Can Black People Be Gentrifiers? » VSB

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Can Black People Be Gentrifiers?

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While I was not born in the United States, I spent the bulk of my formative years in Harlem. I went to elementary school on the north end of Amsterdam Avenue and middle school on Convent Avenue. While my mom was still getting comfortable speaking English when I was younger, she found solace in the robust community of African immigrants from across the Francophonie that operated in Central Harlem.

Harlem has given me and my family a lot. And for that reason it remains near to my heart, a fact that manifests itself in both small and big ways. My Dipset fandom, while occasionally admittedly a bit overwrought, is sincere and a consequence of living around the infamous Rucker Park neighborhood from 1998 onward. But I also acknowledge as readily as possible that I wouldn’t be where I am today without a lot of hard work, a lot of luck, and the availability of community resources such as Harlem School of the Arts, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Harlem Educational Activities Fund, local chess and after school programs that were plentiful at the time, and even my local library. The common thread of all of these items is that these were all things that my very low-income family could readily consume for free, including the occasional Cam’ron sighting.

With all that said, I moved back to NYC in 2012 for what I had convinced myself would be a short stint. It is now the second half of 2016, and I am currently looking at my lease renewal to continue my fourth year of living in my cozy one bedroom…in Flatbush, Brooklyn.

I love Harlem, but Harlem doesn’t necessarily love me anymore.

My mom still lives in the neighborhood I grew up in, and I visit her most weekends. To be fair, most of that stretch of Harlem hasn’t changed much; that’s mainly a consequence of the proximity to large sprawls of projects with long associations of violence such as the Pologrounds that have served as a deterrent for private developers. Regardless, at least once a month, I stop off on 125th street, or 116th street, or even the western end of 145th street, and recognize less and less square footage that I could once map out with my eyes closed. Hand-pulled noodle shops, custom sushi restaurants, and higher end grocery stores have overtaken what where formerly desolate stretches of Frederick Douglass Boulevard, catering not to the longtime residents of the community, but soliciting a new wave of residents, consumers, and price points; much of which was recently detailed in Michael Henry Adams’ “The End of Black Harlem.”

Dystopian title aside, the article made a good case detailing the erasure of so many core parts of Harlem’s legacy in favor of catering to a more affluent, Whiter, clientele. But one point that struck me was his conclusion, in which he calls back to a greater legacy of Harlem…by celebrating at Red Rooster, an establishment that was opened in 2010 on the premise of “elevated” soul food and precipitated a wave of additional “elevated” Black locales, such as Corner Social, Chocolat, XYZ lounge, and so on.

To put it coarsely, the longstanding community members to whose interests we claim to be interested in defending give less fucks about fancy grits than I do in adhering to a vegan lifestyle. Ultimately, the Black consumer market that this new wave of restaurants is attempting to adhere to is a unique segmentation within the current swath of Black residents in the neighborhood — namely Black urban professionals, generally with a bit more disposable income than lower income counterparts.

This segmentation doesn’t just specifically apply to the notion of “transplants.” While Harlem may be my old stomping grounds, the fact remains that if I were to decline my current lease renewal in favor of trying to find a one-bedroom in my neighborhood, from a realtor perspective, I am a completely different type of consumer than I would have been 10 years ago. As a result, I would get shown different apartments in different neighborhoods, and pushed to different price points.

Does this make me a gentrifier? Some perspectives would say yesand I fully understand the reasoning of coming to that conclusion. On a base level, higher income begets higher rent, and can adversely affect current residents. But accepting that on its face would, in my opinion, completely eliminate any critical context in which we apply the lens of race and urban planning in America. Our understandable need to both label things and leverage terms that we have come into comfort with can, at times, preempt our need to think deeper.

The last few decades have had Black men and women getting educated at increasingly higher rates, which lends itself to increased median incomes and buying power. But in major metropolitan areas, that increase often only equates to a notable but not significant increase in available resources. Structural racism still exists, and depresses the purchasing power of even the Black professionals a few ticks higher in income gradients. It’s not as if the bulk of these social circles can afford to live in Chelsea but are actively choosing to take up space in Harlem, for instance. To a further point, in our 21st century effort to achieve collective wokeness, the desire to have Black enclaves of space where we feel comfortable to be ourselves extends to where we want to reside, and the fact remains that in most urban sprawls, neighborhoods with the higher concentration of Black neighborhoods tend to correlate to a lower median household income. None of this absolves “us” of the impact we may have in the communities we choose to call home, but it does ground and color a conversation that tends to divide residents into either victims or enablers.

