So unless you’re hiding under a rock, we all know that Miss Rona has practically cancelled the majority of 2020; to include any type of exotic traveling. Fortunately (depending on what you’re into), this leaves room for the old-school way of traveling: ROAD TRIPS! Under normal circumstances, I would be ‘anti-road trip shawty’. However, it's one of the only safe means of exploring during a global health crisis.
I say all that to say, this past weekend, my dad and I took an 8-hour road trip to Fort Wayne, Indiana; aka the country! My uncle and his family live up there, and normally they’re the ones coming to visit us. No offense, but DC (the Nation’s Capital) has a lot more going on than Fort Wayne in terms of things to do. But given the stress of COVID and the mental heaviness of 2020 in general, it was so nice getting out of the city for a bit.
This was my dad and I’s first ever road trip, so that in itself was special. Miss Rona has definitely underscored the importance of making family memories these days. Anyways, my uncle purchased a lake house at Fox Lake in Angola, Indiana which is incredibly special. We went up there to visit for his annual summer cookout. I don’t know many black people whose uncle has a lake house out of state; lots of special tings going on here! Get this: the property was only $40k and another $30k or so for renovations. His monthly mortgage is $149 and sometimes he pays upwards of $1k towards the mortgage principal just to expedite paying it off & owning more equity quicker. Just to put it into perspective, lake houses in Deep Creek, MD, for instance, can range anywhere between $100k - $3 million; whew! Needless to say, rural living has its PERKS!
Not only did he get a great deal, but Fox Lake is a historically preserved neighborhood due to its ties within the African American community. We forever and always stan for historical ties to our ancestors! During the 1920’s and 30’s, black families couldn’t visit white resorts due to Jim Crow laws. As a result, this area was specifically reserved for and marketed towards black families as one of the few areas in which they could purchase resort-style vacation properties. About 80% of the homes on the lake have been passed down from the past 3-4 generations and kept within the family. Once again, a whole lot of special-ness going on here!
The neighborhood is lit just off the strength that everyone knows everybody and they have a whole council board to make decisions together as a community. Mr. Kevin, my uncle’s neighbor, is highkey the mayor of the lake and knows all the tea on all the properties in the neighborhood. While taking us out on his boat, he kept saying how the neighborhood’s biggest struggle right now is keeping the lake black owned. A lot of white people are starting to buy lots within the neighborhood, risking the Fox Lake legacy.
It's crazy because the idea of lake houses and vacation homes is an idea straight out of a TVLand sitcom. As a black person, I always assumed that idea was only reserved for white families. I’ve been waiting quite some time to be able to say “I’m visiting my uncle’s lake house this weekend”. It’s not something you hear black people say often.
Now I’ll be the first to recognize the black privilege that’s been bestowed upon me and my family. However, black people owning more than one property, especially a vacation home, is not something you encounter often. Despite the rarity, my black family did nothing but talk about real estate and owning property with their black neighbors ALL WEEKEND. My heart was soo incredibly happy. I’m so proud of my uncle for doing something within our family that’s never been done. This lake house automatically creates the opportunity to create lasting memories and family traditions; two things that have become more scared than ever during COVID-19. It also provides a place to escape to for mental health purposes, all the while creating a pattern of generational inheritance.
Overall, this past weekend was filled with a lot of pride and genuine feelings of happiness. I think my family is proud to be carrying on the legacy of Fox Lake. This weekend, I learned that real estate can and should be a topic of conversation among our black family members. Generational inheritance may be new to us as a community, but it’s well deserved and our fundamental right to keep it in the family.