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Is HGTV for Black People Too?

September 8th, 2019 · Random Things That Make Me Smile

I’m a HGTV addict. I binge watch Flip or Flop, Love It or List It, The Property Brothers, and Fixer Upper. This morning, I settled down on the sofa with a cup of Earl Grey tea to watch a marathon of Good Bones.

Good Bones features a mother-daughter construction team. They work in Indianapolis renovating and re-selling homes. The daughter is young and respectful, but doesn’t get steamrolled by the mother. The mother looks like someone I’d like to have a coffee with. They are white but I feel good about the female power they exude.

But this episode was a painful watch. The duo took pains to say they weren’t familiar with the neighborhood and that it was outside their usual “wheelhouse.” Red flag number one. The cameras took the viewers inside, where there are piles of clothing and garbage. My spidey senses were tingling.

Was this about a black family’s home?

Within a few minutes, my question was answered. An attractive middle-class African-American woman was explaining to the duo that they had about “given up” and had considered tearing the house down. which belonged to a woman she referred to as “grandmother.” (When she used the term, it was in conversation with her own daughter, so it wasn’t clear to me if she was referring to her own mother or grandmother.”)

What was clear was that the home had been in the family for decades. How does this happen? A home owned by a family for several generations, sold at a cut rate to speculators and developers. All while the rate of black homeownership since 1970 is at a record low.

The black woman dabbed at her eyes. She seemed thankful the house would be saved, but there was an undercurrent of sadness. Thirty minutes later, the spectacular renovations were revealed. The mother-daughter duo spent over $250,000.

The black woman was brought in for the reveal and there were more tears. “This is what grandma would have wanted,” she says to her daughter. The contractor daughter demurely suggested that perhaps the family could buy it back from her. The asking price $400,000. The mother-daughter duo want a profit margin of $118,000. The margin seemed high, as there were other episodes where the duo was happy to make $30-60,000.

I’m not calling the mother-daughter duo racist or absolving the black family of any responsibility. I just have loads of questions. What happened here? Did someone die without a will/estate plan? How many heirs were involved? Why did they not pay the taxes and provide basic maintenance on the home? Did they seek out financial assistance or bank loans to update the home?

I know from my own family history, black homeownership has been plagued by redlining and it’s evil second cousin – predatory lending. In NYC, hundreds of homes, owned by black and brown families are being taken for unpaid water and sewer bills.

So I have a proposal for HGTV. Why not create a show that spotlights black homeownership, one of the major sources of the black wealth, in the United States? You provide the cameras and the television expertise and I’ll pull together a team of black bankers, attorneys, realtors, interior designers, contractors, landscapers and community development activists for a new TV show that celebrates the grit and endurance of the black homeowner.

But if HGTV is for black people too, let’s not sanitize the economic downfall of black homeownership, for public consumption.

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5 Things to Do in London That Won’t Make Your Tweens/Teens Roll Their Eyes

April 3rd, 2017 · International Travel, Travel Tips

Now that my kids are in their teens, it gets a bit challenging to find activities they will participate in without groans, sighs and the obligatory teen eye roll.

Here are 5 picks that are sure to delight even the crabbiest teenager.

  1. Camden Lock Market – features rows and rows of eclectic clothing, art pieces, and hand crafted items for sale.
  2. The British Museum – if only for the mummies. This recent NY Times article breaks down a few of the highlights. Copy the map to take with you. Admission is free and its located near Russell Square, which has lots of great restaurants.

 

 

3.  Borough Market – outdoor food heaven and teens like to eat

In the background is the Shard

4.  The Ice Cream Parlour at Fortnum & Mason – you can have tea while the kids make their own sundaes.

    5. The Cutty Sark, the historic clipper, restored and filled with interactive exhibits.

BTW, all the sights and places above are equally enjoyable for adults.  In the comments below, let me know of any tips you have for activities in London for teens and tweens.

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