Living in the projects generally means that you are unable to afford any other type of housing because of your economic standing. The majority of people living in these institutions are people of color, black people mostly if we are thinning the line.
Racism exceeds our general understanding when it comes to the living rights of black people. African American people have directly been discriminated against when they are looking for affordable housing.
Home owners make conscious decisions to deny Black American people access to affordable homes and that helps the issue of Black people having to live in conditions that are below the standard of American living. Rojer Sanjek, an anthropologist book, “The Future of Us All” dives into the world of housing with a concentration on race relations in New York City. In his fieldwork he came across a man talking about who he’d lease his apartments to and the following texts exemplifies where he stands, “This situation we perpetuated by individual white landlords such as the building owners I overheard discussing prospective tenants with real estate agent: ‘Afghanistan is okay. Anything, but not blacks” (Sanjek, 228).
Black Americans are forced into the projects that have problems with overcrowding and high rates of crime surrounding the complexes.
Black people are not only subject to living in these types of conditions but the mass has deemed people who live in these types of environments as lazy and ruthless people. Ads and campaigns have circulated to portray the fallacies that people held against those less fortunate than them. Leonard Freedman takes notice of this in his book “Public Housing: The Politics of Poverty”, “Nothing could have captured the distrust of disdain for poor better than the slogan “Do you want to Pay Somebody Else’s Rent? which was used with minor variations in cities all around the country”.(Freedman, 99).
Black people who also live in these types of environments start to develop inferiority complexes. They show signs if isolation as a result of their living conditions. The projects are also one the main places where surveillance is heavy, so black peoples’ bodies are always under a watchful eye that can be internalized and lead to mental issues. Freedman in the following portion of the texts cites another author that clarifies the social stigma black people are living with in these developments, “its comparatively thin culture, containing a great deal of pathos, suffering and emptiness…It’s encouragement of mistrust magnifies individual helplessness and isolation’ Does the individual who grows up in this culture has a strong feeling of fatalism, dependence and inferiority” (Freedman, 108-109).
Despite the apparent facts and racism that has been used to explain the displacement and force of relocation of black bodies, there is still a resilience to our people. Institutions were set in place to relieve people of the economic imbalance that America struggled with after World War 2 but the projects have been repurposed over the years to serve as a tool of oppression and displacement.
Terms will forever be used to help explain our pain and struggle but i wanted my piece to relinquish the pain and objectivity that the projects have birthed. Black people are beautiful resourceful people who are able to camouflage into their surroundings and make the best out of their circumstances. We are a powerful force that should be recognized for our beauty and intelligence and forgiveness. We are more than our pain.
The door signifies the entrapment of the projects but the back drop of grass leafy panels represents our strength and resilience.
Sanjek, Roger. The Future of Us All: Race and Neighborhood Politics in New York City. Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press, 2000.
Freedman, Leonard. Public Housing; the Politics of Poverty. New York, N.Y: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1969.