Sorry Gentrifiers, People of Color overwhelmingly Support Venice Dell Community Project

Nice try but most Brown & Black Venetians support the Venice Dell Community

Gotta hand it to the right wing media in Venice. Great propaganda move getting a few people of color associated with the community to speak against the large and much needed affordable housing complex we know as “Venice-Dell Community.” But really I don’t know who they think they’re fooling with their recent tokenizing of Black and Brown people.  Sonya Reese,  Evan Hines, and Robert Haro’s statements might have actually been believable if it weren’t for all the Fight Back Venice talking points and sentiments.

Sonya Reese’s Statement

To start off much respect to the family legacy. She has every right to decide how and where her grandfather’s name should be used, no question. However, she is not the only ancestor of Reese and she was originally for the project despite the social media twists from white gentrifiers about how VCHC and Becky Dennison are allegedly culturally appropriating.  I even saw one Facebook post from one their propagators referring to this alleged cultural appropriation as “Black washing.” Wow. 

At any rate, there were many questionable points to address but suffice it to say there wasn’t much to corroborate most of them.  She expresses deep concern for BIPOC having beach access but what better way to give us beach access than for us to have a secure home and space in this rapidly homogenizing and segregating community? Also, is there really no other places for people of color to park at Venice Beach? 

Statements like “Forever multi-cultural”, “ (VCHC) Creating racial and social divide”, “proudly racially and economically integrated community”, “Venice has more housing of every economic level and is more racially integrated than most any other part of Los Angeles”  show a major disconnect with the actual racial and economic reality here in Venice. Her out of touch sentiments are negatively directed at VCHC who actually has consistent history of working with BIPOC community. If she is racial justice oriented then what does she have to say  about, and how is she even working with, the racism reinforcing agenda of  Fight Back Venice and The Westside Current groups and audience?

Please make it make sense. 🤦🏾‍♂️

I’m sure just like most people she favors racial justice intentions but in action, I don’t know her to be a racial justice champion for Venice. I don’t recall her or any of the Fight Back Venice crew having anything to say about any of the numerous egregious development projects contributing to displacement of traditional Venice residents. Nor do we remember her or them having much to say about Arthur Reese’s legacy when we were fighting probably the most single, significant racial justice battle in the neighborhood for the First Baptist Church of Venice.  

It doesn’t make sense. Just like with Robert Haro’s and Even Hines statements which follow in similar insincere and coached suit,  there is no consistency or logic to support their statements. Of the three featured,  Haro is the only one I know that is actually has a communal relationship with the real Venice community. Even still, Haro’s “letter to the editor” disses the Mexican-American Traquero Monument’s placement on Windward circle in almost verbatim fashion as Mark Ryavec and Murez family members. Like, are you gentrification agents trying to be that obvious? 😂  What a sad attempt to impose on, and overide, the voice of the Black & Brown Venice community. If you didn’t know already, that imposition is  racism.

The motive of this propaganda was to give the misleading impression that the Black and Brown community was against the project as well as dishonestly tie their persona to social/racial justice concepts for added effect. Clever in approach but anyone with a foot in Venice racial and economic justice reality in Venice can see right thru it.

The project is big and aspects of it are not to my preference but we need desperately need low-income affordable housing. Its massiveness is reflective of the intensifying homogenization of Venice and the need to balance out the rapidly segregation like path we’re on. It’s an imperative.

You can’t be against this project while continuing to endorse market-rate and luxury developments as well as partaking in other segregation reinforcing policies and behaviors.  You would just be reinforcing the possibility of future affordable housing developments being equally as large when instead they could be dispersed throughout the community instead.

Reese, Hines, and Haro’s statements are glaringly coached and insincere. You would do well to study why the color/racial dynamics of the support and opposition are very clear and are what they are. Using token, self-hating Black & Brown folks to double down on your denial that you are participating in the de facto segregation of Venice is really pathetic. If this project were gentrification reinforcing market rate or luxury condos the majority of  Reese-Davidson’s opponents would have nothing to say.

But the fact remains, even with its flaws the overwhelming majority of Black & Brown folks in Venice are for the Venice Dell Community project. You’re best move is to try to understand why that is as well as finally  respecting our voices and self-determination. Racist, white-washing propaganda is not  the way and it surely isnt going to save you. Please stop already.

5th generation Venetian, Indigenous Rights Activist and educator for youth and families in West Los Angeles, and lead coordinator of the Four Corners Spirit Run. Current Board member of the Venice Neighborhood Council (and 2014-2016). Perspectives are my own.

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