Written by Tremaine Jasper, Owner/Managing Editor of PhxSoul.com
If you asked me before the year 2015 if the Phoenix metropolitan area needed a predominantly Black neighborhood, I would have said, “No.”
Although racism has been alive and well in Arizona for decades, I felt like there has been a lot of harmony among people of all races over the years. I was born and raised in Phoenix, attended predominantly white schools and only dealt with a few minor racial incidents in my life. Nothing that scarred me. I still love all of my old friends!
However, the last few years of President Obama’s term in office proved that racism and police brutality is at a boiling point in America! It’s not safe for Black people to be out on an island!
It’s HIGH TIME for Black people in the Valley of the Sun to huddle up, protect each other, educate each other, do business with each other, love each other and LIVE TOGETHER in the same community!
BLACK PEOPLE in the Valley of the Sun … it’s time for all of us to return home to SOUTH PHOENIX ASAP!
We need to buy homes, rent apartments, buy land, buy commercial office buildings, open our businesses, host our events and invest time/money in our schools in the South Phoenix area!
For those who don’t know, South Phoenix was historically known as the home for African American residents. In the decades prior to the 1970s, South Phoenix was the only part of the city in which homes were sold to African American and Latino residents, due to restrictive covenants on housing. We’ve also had strong roots in Mesa (Washington-Escobedo neighborhood) but South Phoenix was where we really planted our flag.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Black residents started spreading out to other areas of the Valley such as Scottsdale, Chandler, Tempe, Glendale and even Scottsdale. In more recent times, we’ve moved to Gilbert, Peoria, Surprise, Avondale, Goodyear, Tolleson, Queen Creek and even Anthem!
Many of the non-Black residents in those suburbs have struggled to adjust to our presence. There have been countless racial incidents in those communities!
We will only choose to list a few recent examples:
- In January 2018, several white San Tan Junior High students were recorded on video shouting “F*** All N*****” at an off-campus party in Chandler. Black parents wanted them them punished, the Chandler Unified School District denied that request.
- In June 2017, several Black community activists revived a crusade to get Arizona’s SIX confederate monuments removed from public land. Those removal requests were denied. Arizona Governor Ducey refused to do anything.
- FYI, Arizona was not even a state during the Civil War and was not a party of the Confederacy. Many of those monuments were erected within the last 30 years.
- In February 2016, six white Desert Vista High school students wore shirts that spelled out the word “N-I-*-*-E-R” on campus and took a photograph which was posted on social media. The girls were finally punished after a major public outcry.
- In January 2014, a fraternity at Arizona State University hosted an MLK Black Party where members and guests dressed in basketball jerseys, flashed gang signs and even drank from watermelon cups. The fraternity was permanently removed from campus after a major public outcry.
The worst part about many of the racial incidents in Arizona … you rarely see any remorse from the white people involved! What’s even worse, our numbers aren’t strong enough to make those people feel any real pain for their actions! Our numbers in the suburbs are just too small to influence change for the better!
Black people have taken too many losses by thinking that we won by “moving out of the hood!”
If you’ve moved to Fountain Hills, Queen Creek, Buckeye and Surprise, how many times have you gone at least three or four days without seeing another Black person (outside of your family members)? You think you’re winning by NOT interacting with people who share your cultural heritage?
We also weakened ourselves politically by leaving South Phoenix!
In 2013, the Black community lost our foothold on the POWERFUL District 8 City Council seat in Phoenix! Why? Because the Black population was no longer the majority in South Phoenix! We didn’t have enough voters to elect the Black candidates! It’s a shame because we had a Black city councilman in that District 8 seat for DECADES before 2013! DECADES!
I can guarantee you that District 8 will NEVER see another Black city councilman unless our numbers grow significantly!
Why are we sprinkling ourselves around the Valley when we could have a STRONG, INFLUENTIAL, UNIFIED CONCENTRATION in South Phoenix?
I am resident of South Phoenix and I know there are many positives to living here:
- We still have thousands of Black residents in the South Phoenix/Laveen area.
- South Phoenix has beautiful views of the entire Valley.
- We still have many Black business owners and several Black politicians in the South Phoenix/Laveen area.
- The South Central Light Rail extension, which is set to open in 2023, will create jobs and economic development for the community.
- The struggling Roosevelt School District in South Phoenix has one of the most diverse student populations in the state. The educators, administrators and board members will benefit tremendously from an ENGAGED influx of Black parents who want to make sure their children are receiving the best education possible! Great opportunities for Black parents to become board members as well!
- South Mountain Community College, South Mountain High School, Cesar Chavez High School, Betty H. Fairfax High School and the various charter schools in the South Phoenix/Laveen area will be able to partner with African American parents and professionals to provide enhanced Afrocentric learning opportunities.
- South Phoenix is close to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, downtown Phoenix and major highways!
- South Phoenix has great community centers, parks, libraries and other facilities to host festivals and other events.
- South Phoenix has plenty of office and retail space for Black entrepreneurs to grow their companies.
- Broadway Road in South Phoenix may permanently become Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard in the near future! We should be here for that!
- We can renovate older homes and buildings on the cheap! We can fix what’s broken!
This isn’t a call for SEGREGATION, this is a call for EMPOWERMENT, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, PRIDE and UNITY!
Black people complain that we have NO unity and NO culture because we don’t have an all-Black neighborhood in the Valley! It’s time to change that now!
Do you understand how much easier it will be for us to create Black Wall Street or our own WAKANDA in Arizona if we all live in the same space?
We will be able to support own businesses and recycle our dollars among our people because we will be near each other! You can’t expect someone who lives in Queen Creek to make a daily drive to patronize a Black business in Peoria!
Information-sharing will be so much easier if the majority of us reside in the same vicinity! People of ALL races will have a better communication with the Black community because they’ll know where to locate us!
We will be able to love each other because we will be familiar with each other!
Black People in the Valley! Are you tired of complaining that we don’t have a Black neighborhood here?
If you say, “YES,” then do something about it!
It’s time to COME HOME to SOUTH PHOENIX and make Arizona overall a better place to live!