What would I inform a Black girl about transferring to Pittsburgh?
Editor’s word: This marks the final column from contributor Tereneh Idia, who has been a useful voice on the Pittsburgh Metropolis Paper over the previous few years. We right here on the paper want her all one of the best in her future endeavors and thank her for all of her onerous work and perception.
“I do know somebody who is considering transferring to Pittsburgh, so I would like her to fulfill different Black girls,” a pal of mine just lately tells me. She pauses earlier than including, “However perhaps not you, Tereneh.”
We each snicker — that was humorous.
Then I waited for the e-mail or cellphone introduction. And waited.
I assume my pal needed her pal to fulfill different mates, perhaps not this pal particularly. Ouch?
So for my closing column for the Metropolis Paper, I made a decision to reply the query: What would I inform a Black girl about Pittsburgh?
Initially, I’d say Pittsburgh is attractive. The valleys, timber, rivers, and hills: lovely. And like all lovely metropolis, it appears to be like a little bit totally different daily. Mt. Washington will get a lot of the shine, however the views from the assorted North Facet neighborhoods and areas, together with Troy Hill, Federal Avenue, Fineview, and Perry Hilltop, and the best way Downtown Pittsburgh instructions your eye regardless of the humbling impact of the encompassing hills, lets you recognize nothing human-built can compete with Mom Nature’s perfection.
The present mayor, Ed Gainey, is the primary Black mayor of town. As I write this, the primary Black girls congressperson from Pennsylvania, Summer season Lee, was simply elected. And a sista from Philadelphia, the honorable Joanna McClinton, would be the first African-American girl Speaker of the Home of Representatives, and the second Black individual to carry the place. (the primary African-American speaker was Pittsburgh’s personal Okay. LeRoy Irvis).
You most likely have already searched “Black girls Pittsburgh” on the web. I extremely suggest you learn these articles, particularly these written by former-Pittsburgher Brentin Mock. Truly, everybody residing right here, and anybody pondering of transferring right here, ought to learn these articles too. Most don’t, pondering, “I’m not a Black girl. It doesn’t apply to me.” However in fact, it does. Each justice and injustice creates ripples and reflections within the water — it’s a mirror to the soul of town. The reflection wanting again from the Ohio, Monongahela, and Allegheny rivers are Black girls and femmes working in the direction of justice.
“The reflection wanting again from the Ohio, Monongahela, and Allegheny rivers are Black girls and femmes working in the direction of justice.”
There’s no “Black neighborhood,” however there are a number of locations all through the area the place Black people reside and collect. There are eating places and meals vans to take you on international culinary journeys (although the spice degree is mostly a bit decrease than different locations I’ve been), and you may go from Lagos to Laos, from Kingston to Kenya by way of a plate of meals.
There are superb Black girls and femmes right here. They wave a Horrible Towel in assist of the Steelers, rock fly-ass church hats, prepare dinner superb dumplings, write poems, educate yoga, current artwork, dance, invent, create, and do a myriad of great issues for household, mates, neighborhood, and neighbors. However, most of the time, they received’t be offered as “consultant of the area.”
As a result of the shorthand for Pittsburgh is whiteness: shirtless white males in freezing temperatures on the soccer stadium. Babushka girls are talked about 10,000 instances earlier than acknowledging the Black church hat girls. And, when it comes to iconic meals, it’s pierogis over dumplings, samosas, and some other stuffed yumminess, although all of them have an equally vital cultural connection and legacy to Pittsburgh.
Misogynoir is just not distinctive to Pittsburgh, however Pittsburgh does it so very effectively. It’s just like the rusty patina on the outdated U.S. Metal constructing — relying on the place you look you’ll be able to see the corrosion, whereas others solely see the midnight metal grey. Pittsburgh frequently ranks as one among, if not the worst, locations to reside in America as a Black girl. This consists of elementary points like high quality of life, and research have discovered that Black people in Pittsburgh don’t reside so long as these in different cities. Which, provided that we reside in America, is admittedly saying one thing.
In saying this, I have to say once more how superb the Black girls and femmes are right here — how they’re the core of pleasure I discover on this metropolis.
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was filmed right here and other people typically confuse the “Land of Make-Imagine” with Pittsburgh. So, you’ll have the surreal expertise of being handled like crap at an occasion or restaurant, or at somebody’s house as you stroll by their “No Place For Hate” or “No Hate in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” signal.
A handshake right here comprises each reward for and doubt of your capacity. I generally suppose the poor air high quality is partly due to the misogynoir spoken and trapped within the valleys. Recent air, recent concepts, and new methods of making neighborhood are wanted.
All too typically the conversations you will have with people who aren’t Black will likely be much less about what it’s important to say and extra about assuring that individual they don’t seem to be racist. (This can be instantly after you had been confused for one more Black girl.) There appears to be a disconnect between all of the reviews stating racism and the precise perception that individuals expertise racism daily. I typically remorse any conversations I’ve alongside these strains and keep away from them now as a lot as attainable.
I have no idea the place the Black Pittsburgh expertise begins, however one fascinating chapter is one starring Francois. He was an enslaved African man within the 1700s who escaped the French at what was then Fort Duquesne, now Fort Pitt. He tipped off the Virginia troops, in service to the British, that the French would quickly abandon the fort, and it will be advantageous to the British to make a transfer, which they did. And so, right here all of us are, however you received’t discover any statue for Francois.
Sure, we’re right here at this confluence of water, time, and place. We’re right here in Diondega, the Seneca Japanese Door of the Haudenosaunee. We’re right here the place the Lanepe, Delaware, and Monongahela peoples, and mound builders, referred to as house for 1000’s of years. I have no idea who the primary Black individual was in Pittsburgh, however if you’re the newest Black girl to come back to Pittsburgh, I hope you like, snicker, and luxuriate in it as a lot as you’ll be able to, and assist others to do the identical.
Welcome to Pittsburgh, sis.
I needed to thank the staff on the Metropolis Paper, all of my former editors, and a giant shout out to Alex Gordon, RIP. Thanks to everybody in Pittsburgh who learn even one phrase of what I’ve written over the previous 4 years.