By Janiah Miller
I grew up in Newport, Kentucky, but I still had connections to Cincinnati because of my family, they live across the 52 neighborhoods, there are a few to name, Amberly Village, Madisonville, Walnut Hills, and Evanston. Although a family member told me that Cincinnati was not safe in some areas and to always be cautious, I overlooked that notion. I started thinking about why it got that reputation and came to find out it was because people had been predisposition to believing that a bunch of poor, black, and brown people lived there that wasn’t necessarily the whole case anymore. Sure, there were poor black and brown people who lived their but with a growing gentrified Over-the- Rhine that had begun to change. When I say “change” it was not because the people who lived there got the help and resources they needed, it was because they were being ousted from their own community. Places that were near and dear to the Over-the-Rhine community like the Drop-Inn Center were pushed to the outskirts of Cincinnati, out of sight out of mind. As this displacement continues to happen these community members continue to fight to have a voice and stand their ground for the community that they have held and loved so near and dear to their hearts. With its struggles, they still love it because it’s a place called home, not like wealthy “non-profits” in disguise to turn a profit off the poor to build some posh new building. They disguise themselves to the public by saying they are making Over-the-Rhine an “up and coming” place, a renaissance, but really, they are pushing out the community to make room for affluent individuals while overlooking that the 53% of children in poverty that live in Cincinnati are not going to go away with a fancy new building. Instead they are helping speed the process up of intergenerational poverty through econcide, the urbanization and removal of certain groups through economic opportunities.
I came to learn that certain neighborhoods would get these labels cast on them— society is predisposed to stigmatizing the poor, and people of color, we are bad because of our zip code and then disposable when found that something we had was valuable, i.e, our neighborhoods. Therefore, everything is not what it seems to be, sure people in OTR might be poor and are people of color but why? What circumstances led this neighborhood to get this way? What’s their story? Bonnie Neumeier, long time Over-the-Rhine community advocate says, “Often the institution looks at poor people as if they are just looking for a handout, lazy, no good work ethic when these people have led some of the greatest under talked about social movements that have happened in history—our people aren’t sitting on our laurels waiting for a handout. We organized a movement that tried, still tries, to figure out community-based solutions to uses facing us.”
My vision for Over-the-Rhine is to be a city that does good for the community and not just people who can bring a profit. There doesn’t need to be gentrification to beautify and revitalize a community. Let’s start giving equitable resources to communities that are already being displaced as if they are cattle. It will become easier to “other” problems of housing inequality because they will feel individualized since everyone is being spread out to different places, it will be harder to pinpoint areas that need the most resources. Gentrification is the destruction of the poor; it doesn’t give them a place.