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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Mathis


Updated: Sep 28, 2021

I learned early on that there’s a place inside oneself that no one else can violate, that no one else can enter, and that we have a right to protect that place.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Critically important to our developing, sustaining, and thriving in who we are authentically is our ability to hold our spaces, physically and metaphorically. Brixton like so many hubs of thriving Black communities are and have been experiencing gentrification and with it, displacement; the lost of critical communal spaces that assists in forging us as one community amid our multifacetedness. The same is also true metaphorically as a result of anti-Blackness, intentionally manifested in colonialism, imperialism, westernization, and now the surge of easternization, led by China, in which authentic spaces have and are having to be transformed and/or “diversified” in order to fit and support their outcomes and narratives as “saviors” and “investors” which are often in direct opposition of our thriving and wholeness as a community of people yielding our and our spaces exploitation. In physics, the term displacement is defined as “the displacing in space by one mass by another.” We were told after the hard won victories of the various equality and social justice movements around the world that we as Black people have won and our prize, integration. However, what we have discovered is that which purports to be integration has become a metaphor for assimilation in which little by little we gave, give, and/or are giving up our authenticity in order to be accepted and affirmed, embracing the “prize” of an integrated society and its newest iteration, a diverse society. Non-Black people, in particular white people, denoted Africans/Black people as “savages; unrestrained by laws, intellect, morality; as a race of beings exhibiting the ‘nature’ of mankind in its very lowest state of degradation, and incapable alike of civilization or improvement” (The Saturday Magazine, May 28, 1836, UK). Thus, the masses of white people have sought to displace us from the spaces that develops, sustains, and causes us to thrive under the guise of gentrification, integration, diversity and we have allowed them. The wonderful thing about Brixton as well as other physical and metaphorical spaces of our community, our vibe, flow, remains present in our spaces, although, we no longer own nor control the spaces and thus, they become vehicles of assimilation for the sake of integration, diversity, catering to and the driving of our narratives by others. I suggest to you that the lost of our spaces, authentic spaces which feeds and nurtures who we are, our Blackness, results in the deterioration of our positive and self-identity as a community of people, our being one, even amid our differences, eroding our ancestral, historical, cultural, social, and political identity as Black people and thus impacting our ability as a community to reframe our issues, reassess our resources, and reimagine our outcomes, which causes us to thrive, driving and sustaining our own narratives. To counteract the wiles of gentrification, integration, diversity we must continuously engineer spaces, both physical and metaphorically, in which we establish fueling stations; protected spaces in which we celebrate and nurture our Blackness and our community of people who are pregnant with both legacy and promise for greatness. The alternative is our ongoing displacement; physically, emotionally, and socially at odds with our spaces, one another within our community, and our thriving as one community while unintentionally positioned to succumb to others driving our narratives that accommodates their preferred outcomes in our movements of Faith, Public Policy, Politics, Social Justice/Equality, Women; LBGTQI, etc. Brother Jabbar is right, we must discover within us, our community, spaces (our elders would say our prayer closet) where we can be real and authentic, feeding our Blackness and fret not that it is exclusive but instead we are determined to protect, guard our community spaces for the life and prosperity of our people depend upon it.

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