There’s a lot more color here but a lot less green. Black men actually stop and acknowledge me as a Black woman as I walk down the street. They make eyes as I stand in line at the store. Crack boyish-like smiles as I turn around to confirm what my intuition was telling me.
Black men rarely looked at me in Portland, let alone utter a compliment. But here, on the corner of S. Portland and Fulton you would think I was the next best thing to air. That may skin was made of stars and my afro rivaled the intensity of Saturn’s rings judging how these brothas gaze at me. Not too far away from this intersection, a man took my hand into his while introducing himself and I was tempted to tell him my name was Venus.
The air quality may not be as good here but I breathe deeper. My stride moves at a quickened pace but I don’t miss much. I notice that people look down to peep your shoe game, but not to avoid eye contact. I haven’t ran into many hipsters in this area but I’m sure they’re somewhere not too far away sharing a case of PBR amongst themselves while trading tips on how to style the most unique mustache.
From what I’m told, this neighborhood has changed. Caught up in the hurricane of gentrification with pockets unfamiliar even unto itself. I just pray that when the figurative dust settles that this place in Brooklyn never starts to feel like Portland. Never sheds that thing that makes it Ft. Greene in exchange for dressing up in the uniform of Every Gentrified City, USA.
On this street named Portland in Brooklyn may something familiar, genuine, sweet and rooted continue to live.