As a current Flatbush resident with a income notably above the mean for my neighborhood, this is a fact that I am conscious of and keep in mind when deciding what sort of resident I want to be. I personally made the choice not to be a passive member of my community and engage in a meaningful way. That doesn’t mean that I’m knocking on neighbors’ doors apologizing for accommodating a possibly higher rent than some of my older residents. But it does mean I make a point to patronize local storefronts when I can, respect the traditions and rhythms of the neighborhood, and form honest relationships with my neighbors when organically possible. I’m not saying that I don’t shop at Target, but I do what I can to reinvest in the neighborhood that I currently choose to call home.

So, “Can Black people be gentrifiers?” Yes, if you insist on being lazy with the word. Words are purposeful, intentional, and bear weight and intrinsic context. While these classifications can simplify, I find that they force us to make a choice in situations that there simply isn’t one, ultimately forcing an identification that I don’t necessarily find to be particularly organic or fruitful. The great thing about the English language is that it is by no means a static existence. There is space for it to grow to accommodate more contemporary circumstances that reflect emergent social conditions with the appropriate gravitas. Constricting ourself to the limited taxonomy that we are currently afforded would have prevented intersectionality theory to take flight, after all. And while I am far from a sociologist or academic scholar of any sort, I do think it’s in all of our best interests to think critically of what terms we assign to each other, why we do it, and how we can be more conscious of our general footprints within whatever communities we choose to call home.

 

Shamira Ibrahim

Shamira is a twentysomething New Yorker who likes all things Dipset. You can join her in waxing poetically about chicken, Cam'ron, and gentrification (gotta have some balance) under the influence of varying amounts of brown liquor at her semi-monthly blog, shamspam.tumblr.com

  • I read the article from the Guardian and prior to that I never really thought about the concept of black folks being “pioneers” in black neighborhoods but I sounds very possible. It must be an odd space to find yourself in and the pressure to contribute to the hood would weigh on me.

    *sidenote* How is the food at Red Rooster anyway? I remember reading about it when it opened, seeing Marcus talk to Anthony Bourdain about it, and Eddie Huang’s thoughts on the place but I’ve always wondered if they can burn or not. #Iaintboilthemribs

    • Brandon Allen

      By Morgan Jenkins? It was a good article.

    • I’ve heard mixed reviews about the place. Depends on what you order.

    • IwanttobeaRizpah

      Lisssssen. Red Rooster is all hype. You hear me clear. HYPE!! You just go there for the ambiance. The food is BASIC presented in a luxe manner/ambiance! Some of the drinks doe!!!! I don’t patronize ANY of his establishments to eat, because that fried chicken at Street Bird on 116th is just chicken dipped in hot oil with no seasoning.

      • God Shammgod

        especially for the price point.

        • IwanttobeaRizpah

          giiiiiirl. I show support every now and then because he ma pippoz, otherwise Uh uh. Bringing me undercooked wings with the blood seeping out. Why don’t you bring me a live chicken then.

          • God Shammgod

            sjdoprwerjopwrwpjeorweoprwe

            Samuelsson likes to exist in this romanticized cotton club version of Harlem which…good for him, but I’m just trying to eat, not get an “experience.”

            You tried Lolo’s Seafood Shack next door?

            Also new spot to recommend: Solomon and Kuff on the West side. Recent addition, its a rum house and restaurant. Been there twice and havent been disappointed yet.

            • “romanticized cotton club version of Harlem ”

              Take out the word “Harlem” and I would use your phrase to describe how a lot of older black folks feel about our history on varying levels but today is not the day for that.

            • IwanttobeaRizpah

              My girlfriend tried it, and she loved it. So based on her recommendations, I’m going to go. Never heard of Solomom & Kuff. What kind of cuisine?

              • God Shammgod

                West indian influenced, but not specifically west indian if that makes sense.

                • IwanttobeaRizpah

                  I’ll check it out one of these good days. I’m just weary of any West Indian/Carribean dining options in Harlem. I had a bad experience with a Jamaican spot the one next to Shrine. Jesus.

