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Uplifting Black, Brown, queer, and marginalized voices across the South.

We’ve all watched as our hometowns have shifted, and as developers have disappeared long-term residents, renaming whole neighborhoods, and burying decades of memories under the concrete foundations of new minimalist condos. 

But there is always another narrative if you dig for it. 

Scalawag hosted an event in Durham, North Carolina called ‘Member When?!: a community retelling of downtown Durham. Written with the memories of local residents, these 12 haikus capture the love, sorrow, and rage of folks who celebrate their city but are sick of gentrification. Click the accompanying audio files arranged in chronological order to hear Durham residents tell you about Bull City the way they know best.


“Those memories are there forever.” 

dress sopping wet down 

in the fountain fishing for

what wishing can’t buy 

Every day, new sh*t goes down in the South.

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Durham, Early-‘70s
Kathy Patterson

“There weren’t gonna be people downtown” to unlock the giant Chevy Caprice.

Locks, be you jimmied!

Leave the cops uncalled. Durham 

solves it on her own. 

Durham, Early-‘80s
Betsey Barton

Smelling Tobacco”

Some leaves memory. Dad

& me in sweet of fall—

not all smoke & cancer.

Durham, Late-‘80s/Early-‘90s
Maya Jackson

“We painted outlines of bodies… That’s what I remember.”  

In the dark that demonstrates,

outlines in the street 

woke Hiroshima. 


“Back when the post office was still the post office”

The projects over- 

shadowed by shadow projects

projecting shadows. 

Durham, Mid-’90s
Betsey Barton

“I was a rifle girl so we were down there showstepping…”

Humid North Cack heat,

trumpets crack dawn nonstop like

we’re at Mardi Gras.  

Durham, ‘90s
Maya Jackson

Red Hot And Blue”

Shutdown, but we heard

in blues the deep clay: soil

music, people, free!

Durham, ‘90s
Danielle Purifoy

“The image I have is of the most beautiful Black woman.”

Mangoes and cast iron sink, 

house with a gangsta lean. 

She IS the plug!

Durham, Early/Mid-oughts
Aya Shabu

“We were very restricted in where we could go.” 

Lavender milkshakes 

before hipsters hijack Walltown,

when we were safe. 

Durham, 2006
Cierra Hinton

“Little Studio Apartment”

8 years creative.

We imagine. We flourish. 

We afford our rent. 

Durham, 2011
Gemynii & Betsey Barton

 “We had neighbors”

Don’t bother telling

the gentry you hungry when 

there’s Bread uprising!

Durham, 2012
Teli Shabu

“You are disrupting the character of the neighborhood”

and how we exist.

Don’t come here and build fences.

Build community.

Durham, 2019
Aya Shabu

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Alysia Harris

Alysia Nicole Harris, Ph.D. is a poet, performer, linguist, and charismatic Christian. She lives in Atlanta and serves as Scalawag's arts & soul editor.