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What my Nextdoor neighbors don't get about the word 'plantation'

August 1, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

After one of her neighbors posted on Nextdoor calling for the removal of the word "plantation" from their community and an immediate backlash ensued against the proposition (despite the word's deep roots in slavery), Yelena Moroz Alpert says her feelings about where she lived changed, as did her opinions about what White Americans need to do to be allies to Black Americans and other people of color.

Unlike typical Floridian developments with desolate, scorching sidewalks, Haile Plantation lured us with the promise of shade and a sense of community reminiscent of what we had enjoyed most about living in Richmond.

Gainesville isn't clinging to Confederate memorabilia -- a statue honoring Confederate soldiers was removed from downtown in 2017-- but we have plenty of "plantation"-named neighborhoods, like Willow Oak Plantation and Wilds Plantation, all within a short drive.

Haile Plantation, an unincorporated community within the Gainesville city limits, is set up a little like Disney's Magic Kingdom in the sense that it encompasses dozens of seamlessly connected micro-neighborhoods clustered together.

What I deemed a welcoming community when I moved into it (despite its name), feels uncomfortably different to me after someone from my HOA posted on Nextdoor (which groups members into virtual neighborhoods based on their real addresses) about removing "plantation" from Haile Plantation as a consideration toward residents and visitors who are Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC).

While the original post had more than 225 replies from Haile Plantation residents and those in nearby communities, subsequent posts regarding the name change added hundreds more.

One Black woman, who doesn't live in Haile Plantation, but is part of my Nextdoor neighborhood remarked on the original post: "Ask someone that's Black if it's offensive and then comment.

My 11-year-old Black son will not be playing outside or jogging through any neighborhood named a plantation, some people care about this and others have openly stated on this post they don't.

While I admit that without the "plantation" in Haile Plantation, I may have overlooked its history when I moved here, I can understand that not everyone wants a reminder of slavery every time they drive home.

The woman who first posted about changing the Haile Plantation name on Nextdoor is not alone in her endeavor.

At any rate, between tallying surveys and other HOA bureaucracies, the Haile Plantation name change question isn't likely to be answered any time soon.

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