                  • God Shammgod

                    I’m not West Indian so I don’t speak authoritatively on these things, even if our cuisines but both times I went with West Indian friends and they gave it two thumbs up, if that means anything. But I understand the apprehension.

      • So it’s just high-class chef fluff, huh?

        • God Shammgod

          It’s the cuisine of an ethiopian born, sweden raised, swiss trained man’s interpretation of what soul food is for mainstream consumption.

          • Kas

            I have not been a fan of his food.

          • I see. It sounds about as appealing as taking a cousin to the prom. Possibly criminal and in poor taste.

          • Hammster

            Good to know. I’ll stick with Sylvia’s.

      • You can’t do that to chicken.

  • I’m also very inclusive of black folks so I won’t say yes… but I see where this was going. there’s a space for all of us.

  • I’d much rather support hood businesses where I’m from any day.

    • KMN

      I was just looking at something on Black Wall Street…and talking to a friend of mine about how some towns have their own currency and are able to exchange fed notes for the local notes ($20 fed for $22 for local or whatever)…we need something like that in the black community…

      • Kas

        Excuse me what? What state(s) are people making their own currency?

        • KMN

          I’m going to have to do a google search…But I was watching this show on the history channel and local towns were printing their own currency…give me a second and i’ll find it for you

        • KMN

          Just did a search here’s a list from Wikipedia with all of the states with the towns/cities/parishes/etc that print their own currency:
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_community_currencies_in_the_United_States

          • Question

            Those read more like “gift certificates” than actual currency, but I get the point.

        • There were 13 who tried it back in the day but the way Uncle Ab’s pimp hand worked…

        • Question

          Yea, isnt that illegal…?

          • Kas

            Not only that, but why would anyone want to do that?

            • kingpinenut

              companies used to do it all the time back in the day…

              #monopoly.money

        • Epsilonicus

          Baltimore has the Bnote

    • I mean that’s cool. There isn’t a lot of a diversification in the businesses though. Only so much Caribbean food I can eat every week. What if I want to buy some books? Outside of the library that’s open like 4 hours for 3 days a week I can’t get that.

      • I order books online so I feel you…but we aren’t supporting black businesses like we should.

    • Brandon Allen

      It depends on what type of hood business. Restaurants, corner stores are cool. Clothing? Naw.

      • Lol… depends.

      • Question

        No. I’m tired of corner stores and BBQ joints/chicken shacks. And no more hair salons either.

        • Brandon Allen

          I’m not with hair salons…but what other time of hood businesses are there? Most private businesses are like that.
          There’s chains that cater to the hood. Every hood has a MetroPCS, HR Block/Liberty/ and a McDonalds.

          Maybe other ones can take a leap.

          • Question

            Hood-catering establishments are fine.

    • Hammster

      True but it depends on the quality of service.

  • Ste

    Definitely, but Gentrification is not only a housing and restaurant issue, it also involves amenities like supermarkets, public transportation, police services, access to banks.

    • Ess Tee

      Your last sentence is partly why I have such trouble with the question “Can Black people be gentrifiers?”. Or, rather, why I can’t answer yes with assurance. Is the money that higher income Black people make (i.e., the taxes that we’re also paying) spurring the introduction of these services and amenities in neighborhoods that have a relatively larger Black population? Or is mainly when White denizens with their income move in do the resources make an appearance?

      • Brandon Allen

        It’s people starting private businesses first. Then, the chains and resources come.

      • Question

        But we’re missing the middle – you have no idea what was done to move these things into White neighborhoods. I lived in the South Loop of Chicago and saw my neighbors, for 2 years (little did I know they started 3 years earlier) to get Trader Joe’s into the neighborhood. They found out how TJ’s makes location decisions, conducted the feasibility studies and contacted TJ’s monthly until 6 years later, it happened.

        • Zil Nabu

          Hey!! I used to live in the South Loop too! I LOVED that Trader Joes! I want them in my neighborhood. I’m gonna start making some calls.

          • Question

            I moved out of the South Loop a MONTH before that TJ’s opened. Salty I tell you.

        • T.Q. Fuego

          See, I respect that and black folks always leave that part out of the conversation when it’s the most important, interesting, and potentially empowering detail. You’d be surprised how much the system can work for you when you figure out how to make it work with/for you.

    • Jacqueline

      Bingo!

