They want me to pay $3.00 for a metro card!! Ain’t that some sh….. And what exactly am I paying for? Am I paying for a new train station in my neighborhood? For faster service? Am I paying for more cops? Or better yet, maybe I am paying for less rats? Sure, that must be it. Because why else would they have the nerve to ask me to pay more money!?
But wait, what if they are asking me to help pay for Hudson Yards. Now that train station is something to see! Clean lines, smooth surfaces, bright lights. It looks like something from out of Star Trek, and not the corny Next Generation Star Trek, but more like Star Trek Voyager, or better yet, more like the Star trek Movies coming out now. And what if I am paying for the new train line on the East Side of the city as well? Because if my money is going for these stations but none of it is going to my own, then why the hell am I paying more money?
I got off at Hudson Yards one evening and looked around me to see who exactly lived in this neighborhood, who exactly would be benefiting from this new train station. I saw a few people, most of whom looked nothing like me, but for the most part I really saw hardly any people at all. It felt like I had taken a train to the Twilight Zone, to a dimension where millions of dollars are spent on train stations for people who don’t even exist. When I told a friend about this they let me know that the train station was built to accommodate the New People who will be living in the New Neighborhood they are building.
“You don’t think they can have the New People, especially these New People with New People Money, walking halfway across the city or catching a city bus just so they can hop on a train, do you?” My friend said. “Come on my Brother, I thought you were smarter than that.”
Perhaps, I will be paying for the new train line on the East Side, or to be more exact, on the Upper East Side, the line that ensures that everyone who needs to travel that route, the Upper East Side route, will do so in style and with ease. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind helping people out when it comes to their daily commute. My concerns are not about what other people get for their neighborhoods, but more so about what other people never get for their own.
On Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights, they redid the train station when New People (New People being people who read articles in the New York Times that identify neighborhoods worth exploring and colonizing, and then begin to colonize those neighborhoods) They cleaned it up, put in new stairs, gave it a fancy banister, and provided it with what seems like its own legion of cops. Then you also had a Starbucks that popped up right next to the renovated train station, because God forbid you go in the train station or come out of it without a grande, pumpkin spice late in your hand! And if you use that train station on the weekends, so that you can visit one of the countless New Restaurants on Franklin Avenue where mostly New People go to eat, you will see a border patrol set up, with a police tower and spotlights, with armed guards and undercover detectives, all of them there to ensure that the Original People like me, people who lived in some of these colonized neighborhoods before the New People discovered these New Lands, us Original folks who now mostly live on the other side of Eastern Parkway, so that us Original Folks don’t get crazy if we ever decide to visit.
The train stations in the neighborhoods where I run Intervention programs for students at-risk still look like war zones. Filthy station platforms. Chipped wooden benches. Walls of peeling paint. More rats on patrol than cops. I wonder how much money is going to these stations. Because, as much as it hurts my pocket to shell out more money for a metro card, I wouldn’t mind so much if it meant the wealth would be spread around the city equally. But if it isn’t, then what the hell am I really paying more money for?!
Who knows? Maybe I am wrong and if I give it time, the additional money will flow to neighborhoods that really need it. There will be sparkling new train stations all over the city, in places where Original Folks live all on their own, without even one New Person to benefit from the improvements. And maybe someone will build and rebuild for people who actually live in neighborhoods that have been neighborhoods for decades, before they build for New Neighborhoods that don’t even exist yet. Sure, that is going to happen. Why not? If it’s one thing I have learned from looking at the world around me these days, it is that anything is possible. And I do mean ANYTHING!
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