We’re pregnant. After less than a year of trying the peestick gave us the good news. We cheered, spent a day in euphoria. Then we got to work.
So many things go into having a child: where will they sleep, which doctor will we go to, how do we procure a seemingly endless amount of things? Then bigger picture questions come up: what will this child be like? Can we provide for it? Where will it go to school?
Where will it go to school? That question got stuck in my teeth.
I’m a professor of education policy and ideology. I teach teachers about school in its social context. I’m also a socialist organizer that’s been doing various work on the left since Occupy Wall Street.
I’ve thought about education for a long time. My doctorate is in social-political philosophy of education, but before that I was a high school teacher for five years. Then I got a job teaching education law and policy and I’ve been studying how schools actually work.
I’m also a millenial, read as white, and come from a professional class Jewish family. I grew up in the suburbs and hated it. I’ve lived in cities ever since. That’s why my partner (partner, not wife, she’s queer) moved to Philadelphia. We wanted to be a city. We’d live in a suburb over our dead bodies.
We moved to West Philadelphia specifically. Trees, leftists, and a generally great vibe. Not to mention the very low property prices, which made it easy for us to buy a three-story brick Victorian house with a yard near a community garden.
After four years of making a community here, doing socialist organizing with DSA and other groups, we settled in. We see the area changing. We’re part of that change. West Philly is ‘gentrifying’, a slightly inaccurate name for a process of accumulation by dispossession and development of properties belonging mostly to Black communities who purchased them in the wake of intense white flight from the neighborhood. They were part of a process of predatory inclusion, as KYT says, which adapted white supremacy to the critiques of redlining.
Kingsessing, our area of West Philly, hasn’t been as subject to that dispossession and development. Other parts of West Philly– Cedar Park, Squirrel Hill, Woodland–are ‘developing’: mid-grade real estate capitalists are buying the somewhat decrepit houses (which lower income Black people couldn’t maintain and keep up) and refurbishing them, selling them at exponentially higher prices. House flippers came through there in a wave.
But less so in Kingsessing…