.

    I'm conflicted when it comes to gentrification. One one hand, gentrification certainly helps. I enjoy watching neighborhoods in my city grow and develop into flourishing live, work, play districts. Baltimore no longer has high rise housing projects. Where those towers once stood, neighborhoods filled with half million dollar homes have been developed.

    One the other hand, where do these people go when rent and rates get out of hand?

    It's really say to say that I think this way but, that's how the cookie crumbles sometimes. The less fortunate are called that for a reason.

  8. Mr Jones - I like to see gentrification too, but not at the expense of other people.

    Like I think you are saying, housing projects have turned into an excuse to create ghettos of poverty, crime and social dysfunction. But what happens when you are poor or old, or poor and old and your property taxes or rent has gone up so much that you can no longer afford them? What happens when due to no fault of your own, the economy goes bad and your mortgage rates increase and you lose your one piece of wealth to an unknown financial institution, who will in turn sell it to someone more fortunate?

    Yes, things happen. "That's how the cookie crumbles," you say. Or some would say, "that's how the piss pot cracks," and I would say "Yeah... but why are black people always the ones under that pot?"


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