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Pittsburgh Has Potential

Although a recent trip to Brooklyn made her consider making it her home, Akirah Robinson is slowly falling back in love with Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh and I currently have a love/hate relationship. I love that all my friends and family live close-by, and I love that our mortgage payment is affordable. On the other hand, I hate the lack of diversity here and driving on icy roads in the winter. Simply put, when it comes to Pittsburgh and me, things are little complicated.

Until August, our relationship was one of mutual love. I mean, I’d felt a little wanderlust previously, but that’s normal for me. Usually it only takes a trip somewhere new or a few hours of House Hunters International to get me to snap out of it. In August, however, I visited Brooklyn for a week and didn’t really want to come back. Obviously I did come back because as much as I love Brooklyn, on most days, I love my husband and dog more.

For some reason, when I returned back home, I couldn’t really shake the strong feeling of discontentment. Then, a few weeks later, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published a racist column that basically discredited the devastation and longstanding impacts of slavery. As I read it, I couldn’t believe that I live in the same city where such irresponsible journalism could be published. That column put me in a funk and is a big reason why I started daydreaming about living it up in Brooklyn, Broad City style.

A little over a month ago, I went to the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s latest Gallery Crawl. I had never experienced a Gallery Crawl before and was pretty excited to finally go to my first one. Most of my time was spent at the August Wilson Center, celebrating the opening of Humanae: I AM AUGUST and the center’s recent revival. Between the music, food, and free wine, the energy of that event was electric. When I left to walk down Liberty Avenue and check out other venues, I couldn’t help but feel electric too. My little city, the one I’ve been having such mixed feelings for, was impressing me left and right.

After walking around aimlessly for a bit, I walked right up to what looked like a concert. A massive crowd of people were dancing in front of a stage, and on the stage stood a DJ, who was rocking out to the most infectious music. Above her was a huge sign that said “India in Focus.” The music she was playing sounded so good, I couldn’t stop myself from shaking my hips, just like everyone else in the crowd. I had no clue why Liberty Avenue was closed off to traffic or why a few hundred people were having a dance party in the middle of downtown, but I surely didn’t care. All I knew is that I felt committed to staying until said party ended.

I guess you could say I’m trying to love the one I’m with. And for now, I’m with Pittsburgh.
In my twenty-one years of living here, I have never experienced such a diverse and loving moment in Pittsburgh as I did that evening. I think that’s part of the reason why I couldn’t get myself to leave until the last song. In Pittsburgh, we often talk about Black people and white people, but I saw so much more that night. People of all colors, shapes, sizes, abilities, and backgrounds were having a blast dancing—even though most of them probably couldn’t understand the lyrics. I saw a white family of four dancing right next to a brown family of four, and both families had the same look of ecstasy on their faces. Of course I spent some time savoring the moment and dancing myself, but a lot of the time I just watched the people, in awe that such an event could bring such a diverse crowd together.

I know Brooklyn isn’t the Promised Land. I know the grass always seems greener on the other side, but it rarely ever is. Yes, Pittsburgh has quite a ways to go in many different aspects. I’m reminded of that every time I travel somewhere new that offers more transportation options, more diversity, and more fun stuff to do on the weekends. But sometimes, Pittsburgh surprises me. The Gallery Crawl definitely surprised me and reminded me of what I love about this city. Brooklyn is trendy, but Pittsburgh has potential. Lots of it.

I haven’t looked at New York City’s Craigslist in about two weeks now. I’m daydreaming a little less, too. I guess you could say I’m trying to love the one I’m with. And for now, and the foreseeable future, I’m with Pittsburgh. Thankfully, I’ve been reminded that Pittsburgh has potential. So for now, and the foreseeable future, I’m okay with that.

About the Author

Akirah Robinson is a licensed social worker, writer, and therapist who loves helping women heal. She lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her handsome husband and their hyperactive hound dog, Walker. Her first book, "Respected" was released in November 2014.

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