Should Black People Start to Participate in the Great Reverse Migration?

A concept by Charles M Blow is making Black Americans in the North consider moving down South for more political and economic power.

A Black family leaving Florida for the North during the Great Depression — Smithsonian Magazine

Many of us may be familiar with the Great Migration, a movement of 6 million African Americans out of the rural Southern United States to the urban Northeast, Midwest, and West that occurred between 1916 and 1970. Many of our grandparents had grown up in the South but migrated to the North because there was said to be more opportunity and “less” racism. My family’s roots are from Alabama and North Carolina, but because of my grandparents on both sides migrating to Jersey, half of the family is now in the North.

Lately, a lot of my friends in New York and New Jersey have been moving to places I never really considered. I had always thought New York was the place to be, the most amount of fun along with the possibility of succeeding in anything you want. But as reality started to set in, it was apparent New York could be draining not only to your savings but to your mentality as well. Was the bad starting to outweigh the good of staying in New York? Its borderline impossible for the middle class to own any property in New York City and many millennials are struggling to even pay their rent. The economy sucks and the pandemic really hurt the millennial generation the most in terms of loosing jobs. So what really did the Northeast have left to offer?

According to Business Insider, millennials are abandoning New York City and San Francisco and moving to southern cities like Nashville, Tennessee; Houston, Texas; and Charlotte, North Carolina. These cities still offer a fun time for someone in their twenties as well as a possibility to own property and not live paycheck to paycheck.

And that’s when the Reverse Great Migration comes in. I first read about this concept by Charles M Blow in the New York Times. Charles is an author of the Book “The Devil You Know” which has populated this idea. In summary, Blow suggests that Black people return to the states where they had been at or near the majority after the Civil War, and to the states where Black people currently constitute large percentages of the population. The effect of the move would allow Black people to colonize the states they would have controlled if they had not fled them during the Great Migration. Reversing the 6 million people who left the South would create dense Black communities, and that density would translate into statewide political power. For example, in November, Georgia voted blue for the first time since Bill Clinton won the state in 1992. A majority of those who voted for Joe Biden were Black.

Of course it is easier said than done to just leave what you know behind. Moving is expensive and requires much planning, finding a new job and a new community. But Blow believes those obstacles are outweighed by the opportunity. Would we finally start to see the good outweighing the bad, unlike living in New York? Another consideration would be the racism in the South. However, white people outside the South are more likely to say the right words, but often have the same bigotry. They might not be racist to your face but that doesn’t mean their actions and mindset are not racist behind closed doors. We are in America, there is no way to escape racism. But if we come together and start gaining economic and political power, we can start making small changes in this country for our benefit.

So-Called Oreos on Instagram

In this episode, the So-Called Oreos explain the concept of the “Great Reverse Migration” from Charles M Blow and the reason why Black Americans moving back to the South becomes more appealing each day. Kia and Janae are later joined by friends Lex and Gena, a gay couple who met in New York and decided to get hitched and move to Atlanta, GA to start their lives. Lex and Gena give us the pros and cons of moving back to the South and suggestions for those wanting to take part in the Great Reverse Migration. Lex explains how she went from being an EMT in New York to a Pet Stylist in Atlanta and doubling her income and having more time and money in Atlanta.

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