There are characteristics that make up each side of San Antonio.
Photo Credit: Fernando Rover
The West Side- home to the ‘barrios,’ and the plethora of Mexican restaurants; the South side- home to Pearsall Park, and Brooks City Base; the North Side- home to La Cantera and Alamo Ranch; and the East Side- home to Martin Luther King Park, Healy Murphy, Sam Houston High School, and Mrs. Kitchen.
Over the past twenty-five years, the dynamics that have come to shape the city of San Antonio have begun to change the face of each respective side of the city. Elected officials have come and gone, buildings have come and gone, but most of all, people have come and gone.
“Gentrification” and “environmental racism” have been residents of San Antonio for quite some time. Merriam-Webster defines ‘gentrification’ as “the process of repairing and rebuilding homes and businesses in a deteriorating area (such as an urban neighborhood) accompanied by an influx of middle-class or affluent people and that often results in the displacement of earlier, usually poorer residents.” Encyclopedia.com defines ‘environmental racism’ as “racial disparities in a range of actions and processes, including but not limited to the increased likelihood of disproportionate negative impacts toward a community’s atmosphere.”
Disproportionate impacts could include the overwhelming number of bookstores and shopping malls on the North Side vs. the underwhelming number of the East Side; the overwhelming number of vacant lots on the East Side vs. the rise of new and innovative living communities on the South Side; even the rich cultural Hispanic prowess on the West Side vs. the fading African American community voice on the East Side.
Impacts come in many variations but the one overarching theme that appears is the pragmatic paradox of tradition and inclusion.Seen through a mere snapshot, the beneficiaries of tradition and inclusion is front and center and tells a thousand words.
For San Antonio, the city often hailed as the premiere city of diversity and inclusion, the remnants of gentrification and environmental racism begs the question of diversity and inclusion to whom? The disproportionate number of minority families forced out of traditionally rich neighborhoods to make room for industrial innovation i.e the arrival of the Alamodome in the backyard of San Antonio’s East Side in the 1990’s and the forgoing redevelopment of the Downtown corridors. What happened to those families impacted by these new arrivals? Do they still reside on the East Side today? Why or why not? The Alamodome, once home to the San Antonio Spurs, a proud economic juggernaut that came to San Antonio.
Where is the fruits of that labor today?
Since then, many areas of San Antonio have witnessed dramatic change to the atmosphere surrounding inhabited communities. A change that is still going on today. Not all change is negative. On the contrary, change can greatly transform a community.
But at what cost is community prosperity traded in exchange for economic prosperity?