Our school is known for it’s diverse student body and celebration of individuality. However, it seems as if VCU has been a big contributor to Richmond’s gentrification dilemma. This article highlights more of the specifics, but many students have begun to take notice of black-owned or other minority owned businesses being pushed out of the downtown area while VCU continue’s to expand it’s reaches.
Personally, I have always been aware of gentrification, especially coming from a neighborhood that is slowly being gentrified itself. However, it did not become such an important topic of conversation for me until one night I was riding in a ramsafe back home. My driver (an older black man) and I had been casually talking about random things, until we passed Cary St. Gym and the field right next to it. “You see that new field right there? That wasn’t always there”, my driver said to me. I nodded, knowing that it was a pretty new addition although it was already built when I had gotten to college. “My house used to be there… but because they wanted to build that field there they bought the land and we had no choice but to move somewhere else,” he told me whilst shaking his head. I had no words to say back to him, other than that I was sorry that had happened. He continued to speak about how VCU had done that with many others like him.
This conversation has really stuck with me, as it was a smack in the face about how we are so privileged to be attending a four-year university while being ignorant about the hurt and marginalization those around us are going or went through. Although the article may be a few years old, the problem of gentrification has not stopped in Richmond. It is up to us to learn more and seek out what we can do to help those around us.