A Tale of Two Austins

A Tale of Two Austins

A writer and his fiancé relocate to Texas, only to find that the neighborhood they wanted might not want them...

by Adam Harris, October 25, 2013

A Tale of Two Austins

Austin, Texas

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is one reason why housing prices have nearly tripled in East Austin since 2007 according to Austin's demographer Ryan Robinson. Obviously they didn't take the advice that my fiancé and I were given to steer clear of the area.

After departing the coffee shop, I weaved my way around East Austin until I felt it. I stopped into the next barbershop I saw and that was it. The buzz of the clippers and the roar of debate felt like heaven. Shop-goers boasted of past endeavors and conquests. There was high school football talk of how these young boys couldn't hold a candle to those old E.H. Anderson state championship teams from more than 50 years ago. The ambiance was real and authentic. For the first time, away from the hustle and bustle of South Austin, I was at home.

Before parting, they mentioned a few churches that my fiancé and I might want to check out. This was next on my list of necessities and I thanked them for the advice.

We planned on attending services that Sunday, as it was high time that we found a church home. Our thirty minute drive east led us to St. James Missionary Baptist Church. We found a seat in the middle of the sanctuary and began chatting with the members around us. Many of the members attended services there for years. Most of these people were Ex-Austinites who now lived in Pflugerville, Leander, and Hutto. They told me that Austin was not the place that it used to be.

Housing prices and property taxes skyrocketed for them, with the latter leaping by 500% in the last decade. People such as the folks from the coffee shop who boasted of their miracle transformations of homes were driving these prices up. The more they moved in, the more Blacks moved out. They told me that once there were more Black barbers on the east side but many of them left in favor of less expensive areas and that soon most if not all of them would be gone.

People in Austin and those who write about it like to believe that Austin is without flaws. A place where anyone can come and feel at home with the right attitude, if you don't agree you can happily leave. After seeing behind the veil, it might not be right for me.

Adam Harris is a Freelance Writer living in Austin, Texas. Follow him on Twitter @BlackSisyphus.

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