In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Hough riots, I am reposting a series of articles I wrote about being a white person in the 97% African-American Hough neighborhood of Cleveland. With the Republican National Convention also in town, I am praying for a peaceful event. I hope in some small way, I can lend my voice to the ongoing and critical conversation on race in this country.
Before I tell you my story, I want to acknowledge some of the voices that have welcomed, challenged and inspired me as a neighbor. As an ordinary (though minority) resident of Hough, I did nothing extraordinary for my neighbors. To the contrary, I intentionally tried to resist the “white savior” attitude that assumes white people integrate into black neighborhoods to “fix” them. I just bought a house, and food, and went to church, and work, and sent my kids to school…all because I genuinely thought it was a cool place to live.
Just being there exposed me to people who are making Hough the great place that it is right now. And I want to start by briefly introducing you to some of them. If you want to invest in the neighborhood, then invest in the people who are already doing good work here. Give them money, press, resources, and access to your networks.
These leaders welcome support, and can help direct you to places you can make a genuine impact! And if you want a real feel for the pulse of the neighborhood, then pay attention to them.
All the Hough Leaders on my list are not only cool individuals. They also work with established and effective organizations that serve our community. Please check out their projects, sign up for their newsletters, send them lots of money, contact them to volunteer or get a tour, and talk about them with everyone you know.
Lila Mills, Communications Director for Neighborhood Connections
Mansfield Frazier, Founder of Chateau Hough
John Anoliefo, Executive Director of FAMICOS
Charity Hall, Outreach Director of NEON Health
LaJean Ray, Director of the Fatima Family Center
Mittie Imani Jordan, Chair of The National Institute for Restorative Justice
How are you taking action?
This list is by no means exhaustive, so just consider this my recommended starting point for conversation. Please comment with black-led, Cleveland-based organizations you know deserve all the support and attention they can get.
Please note that URLs and positions may change, so my apologies if any of these links don’t work in the future. Try to track them down via social media or internet search.