Don’t take it personally

Dear Editor:

Being pragmatic did not get the ancestors through slavery, Jim Crow or segregation. But our people got over by focusing on the collective we, rather than the individual me – somewhere along the way that narrative has shifted and our community has become more self-centered.

At the end of the day, what is most important to me is ensuring that we preserve the historic beauty of south St. Petersburg, particularly in Midtown, while doing everything we can to foster a climate conducive for economic success.

Similar to the Deuces’ heyday, a time when minority-owned businesses were bustling with patrons swarming into their stores, ready to do business with folks who looked like them and lived amongst them. People who shared their values.

We’ve become so focused on the distractions that we’ve lost sight of the real goal: Building a self-reliant and self-sufficient community.

Our leaders in city hall, Tallahassee and our nation’s capital are so consumed with their political agendas that they have neglected the people. The focus has shifted to downtown developments and Midtown discourse.

We’re not talking about affordable housing, we’re not talking about raising the minimum wage to a living wage, we’re not talking about practicing the environmental stewardship, we’re not talking about the racism, sexism and homophobia, and all of the real issues facing real people each and every day.

I worry so much for my generation. How do they expect us to play the hand we’re currently being dealt?

I support educating the masses and engaging the uninformed, for this is how we begin to effectively turn our anger into advocacy. Politics is not spectator’s sport, so it’s imperative that we get in the game and start rewriting the narrative. No longer will we accept the status quo as our normal.

This isn’t a personal attack, but rather a community critique. For sometimes we have to take a step back and do a self-assessment to see what’s working and what’s not working. What do we stand to gain and what have we to lose?

If we come together and put our disagreements aside, our community can fight gentrification with policy, not personality or personal interest. And if the local government, community-based organizations, nonprofits and grassroots advocacy groups can build community engagement, raise-up and prioritize the needs of the neighborhood and residents who risk being displaced by gentrification.

As we head into an election season, it’s vital that we keep the real issues close in mind and heart. Given the compelling realities, St. Petersburg is slowly becoming a tale of two different cities — we need to continue to grow and build, but not focus solely on just Downtown and North St. Pete—the sun must shine for all and not some.

Corey Givens, Jr.

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