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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Black communities’ struggle for share of restoration funding

Resources more likely to go to rich newcomers than long-established poorer enclaves

Exclusivity defines the Maryland shoreline: large homes with gazebos and private beaches, quaint towns chockablock with designer handbags and chic dresses, restaurants serving $25 crab cake dinners.

Less likely to be seen are the tight-knit African-American communities that have endured since slavery. They are off the main roads. They are lower to the ground — often on land they got because few others wanted it. Vulnerable to both rising waters and declining populations, they struggle for resources to fix roads, rebuild homes, repair churches and protect what remains.

In the 1800s and early 1900s, the most-desired settlement areas were away from the Chesapeake Bay’s edge. Low-lying land close to the water was often unsanitary, its adjacent marsh filled with mosquitoes and its soil less hospitable for farming. The land flooded; its residents occasionally became sick from drinking polluted well water or from contact with sewage and industrial waste. A water view from on high was fine, as long as residents didn’t get too close.

Because no one wanted that land, it went to African-Americans, who farmed its banks and plied its waters for fish, crabs and oysters. They could buy it cheaply — and they did — building country churches and seafood plants that still exist today.



Anonymous said...

There are just as many, if not more white and mixed communities, living in the same conditions or worse. They're overlooked, and many would not even think about applying for any kind of "restoration" grants.

After a disaster, they pick up what they've got left and make the best of it. That's just how our people survive.

Anonymous said...

The headline saying that minorities in Crisfield were being "left behind" when it came to getting post-Sandy help is a crock!Residents of the housing projects got paid for hotel rooms and transportation to them,food vouchers,etc,etc.Then they returned to newly renovated apartment to be destroyed again.Guess what I got? I got to sleep on peoples couches until I found a rental to move into....and still got audited after getting aid.Now ,the streets around the projects are getting repaired and resurfaced based SOLELY on the neighborhoods poverty rate while other,busier streets are being ignored again! To the original writer :Perhaps when you do a story on Crisfield you should talk to more than one person.