by Nirae Petty
If you have lived in King County for more than ten years, you wouldn’t need the 2020 U.S. Census data to notice the radical shift of demographics in Seattle. As the city’s population drastically grew over the past two decades, many low-income BIPOC families were displaced due to gentrification. I experienced this phenomenon firsthand in 2010, when my family was pushed from the Central District to South Seattle. Now much of my extended family lives outside of Seattle altogether. I am one of many Seattleites who takes hardcore pride in my city — but seeing my loved ones suffer from gentrification made me question if the Emerald City was as progressive as it claims to be.
Like many other families, we have encountered unforeseen issues with housing and job security. As a child, I was separated from familiar neighborhoods and many of my friends. At an early age, I began to feel like our city’s politicians did not care about the people in my community.
The impacts of gentrification and how it disproportionately affected my community inspired my passion for activism at Rainier Beach High School. I became Student Body President and Vice President of the Black Student Union to convene often with school clubs and local organizations, gaining knowledge on issues our community was facing. The focus of conversations regarding gentrification was on the skyrocketing rent prices and the limited support for BIPOC-owned businesses. But I had no idea that there is more to blame for gentrification than the unyielding housing market and Boeing. I was unaware of the severe lack of representation of BIPOC individuals in our local and statewide government, and I did not know how essential it was to have people making decisions for our communities accurately reflect those communities.Continue reading OPINION: Redistricting Happens Once a Decade — Let’s Increase BIPOC Representation