One of the most important pieces of advice I received was from an historical figure from my fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha. J.R. Johnson was so important that he was mentioned in our fraternity history book. He told me when I was a member that I should buy land, because there is a limited amount of it and no more is being made.
That short conversation I had with him put me on track to becoming a landowner. I did not immediately take his advice, but as I became an older adult, I started purchasing properties. I chose to buy houses in North Tulsa. One reason was because I believed this part of town needed investment and had been neglected. Another reason is because I wanted to invest in a majority Black community to build it up to make my heavenly grandmother proud.
My grandmother raised me in North Tulsa when I stayed with her on the weekends. She loved her community, so when I had the chance to buy my first house in North Tulsa, I jumped at the opportunity. The community is starving for investment, hope, infrastructure, and retail. North Tulsa is no different than many lower-middle class areas in America.
As Johnson articulated the need, we have seen a movement to purchase land in historically Black and Hispanic and improving the neighborhoods. The problem is for many, the changes are being done without consideration of the culture. With the improvement of the communities comes increased taxes and home values, which could push current residents out of the area because they can no longer afford to stay. Most investors in the community do not come from there and do not understand the nee to preserve the culture. Neighborhoods across America need investment, and we should appreciate those who take the risk to invest in areas run down by crime, poverty, lower educational standards, and violence. But investors must think of the people they are displacing.
Black and Hispanic home ownership and commercial real estate ownership are far behind the White community. There is an opportunity to buy buildings in Black and Hispanic communities, as generally, housing in those areas are cheaper than in White neighborhoods. What has happened for years is that White investors have seen an opportunity to buy land and property in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods at a cheaper price than they could in their own communities and have brought their own culture to those areas. I do not feel it is bad to identify an investment and go after it, but I want Black and Hispanic people to do the same so they can create the communities. Progress is inevitable and we all have to adapt or die. Land is going to be purchased. Will it be bought by people who look like the community or those who do not look like the community?
The Black and Hispanic dollar has enormous buying power, but those dollars are not being invested into real estate to create generational wealth. There has been racism within the financial community for years, which has kept Black and Hispanic communities sidelined and forced them into lives of forever renters. To combat this issue, those in power must review their lending policies and root out the racism, but in the meantime, Black and Hispanics must identify investment opportunities and try to find institutions willing to invest with them or pool their money together to better their communities.
Corey Carolina is an NSU graduate, author, North Tulsa entrepreneur, and owner of Carolina Food Co.