In 2004, City of Asylum/Pittsburgh opened its doors on Sampsonia Way in Pittsburgh’s Northside neighborhood with a specific mission: to provide sanctuary to literary writers who were exiled and under threat of persecution. For two years we provide an exiled writer (and family) with a house, a stipend, and medical benefits, as well as a variety of other assistance such as transportation to the U.S. and an immigration attorney.
The above is from Pittsburgh-based nonprofit City of Asylum’s about page. In the years since their inception, they’ve grown, an expansion that includes Alphabet City—a space that houses a book store, a restaurant, and a stage for live events: jazz shows, book readings, etc. They’ve hosted me and provided books for my launch party last year. In the past year alone, I’ve seen Deesha Philyaw, Yona Harvey, Jaquira Diaz, Brian Broome and many others read there. (Pre-COVID, of course.) And this summer, I also hosted a virtual writers’ series with them.
The building also houses eight apartments.
Alphabet City sits several blocks from where I live. I pass it during the walks I take during the day, to get those 10,000 boring-ass steps in since I can’t hoop anymore. (Fuck COVID.) This picture was taken during my walk yesterday. As you can see, one of the apartments is being rented by a very enthusiastic Trump supporter.
According to this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette piece on Alphabet City, there are two income-restricted apartments on the second floor. The rent for the rest of them ranges from $1,600 to $2,700–which is a lot of money for Pittsburgh. For those prices, you can rent virtually anywhere in the city. (For context, here are all the Pittsburgh apartment listings within that price range on Zillow.)
Basically, if you’re able to pay that much rent in Pittsburgh, you have many attractive options. So this person made an intentional decision to live there, and broadcast—with flags in each street-facing window—their support of a criminal whose existence is the antithesis of City of Asylum’s mission. This is what “owning the libs” looks like, to them. Mission accomplished.
But...those apartments were specifically built to be a revenue stream for City of Asylum’s mission. Which, again, is to provide sanctuary for writers who’ve been exiled from their home countries. So the triflin’ fuck who lives there is actually giving somewhere between $1,600 to $2,700 of their own money each month to help finance, feed, and represent “illegals” from “shithole countries” so they can stay in America as long as they need to.
Anyway, just in case you were ever confused about what Jay-Z meant when he said “y’all niggas hustlin’ backwards,” this is it.