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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
"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.
Some leaves memory. Dad
& me in sweet of fall—
not all smoke & cancer.
"We painted outlines of bodies… That's what I remember."
In the dark that demonstrates,
outlines in the street
"Back when the post office was still the post office"
The projects over-
shadowed by shadow projects
"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.
"Red Hot And Blue"
Shutdown, but we heard
in blues the deep clay: soil
music, people, free!
"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!
"We were very restricted in where we could go."
before hipsters hijack Walltown,
when we were safe.
"Little Studio Apartment"
8 years creative.
We imagine. We flourish.
We afford our rent.
"We had neighbors"
Don't bother telling
the gentry you hungry when
there's Bread uprising!
"You are disrupting the character of the neighborhood"
and how we exist.
Don't come here and build fences.