    • TheVilleintheA

      What Ste said. My reference is Atlanta, I’ll focus on the Cascade Neighborhood. It’s not Gentrified in that there was a “lower’ economical class living there previously. Many Blacks who live there are house wealthy and probably have just as much in their bank account as citizens in Sandy Springs. However, I’d like for you to visit Cascade then hop over to Sandy Springs and you’ll see a big difference. Gentrification would be what happened to the Kirkwood and Candler Park Neighborhoods there maybe some buppies who live there but yuppies are changing it.

      • Jay

        Castleberry Hill… East Atlanta… it’s even edging towards Bankhead

        • IwanttobeaRizpah

          ????????!!

        • TheVilleintheA

          If I see a Starbucks on Bankhead/Donald Lee Hollowell Pkwy I will head to Tower Package, buy some OE, and pour in the spot Bowen Homes use to be in.

        • Lea Thrace

          My heart breaks for Castleberry Hill. Cause when it first was on the come up, the gentrifiers were black folk who were trying to keep its character. All these wonderful art studios and restaurants and boutiques that had OUR soul. And then rents went up. And the Dome happened. And now its going and gone. And Im sad.

          Also, *waves* Hey Jay!

    • Question

      Why don’t the amenities that follow white people not also follow blacks? The reasons why Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods don’t move into Black neighborhoods are different, and different from why public transportation, healthcare services and educational services don’t move into Black upper middle class.

      • Brandon Allen

        What black upper middle class areas are you talking about? Rarely do actual government services move to the fringes. It depends on what kind of city you’re talking about.

        • Question

          Nah, no fringes. Baldwin Hills/Ladera Heights is not fringe – 15 minutes to LAX, 15 minutes to Century City, 15 minutes to Downtown LA, 15 minutes to Santa Monica (all assuming no traffic).

          • Brandon Allen

            I was thinking you were gonna say Baldwin Hills/Ladera. Now, I’m not going to act like I have an understanding of the school districts over there or the health care. But I do know that area is more or less geographically separated from Crenshaw and “South LA”. Which is a intraracial class war thing anyway. I know for public transport, Baldwin Hillers need to come down and get on at that new station by Walmart.

            • Question

              Schools – bad (because public schools are based on real estate taxes, which are based on real estate purchase prices NOT current value).

              Healthcare – bad but improving. Kaiser is building a giant health facility behind the Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw mall.

              Retail – changing, quickly. Westfield bought the Fox Hills Mall and rebranded it “Westfield Culver CIty”. Westfield is currently in a bidding war with Trammel Crow to buy the Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw Plaza.

              • Brandon Allen

                I been in “Westfield Culver City” how was it when it was just Fox Hills?

                • Question

                  Different. They brought in better retail anchors (Best Buy, Target, Nordstrom Rack) but the demographics of the area haven’t). But the Fox Hills Mall was never “hood”.

                • BlueWave1

                  It was a “black” mall before. By that I mean the vast majority of the people who frequented the mall were black. The shops catered to black patrons. It was basically an upscale, but still black mall. I used to hang out there in the late 90’s as a teen. Now, its very different. And that change in the mall is moving further east. I fully expect west Inglewood, Ladera, and Baldwin Hills to gentrify. Inglewood is almost a given with the new Rams stadium development on deck.

        • Sigma_Since 93

          this ties directly to my point I stated somewhere on today’s blog. I strongly doubt that developers can sell projects knowing that ninjas can live next door. At a minimum, you’ll get a park and ride.

      • lunanoire

        Yep, I went to a planning meeting about the Expo Rail in 2002. It took YEARS for black people and groups in to-be-impacted communities to get involved, including a community activist who is a lawyer who often touts his Harvard degree. The 2nd half of the rail line opened in May 2016.

      • Barryfromkenya

        They follow the money-end of story. Green is the only color that matters to them.

    • kingpinenut

      Good article – thanks for sharing. Glad to know I’m not crazy.

    • Mortal Man

      When we’re talking about gentrification, we’re also talking about redlining, gerrymandering, and other insidious practices that make black ghettos economically and politically crippled. Your homes are colonies for the American machine until they want your land; centuries of historical practice make it easy for them to take your house from under your feet.

