Open Letter To South Phoenix
The purpose of this project was to see South Phoenix for what it is. Not to see it as what is portrayed on the news. Not to see it as the rumors we have heard. Rather, we were to go down to this southern organ of Phoenix and see it for what is really is, the good and that bad through our own lenses.
South Phoenix is currently caught in a fire fight between to local armies. The first is the South Mountain Village Community. They want to bring change to the community in the form of new houses, new business ventures, new social establishments, and new people. Their battle plan is simple. Dislocate as much of the native population as possible. This is seen in the number of affordable housing that is being built, which is near zero.
The second army is that of the native South Phoenix people. They arenít organized, they arenít fighting back, and they see it coming. The people in South Phoenix that are active are those who are trying to curb the SMVC from changing everything. This army doesnít have the money, education, power, or even possibly time to stop what is happening. All of these deficiencies were caused by years of gentrification finally coming to end stage.
One of the failed defenses of the native population was the pollution. Environmental racism has been rampant in South Phoenix since Phoenix was created. Present day South Phoenix has some of the worst environmental conditions in the city. The very symbol of South Phoenix might be the dried out river. The many industries that line it use it as their own garbage can. Waste from all over the city accumulates here. At night, as sort of very dangerous to inhale fog begins to appear. The Communities response to this is to build a park on it. Itís the same idea as building a golf course on a city dump. Just cover over the problem with a shiny, pretty thing, and raise questions about the three eyed fish later.
Before South Phoenix is gone, I suggest doing a few things. First, go down there and take a look at the art. It is not in a museum though. It is on the walls of businesses. Murals that portray a thought, a feeling, an issue exist down there that are not comparable to anything anywhere else in town. Such acts of creativity anywhere else in town would be labeled as graffiti and immediately covered over.
Second, Mc Donaldís and Jack in the Box donít exist. There are still fast food places on nearly every corner though. These places are family owned restaurants that have an excellent cuisine without the ridiculous marketing campaigns or advertisements. Sit, eat a taco, and drink a horchata.
While you are wiping your mouth free of the leftovers of the taco, remember this. In a year, the building next to where you are sitting in South Phoenix might not be there anymore. Not from a natural disaster or arson, but from years and decades of gentrification. A year after the neighbor disappears, the bench you are sitting at will probably end up in the bottom of a landfill, later to be covered over by a golf course.
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