Their Own Neighborhoods

When you ask why people would burn down their own neighborhoods*, I hear you tell me that you don’t know:

  • That people living in subsistence-level poverty move frequently to escape unlivable housing and predatory landlords or because their financial status has improved or deteriorated and have little chance to put down meaningful roots.
  • That people in impoverished neighborhoods would often choose to live somewhere else if discriminatory housing, lending, and transportation policies didn’t make that impossible.
  • That policies of non-investment in segregated, impoverished neighborhoods means that a lot of property is already unused or unusable.
  • That the businesses that will operate in these neighborhoods often apply a premium using their local monopolies, both to their customers and to their employees.
  • That people who have been abused for years have been trained to turn their anger on themselves, because trying to punish those who abuse them will get them injured or dead.
  • That you don’t begin to understand what desperation is, much less what it feels like.

Are these necessarily the reason anyone would tear down their own neighborhood? No. But that’s still a lot of ignorance to be showing off with just a few words, so maybe you want to knock that off.

*Note that even this premise is wrong in some cases. Reports are that at least one fire in Baltimore was started by a tear-gas canister landing in trash.

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Their Own Neighborhoods
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4 thoughts on “Their Own Neighborhoods

  1. 2

    When you ask why people would burn down their own neighborhoods*

    Do “they” want “them” going into “their” gated communities and burn “those” down?

    To your point, it is a complete lack of empathy or understanding of what it is like to live a subsistence life where working 2, 3 or more part-time jobs at or below the poverty line, no benefits or health care, and with no hope of improving your life is ‘the way of life’. Toil, struggle, and if you try to raise and stand up yourself, get beat down, and if you stay down be shouted at for being lazy.

  2. 3

    Ooh, more on-point than my last comment. Mother Jones has an article up indicating that the cops had shut down the buses and train station in the neighborhood, as well as cordoning off several streets, just before the high school let out. So you’ve got a school’s worth of bored, angry and/or scared teenagers, milling about and frustrated about being unable to head home (which many of them wanted to do, precisely because there’d been rumors about people who did want to start trouble). I can’t think of a better way for government to induce an incident.

  3. 4

    “That people who have been abused for years have been trained to turn their anger on themselves, because trying to punish those who abuse them will get them injured or dead.”

    So, in a sense, the abused are destroying their neighborhoods as a form of self immolation like the buddhist monk back in Viet Nam did in protest of his government’s stupidity.

    That would certainly get peoples’ attention.

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