      Coates’ other work is required and lengthy reading. Give it an afternoon:

      “The Case for Reparations”- http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/the-case-for-reparations/361631/

      “The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration” – http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/10/the-black-family-in-the-age-of-mass-incarceration/403246/

    • Barryfromkenya

      Oh, so is gentrification good then? Do you want all those amenities or not?

      • Ste

        Barry,
        Quality public services should be available whether the people living in the neighborhood no matter the income level or racial makeup.

        • Barryfromkenya

          Of course they should, but the author is talking about private companies

    • Barryfromkenya

      Sounds like a great opportunity for you to start a business

  • Brandon Allen

    Yes black people can be gentrifiers. I’m a gentrifier and I know it. Basically, what’s happens is that you want to be around other black people but you want a starbucks. Its double consciousness and talented tenth stuff reincarnated.

    Especially, in metro areas.

    Especially, when you’re young and not bound.

    It’s hard to be a part of the community…when you’re really not.

    • MrsT

      I am also a gentrifier. I live in an Indianapolis neighborhood that was known as ‘Dodge City’ (as in dodging bullets) in the late 80s & early 90’s. Thanks to continued growth built on HUD funded revitalization grants in the early ought’s the home across the street from us sold for $500K last year. The homes brought the amenities and they keep growing, but the original residents are/have been pushed out to the suburbs. There are other “new” black (not that kind of “new”) families in the earlier phases of our neighborhood, but none on our street that aren’t original residents. And we do often feel like we are a part of the community, but really not. We’re planning to sell in the next couple of years and I have only half joking insisted to my husband that we need to find an agent who’s willing to reverse red-line.

      • KNeale

        But what part of that makes you the gentrifier? Genuine confusion around an interesting topic. I keep hearing folks say someone is a black gentrifier simply if they are a black person living in a neighborhood that is being gentrified/is already gentrified and is middle class. Is it just the class part?

        • Me

          Thank you for this. Gentrification is not simply living in an upper class area; it’s buying into a lower class area with the explicit intent of turning it into something more palatable to upwardly mobile people. Black gentrifiers would be black people who have the disposable income and the wherewithal to identify communities that they can invest in on the low low, make a few key changes, and increase property values within the next 10 years through the sheer might of their investment. These would be black people who are extremely engaged in their local politics and neighborhood associations. They would have to specifically set out to be change agents, not mere residents. Gentrification doesn’t happen without grunt work and foresight. If all you did was change your address, you’re not gentrifying, you’re just relocating.

          • Sigma_Since 93

            “They would have to specifically set out to be change agents, not mere residents.”

            This is a key element right here.

    • wakakaja

      My alma mater is in a bad neighborhood, but it owns all the land and is slowly attempting to make a ‘college town’ out of it. One white person I worked with who was familiar with the area said, ‘All that neighborhood needs is a starbucks and then the crime’ll go down because people will invest in it.’ And I agreed… but then I started to wonder about that local business in the plaza that’s frequently robbed and is a hotbed of crimes. It always contributes to my school’s causes and donates to our clubs and allows fundraising. If a starbucks were to move in, so would a Ledo Pizza and a YoLaVie yogurt shop, and so on and so forth until everything’s priced out. My school already built a chick fil la on the premises, so it’s only a matter of time.

      • Jacqueline

        “All that neighborhood needs is a starbucks and then the crime’ll go down because people will invest in it.”

        Well, that theory did not hold true for Yvonne Nelson of Chicago (may she rest in peace)

        http://abc7chicago.com/news/woman-fatally-shot-outside-starbucks-in-bronzeville/1348319/

        When a neighborhood is all black, you will find that the residents have varying incomes.

      • Sigma_Since 93

        All that neighborhood needs is a starbucks and then the crime’ll go down because people will invest in it.’

        Provided that the Starbucks and the other trappings are planning to work with and hire from the community like Magic Johnson has been doing.

        • You know, i don’t think working there is enough if i can’t eat for free. or if they tore my house down to build it.

          • Sigma_Since 93

            That’s all in the planning; did you compensate the displaced or did you use some obscure law not to? Does your plan include affordable housing? Are you working with the community to be a part of the community or do your actions stunt being woven into the fabric of the community?

      • Brandon Allen

        What’s your alma mater?

      • RagesAgainstMachines

        FAMU? Nevermind, Tallahassee is already a “college town” lol. Just not the area by FAMU.

      • BmoreLikeLA

        Morgan State?

