Our First Year in Oak Cliff

I moved to Dallas-Ft.Worth 9 years ago.  It made sense for a guy from Paris, Texas who had just graduated from Texas A&M University to make a move to Big 'D'.  I quickly settled into apartment living in Irving, which was a great place for a new start in life.  So many young professionals end up in Irving, Valley Ranch, or Las Colinas upon their arrival to DFW. 

It wasn't long before I realized that if I wanted to buy a house, I'd have to look elsewhere.Even back then, in the late '90's I started whispering to my friends that I was going to move to Oak Cliff.  The initial reaction was always laughter, followed by a doubting look, and the words "yeah right."  I was however, dead serious, though I never was sure how it would all come together.  Then there was selling my wife on the idea.I mean, who ever says they are moving to Oak Cliff?  Not Kessler Park or Kidd Springs; but Oak Cliff (where you can tell the raff from the riff).  Where would you buy a house?  Where would your kids go to school?  Where do you do your shopping?  Go to the movies? Go to the grocery store?  The mall (certainly not SW Center)? 

To make a long story short…we moved to Oak Cliff about a year ago.  And in the end, it just made sense.  It made sense because much of what we do is Dallas: jobs, school, family, church, and the their's the Black Folks Factor.To be totally honest, it's been a great year.  We were blessed to find a house that was on par to where we were living in the burbs.  We have cut down the time of our son's school commute from 3 1/2 hours a week to about 1 hour and 15 minutes (it was less than 30 minutes prior to school relocation).  Our work commutes have been shortened as well. Church attendance during the week is much more manageable due to the fact that we are about 8 minutes away from Friendship-West. 

Also, I feel like in Dallas, I can have a say rather than sitting by as a spectator.  Everyone has an opinion on how to solve Dallas' problems, but they want to do it from the sidelines; armchair quarterbacks would probably be more appropriate.  Everyone in North Texas tunes in for the Dallas Mayor's race, or the big bond packages.  Are you telling me that people in Plano, Frisco, Allen, Carrollton and the like won't head down to Victory Park once it is completed?  And what about my brothers and sisters, North, South, East, and West, who drive 30, 40, 50 minutes one way into the hood to get their praise and worship on?

Moving to Dallas…Oak Cliff was a personal preference, because I believe much of the work that I am called to do is here.  I believe that all of us are called to do more than go to work, come home, flip on the TV, feed the dog and go to bed.  Especially we as black people owe it to those who came before us to do more than to sit around think that we somehow "overcame."  I can tell you from my experience of driving around the area, if we did overcome, someone forgot to tell my neighbors. 

There have been some negatives no doubt.  My cable internet fails daily.  SBC doesn't even run DSL to this part of town;  Dallas, Texas no less.  I still haven't found a place that I like to buy groceries (save the Kroger in Duncanville).  I do most of my shopping at The Parks in Arlington, any of the numerous Big Box retail shops in Cedar Hill, or the West Village.  I do a fair amount of commerce at Wynnwood Village, but not enough to say I'm a regular. I feel as safe as I did at my last house.  We've seen recently that no quadrant of Dallas-Ft. Worth is free from violent crime. 

This was the right choice for my family and I, and I pray that others would follow.  Those of us, who are here now, must work to make the area more inviting for other families.  With 65% of the record $1.3 billion bond package scheduled to head south, change is on the way, but it won't be sustained unless we stay engaged. 

They say Players Play, and Ballers Ball.  In the same vain, Leaders Lead.  There are more of us out there: more Michael Davis', more Renee Hartley's, and more Craig Watkins'.  For those of you in Plano, Richardson, DeSoto, and Duncanville, who are getting involved and making a difference; God Bless You.  But there is a lot of work to be done, a lot of lives to be changed, and a lot of waves yet to be made in the City of Dallas.

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