Racial Discrimination/ Bayway Housing Projects, Elizabeth , New Jersey



Gentrification as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes it as: “the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents.” But upon closer examination of gentrification and public housing developments – and specifically the Bayway low income housing projects in my neighborhood – it seems like these two don’t seem to go together. Why is this so?

All across this nation black folks are working tirelessly to preserve public housing and are pushing back against the growing gentrification process. It is no different here in the Bayway “projects” which happens to be in my neighborhood along with being across the street from where my mother currently lives.

So, why is this happening here and other low income housing developments across this nation? Why do we continue to see activists in Los Angeles, Chicago, Baltimore, and other big cities fighting to preserve public housing?


I’ll tell you why. It is because “black lives matter” and that “we” – our nation – needs to recognize that many blacks and Hispanics – who make up the majority of the tenants in these housing developments – call these projects home.


We need to understand that the Bayway projects and public housing all across this nation is more than a place to destroy and allow gentrification to move in.  We need to start see the people of low income as people not as inferior. We need to understand that our future as an integrated society depends on calling an end to housing discrimination and it begins with chants of “Black Lives Matter”.

 In the reading, “ A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement”, Alicia Garza speaks about how , Black Live Matter movement was created to bring awareness of the oppression and misconception of criminality that African America people deal with in the United States;  with the hopes to stop these misconception that have damage the image of the area where there are a high concentration of Blacks.  Garza quotes, “ When we are able to end hyper-criminalization and sexualization of Black people and end the poverty, control, and surveillance of Black people, every single person in this world has a better shot at getting and staying free.”  Bringing awareness of racial discrimination to the people who are dormated can be a start.





And in my and mother’s neighborhood the Bayway projects and its tenants have spoken and continue to speak out against these forms of discrimination. How you ask? By bucking the trend and defying the statistics that clearly demonstrate that the majority of housing projects historically have the highest levels of crime in a community. The Bayway projects happen to be one of four so called “projects” in Elizabeth and I have been told by several local police officers that the crime levels at this specific housing development are surprisingly low. They seem surprised by these statistics as the general stigma and ugly stereotypes of high crime that have come to be associated with housing projects don’t seem to apply to Bayway.


The people and the tenants in this project seem to have either singularly or collectively decided to make a choice to invest in their homes and demonstrate to the “powers that be” that these are their homes and that they will not be lured out by Section 8 vouchers for example so that the building can be destroyed to make way for new condos.


So, in effect these people are voicing their strong opposition to gentrification by doing the opposite. Through a sense of communization they recognize and accept that the very limited housing choices afforded them given their all too often non-livable wages forces them to stay where they are and make the best of their living conditions. And by reinvesting in their housing developments through this sense of communization they resist gentrification efforts and at the same time let out a silent collective scream to the community leaders in Elizabeth and society that not only do Black Lives Matter but public housing matters as well.



The Precarity that is thrust upon these underemployed and disenfranchised minorities including Black and Hispanic people by our Political structure demonstrates and describes how their lives are continually exploited and rendered abject and meaningless. When I’m there I get a feeling of struggle and sense of being stuck in a unfair situation. In the reading,”Vibrant Matter”,  Jane Bennett explains how impersonal affect is being able to put yourself vicariously in another emotional, mental, physical situation/environment (to be able to comprehend the energy). Therefore, by just stoping by my mother apartment I can have sense of impersonal affect when it comes to the discrimination.  It places blame for poverty on the backs of racial minorities. These groups across America living in these housing projects including the Bayway projects have little to no choice but to accept the precariousness of their situation. Their low income jobs dictate what housing choices are available to them. And in order to lessen the possibility or mitigate any future risk of being on the chopping block of a potential gentrification project they have instead focused to fight back in the only way they know how or can. By not only drawing attention to and embracing the Black Lives Matter ideology but going a few steps further in fostering the conversation about how low income public housing is just as important. And by doing so and bringing attention to this overlooked issue they also remind the often white political establishment that their housing project is an exception to the rule that often characterizes low income housing developments and “projects” as being crime ridden and – by definition – prime targets for potential gentrification or any other form of discrimination.




Jane Bennett, Preface, Chapters 1 & 2 in Vibrant Matter, 2010

Alicia Garza, “A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement


El Infantanero


~ by jbarbosa5585 on September 25, 2018.

One Response to “Racial Discrimination/ Bayway Housing Projects, Elizabeth , New Jersey”

  1. This blog post is 3.Best all around. Very informative and clearly states the percarity and affects that come from it. I really like the quote from the Black Lives Matter article and how it correlates with that of what is going on in the area, and probably Jersey in general. Discrimination. New Jersey officials are mostly predominantly white. There’s a big problem with the judicial system especially when it targets communities with POC.

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