        • kingpinenut

          Yeah…it’s a whole new world on the west side.

          • Epsilonicus

            UMD is.going MLK and moving west. But that part of westside always had a decent number of white people. I’m not surprised they are changing it

        • Epsilonicus

          The city is making it hard for Morgan to be the kind of developer that Hopkins and UMD are.

          • BmoreLikeLA

            I’m a Coppin grad myself. Love my school, but have always looked at awe at Morgan’s transformation over the past 8 years since I’ve been here. Coppin is trying…the new science center looks amazing. But we don’t have the alum network and NO ONE is buying into the neighborhood. I wish us both luck, though. And working on my investment ideas

            • Epsilonicus

              Coppin area has a community development corporation. However, it has been mismanaged for years. I think it is in better hands today but folks are leery of giving them money. Coppin definitely could be an anchor institution over west. Just need to start off by getting students to stay in the community.

              • BmoreLikeLA

                Not eem going to pretend I’ve been to one of the meetings, but one of my girlfriends use to be heavily involved. I just never saw anything coming from them, except a peacewalk through the neighborhood when Dale Dunn was shot. I’m going to have to give them a chance, though. If we could get more grad programs, I think students might consider staying. But that’s a whole ‘nother story

          • CC

            So are the neighborhood associations. For the life of me I dont understand why ppl are against the redevelopment of northwood plaza.

            • Epsilonicus

              Northwood been “aint ish” for the longest. It needs to be redone.

    • Double consciousness is real man.

      • Question

        Crux. And I wish we would talk more about it because this double consciousness is going to have huge ramifications for poor Blacks over the next generation…and a lot of it, good/bad/indifferent, is going to be shaped by people like us – upwardly mobile Gen X/Y/Mill Blacks.

        • Brandon Allen

          Do upwardly mobile people really care about poor people? Also, upwardly mobile people can afford to not be a group. Which hampers the mobilization effort.

          • Question

            You asked a question there, and that’s what we need to be talking about.

            I think we are about other Blacks and because there are a number of Blacks that are poor, by default, we care about the poor. But we care about them from an arm’s distance – we want to see them have a fair shot, but we don’t want that fair shot to come at the expense of the amenities and quality we can afford. Does what I typed make any sense?

            Example: I’m a new parent. I want poor kids to have access to good schools. And if the school is good, I’d happily send my kid to a “poor” school. But if providing my child(ren) with a good education means I have to block out some poor kids, I’ll do it in a heart beat without blinking an eye. Why?

            Because I have to put on my oxygen mask first before assisting others…

            • Kas

              All of this.

            • Brandon Allen

              Good poor school? What’s that?

              • Question

                I meant good schools in “poor” neighborhoods a la Bronx Science.

                • Brandon Allen

                  And then the start busing in the rich kids right outside of the projects like they’re doing in LES in NY.

                  • Question

                    This makes me think about something folks brought up in one of the political threads – as a community, we’re focused on the wrong end of politics. Congressional races, school board, state attorney general and district attorneys have far more impact on our lives as Black folks than Presidential, Senatorial and Gubanatorial races.

                    That bussing isht happens because when white folks hear about good schools, they make a stink to get access … or deny access depending on whether they live in said school’s local community.

                    • Kas

                      Related, Republicans have figured this out. Democrats not so much.

                    • Definitely true. Black folk, particularly Black folk with money, are sadly disengaged from local politics. The drama in Ferguson, MO, was a classic example, but it happens all over.

                    • Question

                      I don’t know that I agree with this. Which black folks with money are you talking about? Because the older I get and the more people I meet, the more I’m seeing Black folks engaged in politics from the sidelines. In my neighborhood, folks are holding meetings about Congressional, DA and School Board races. They hosted Obama fundraisers and have hosted Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton fundraisers (the $20K a plate joints).

                      It seems to be that Black folks with money tend to work behind the scenes – which makes sense when you think about it…

                • God Shammgod

                  I’m a Bronx Science alum – I don’t think that this would be the equivalent answer here, due to several factors – namely the test retired to get in, but a whole host of other things that make a seemingly equitable system not quite so…I think a comparable example would be open enrollment public high schools that specialize in strong programs specifically, like A Phillip Randolph in Harlem with Engineering

      • NipseysKlub

        We want to be able to talk about intersectionality and police brutality over artisanal pizza with arugula with the sweet sounds of Rihanna and Future coming through the speakers. Can we have it all?

