The Black Block
A Cultural District in Downtown Pawtucket
The Black Block is a hub of black owned real estate with a concentration of black owned business ventures and expressions of African-American culture
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The Black Block Story
The History: From its beginnings, The United States has had tremendous challenges around race and poor treatment of black populations. Structures have existed before and after slavery that have led to inequitable access to education, wealth, housing, health services, healthy foods and land. In addition to inequality and divestment, intentional investments are often made in criminalizing, caging and harming black people. Investments in fossil fuel driven equipment, policing, surveillance, and exploitative corporations have led to sustained challenges to communities of black people.
Consequently, the black community is often challenged to build economic and cultural hubs because of limited resources, limited experience and often because it is still dealing with the short and long term effects of historical and present community trauma.
In the summer of 2016, a group of black Rhode Island residents discussed the possibility of collaborating for social change in the state of RI. The group organized a week-long summit to consider and agree on priority goals and action. At the week’s end, the group agreed that the root of many black community challenges is the lack of examples of positive black collaboration, economically thriving black communities, and healthy living conditions in predominantly black communities. This reality has a negative impact on the African American psyche. It reinforces low expectations of and within the black community. It also impacts the experiences of other black individuals in America as it propagates negative beliefs and discriminatory action from both non-black and black individuals toward black people.
The Plan: The group of black RI residents decided to commit to developing a hub of black owned real estate, black owned business ventures, and African-American cultured social activity in the unlikely state of Rhode Island within 5 years. The intention is to locate the hub in a challenged area and use creative ideas from the black community to build quality business ventures and physical improvements that would lead to a lively, economically thriving business and social hub.
Cultured social and economic hubs are typical in communities where there are concentrations of individuals of particular ethnicities. They serve as a place of refuge for individuals of the culture who enjoy the opportunity to see their culture expressed, celebrated, and enjoyed by others.