It’s a bit long, 1 hour and 20 minutes to be exact, but this is the video you have all been waiting for. Full disclosure: it was provided by the Foundation for Community Empowerment, founded by Don Williams.

A week ago last Saturday morning, a lively panel discussion about the Fair Park proposal took place at Paul Quinn College. It was sponsored by the African American Leadership Institute and put together by state senator Royce West.

At the podium were Mayor Rawlings, Walt Humann, Don Williams, Royce West, John Wiley Price and Michael Phillips (author of White Metropolis).

Michael Phillips (who you see, above) was the first speaker, and he immediately launched into his concerns over the lack of public input, the lack of public communication, and his fears that the real estate around Fair park could become the latest victim of what he calls “domestic colonization.” I think a lot of people worry about that.

“I’m concerned by the fact that this valuable piece of Dallas real estate would be governed by a board that could meet without any public record. It’s a private corporation, right? A private foundation,” he said. Great points. Then he said this:

What’s really going on with “gentrification” is domestic colonization. And when you have a colonial relationship, that is designed to be unequal. That is not equal. You have an imperial power that extracts wealth out of a colony. That’s land, products and low wage labor, and that’s what goes on with gentrification. And then the colonial power then sells products at a grossly inflated rate and rips off the people who live in the colony. That’s what going on with gentrification. I want to make this clear.

I see Phillips’ point, particularly because of the history of this neighborhood, which is terrible. But it was really terrible in a lot of places in the world in the early part of the 20th century, NOT just in Fair Park. And it seems to me that “domestic colonization” has been going on around Fair Park for a long time. Few residents own their own homes, most are tenants. A cursory search on MLS shows few homes even for sale in this area.

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Which is why I think there is still a fighting chance for the people of this neighborhood with the right plan, a neighborhood park, and some help with home ownership. (more…)