Banking on Newark
The President and CEO of the New Jersey Historical Society, Linda Caldwell Epps (a black woman), wrote an opinion piece for "NJ Voices" that Gaetano found on NJ.com October 30th. It speaks to the kind of city a revitalized Newark and the kind of state New Jersey will be after Newark resumes its role of New Jersey's own metropolis.
Newark will never be what it was 50 or 60 years ago when it was the New Jersey mecca for shopping and cultural life according to those who long for the "good old days". We must remind ourselves that the "good old days" were only good for a select group. Thankfully, our democracy has moved beyond what it was during Newark's "good old days".
Newark and other great cities of the United States will never again be the centers of industrial revolution. Cities will never again be the enclaves of Anglo art and culture.
We have grown as a country. We are brown, black, red and yellow with this rainbow generation clamoring for their rightful place in our society. Our different hues have changed our perceptions, our living conditions, and our culture. ***
There is not a separation between what is good for Newark and what is good for the rest of New Jersey. Newark is New Jersey and New Jersey is Newark. Let us hope that we arrive at this understanding soon. Our future depends on it.
Alas, not everyone agrees with Ms. Epps, and "the haters" were out in force, practically drowning out her hopeful opinion piece with negative comments appended to the end. I didn't recognize the names — well, not names, actually; these people don't use their names — but I did recognize the same 'color'-coded remarks. Different names, same crap.
The white-flite crowd want Newark to fail, because if people in general should ever come to realize that Newark could have recovered from the Riots quickly if the middle class by scores of thousands hadn't run like little white rabbits with their cottontails between their legs, then the cowardice and racism of those who did flee will be understood to have been not just contemptible but also stupid. Newark businesses and neighborhoods could have come back decades ago, after just a few years — instead of four decades — of dislocations and readjustments.
Altho "the haters" flock to NJ.com to post noxious comments about Newark, they do not speak for New Jerseyans generally. New Jerseyans would love to have a great city of their own, one with its own towers, not one that looks across the Hudson to somebody else's towers. They want respect when the name "New Jersey" is spoken, and are sick of "Joisey" jokes.
Who can champion New Jersey? Who represents and speaks for New Jersey? The 'burbs? New Jersey's suburbs are the same as every other city's suburbs, except that a few are a bit blacker. Jersey City has our name, but does it have our back? JC is an extension of New York City, and its skyscrapers were built with New York money to house backoffice jobs for New York businesses. That's fine. But some people in Jersey City insist on calling J.C. "the Sixth Boro" (of NYC). Newark is nobody's 'boro'.
New Jerseyans would love a broad-shouldered, powerful, yet smart, cultured, classy Newark to make the world stop looking down its nose at New Jersey.
I don't know where the money to build a taller, better Newark is going to come from. Our own banks probably don't have enuf. Newark-based businesses can help, when they add jobs, pay taxes, and lease more space. Businesses that outgrow their current space in the suburbs and opt for Newark bring not just jobs but also energy and economic dynamism. Newark-area artists and musicians can help Newark grow, as they draw outsiders in to spend some money in local venues and tell people, when they go home, that Newark is back. Immigrants, especially well-educated people from places like India and China, can help, especially if they bring their business acumen with them. But I suspect our best hope is to in-gather the scattered who should never have scattered, and their children who are now emptying the parental nest. Newark will have 'arrived' when New Jersey kids who can't stand the isolation of the suburbs and think of moving to "the city" think "Newark", a smaller, cheaper, friendlier city, rather than "New York". Home, but not their parents' home.