On the one end you have the Ghettoization of communities, you know it starts off first with poor leadership not doing anything from the get go, quality of life issues begin to deteriorate while complaints go unanswered, a community board that does not do enough to say NO to shit like waste transfer stations and homeless shelters, other high power leaders who dump these kinds of things in communities because they feel they can in communities of color and residents will just sit back and take it up the ass, a fractured community where so many do not care, poor zoning allowing for the destruction of nice homes into third world ghetto slum apartment buildings, lack of proper services, crappy business begin multiplying, enforcement slacks off, property values drop, low-class folks arrive by the dozens, crime increases, schools fall apart and BOOM, you are smack in ghettoland, hence JAMAICA.
On the other extreme, you have Gentrification, which takes advantage of the ghettoization, which was allowed to happen in a community. Developers swoop in, elected officials make shady deals, rampant irresponsible development takes place, people get tossed out (both bad and some good), property values rise too high, people sell to make big bucks and it spreads and a neighborhood changes completely and then, next thing you know, you are getting run over by hundreds of white people’s Cadillac baby strollers wanting some fancy overpriced cheese store and $20 martinis.
But there is a middle ground, but that takes caring people in a community who takes pride in their neighborhoods. They keep eyes out, report bullshit and nonsense, they demand action from leaders and don’t stop till they are heard, they keep their community clean by placing trash and litter in receptacles not on sidewalks and streets, they take care of their homes and business properties by keeping lids on their garbage cans, they don’t trash parks (Rufus King Park), they clean their sidewalks and do not remove every bit of greenery they can (grass, trees, etc) which help purify air, give shade and soak up rain so you do not have constant flooding. They are active in their community and don’t fall prey to bullshit by useless and corrupt elected officials (Comrie) or scam religious leaders (Flake), whose only interest is the money plate. And you showcase the positives and the history of your community.
Jamaica has an amazing history of many prominent political figures (Rufus King), jazz icons (Ella Fitzgerald, John Coltrane) and Hip-Hop/Rapp (50 Cent,Lloyd Banks, Phife Dawg ). Even heavy metal (Metallica, for a brief period). In fact, Jamaica has the most jazz and rap hip-hop artists of any place in Queens, by huge margins. Jamaica has the most landmark buildings in all of Queens (I think it is up to about 21), with such gems as former Lowes “Wonder Theatre” on Jamaica Ave, First Reformed Church of Jamaica built in 1859, King Mansion plus the Addisleigh Park Historic District.
But you would never know it, because the leaders in this community have no vision. Any other area that had such amazing history would be selling this and promoting this, but instead they just trash this community and ghettoize it and when you allow ghettoization to flourish you just open the door for gentrification. Our community should be focusing on this history and highlighting it, especially to people outside of the community. We should have great murals all over the community showing our rich history (hell, we have plenty of young and older artists in our community, we have York College, St. John’s). We should have galleries and museums showcasing our history and jazz lounges (we have the talent here). Plus we have such diversity of people, where we should have a international restaurant row (like in that ghetto 165th Street Mall with the brick road or Hillside Avenue or Sutphin Blvd. We should have a black museum and show the great black heritage of Jamaica. Bottom line, we should have PRIDE, but unfortunately that is sorely lackey from leaders down to residents. In this community is seems that most do not give a shit, hence the garbage, the crap, the ghettoization.
I mean look at some of what we have, like the JCAL, the Jamaica Performing Arts Center, the Black Spectrum Theatre in Roy Wilkins Park, the wonderful Baisley Park and the Afrikan Poetry Theatre. We should also not have waste transfer stations and auto-body shops dumped in residential areas, they should be in non-residential commercial areas, which we have plenty of room for. These place should have never been allowed to be dumped near residents (Do you think Forest Hills would have allowed that).
I don’t know really what is going to happen, because most of the times these things have a life of their own and happen regardless. See, when you are talking big money and there is a HUGE amount of money being invested in Jamaica, the monster creates itself.
But the bottom line is in this day and age, Jamaica can no longer afford to stay in the ghettoization lane anymore, property in NYC is too valuable to allow that to continue and you can clearly see that happening now and believe me, from someone who lived in Long Island city before the development through part of it, once it starts, it snowballs and it moves fast.
I don’t like gentrification, but I hate ghettoization more.