    • KNeale

      i’m genuinely confused. Connect wanting to be around black people and wanting a starbucks to gentrification. Who is bringing in the starbucks?

      • kingpinenut

        starbucks

        and only in white conclaves….

        lazy folks will hit dunkin donuts if they have to go too far

        • Epsilonicus

          There was a study of Starbucks,Whole Foods and gentrification. Something like over 90% of all those 2 stores are in majority white neighborhoods. They don’t come in until population has hit a tipping point. We don’t create that demand.

          • Blueberry01

            We never have….they don’t value our presence until we physically threaten theirs.

      • Brandon Allen

        I’m confused about your confusion.

    • Speaking of double consciousness- once we acknowledge that we are gentrifiers too, how much can we contribute to the debate against white gentrifiers? We are doing something very similar. I guess the argument can be that the corporates like Starbucks etc aren’t following- they’re following them.

      • Brandon Allen

        I don’t debate anyone about gentrification itself cuz that’s gonna happen. It’s more about how you move within a community when you’re there which some white and black people have a problem doing with respect.

        • I debate it, it comes up sometimes. Not necessarily against it though because I think when it comes to gentrification, like most money matters, the markets will dictate what happens. Like you said, its gonna happen. One of my favourite guys- Spike Lee- is always ranting against it though, it’s interesting to listen to

          • Epsilonicus

            Except gentrification is not a “natural” market activity. It is one that happens because gov’t creates the subsidies for developers.

            • To some extent, you are right but almost everything that happens in this ‘free market’ has some sort of government push via subsidies/ taxes/ kickbacks- so probably hardly anything is a ‘natural’ market activity. Just a market activity.

              • Epsilonicus

                But it takes a lot more gov’t activity for gentrification to happen than many other economic activities. Some other stuff would happen even without kickbacks. Gentrification aint one of them

                • Out of interest- wouldn’t the government subsidies come after the first gentrifiers have decided to start moving into a new area? i.e. it doesn’t start with subsidies. It starts with the young, trendy & monied professionals who follow the artists, pushing prices up. Governments and developers then capitalise on that trend with subsidies. So the market move is only perpetuated by govt, not started by them…. but thats enough I suppose

                  • Epsilonicus

                    Nope. It almost always starts with government subsidies. In the background tax incentives are created, specialized arts/business/cultural districts established, etc that make it so that the first wave wants to move in.

                    • Gbadebo

                      …and that is why involvement in local government is so important. The local city council here has the power to implement some of those tax breaks, incentives, etc. It’s up the the local communities to pressure those elected to do these things on favor of lower income communities…. because there is no way they’ll do it on their own.

                    • Gbadebo

                      And the fight is long and hard (phrasing). Local officials will do everything in their power to step in your way and maintain the status quo.

                    • Epsilonicus

                      No pressure, no action.

                    • And sometimes, it’s not even tax incentives that explicitly target gentrification. I know in NYC, tax breaks for general neighborhood help get leverages by people with means.

      • Mortal Man

        You are doing nothing similar. The wealth gap between whites and blacks is so large and odious that it ensures that when you are talking the language of home ownership and equity that you are speaking to each other in different tongues.

        Whites generally have 16 times more wealth than Black families, so they are able to afford and gentrify at a much rapid rate than Black people are. You buying a brownstone in Harlem is different from a white family doing the same, plus buying several other brownstones and building businesses that do not hire from the local community. The wealth gap also means that, as a middle class black family, they can quickly and consistently price you out of the neighborhood you thought you were gentrifying.

    • jackiegage

      Yes. This is exactly how I feel as a non-native New Yorker now living in Harlem. It’s frustrating that I came here to find a part of myself and my cultural identity, only to see that this area may not necessarily want a part of me…

  • Sigma_Since 93

    I would not call us gentrifiers per se, I would agree that the amenities private developers are providing in their developments are in line with what many are looking for now that we’ve come up:

    Large closets
    full kitchens
    on site laundry
    door man service

    These places / spaces may be in Harlem but not next to the bodega we bought quarter waters from or your favorite fish spot.

  • Rastaman

    That’s what we were called by the white base head who lives next door when we moved into our Bed Stuy block, gentrifiers. He preceded that comment with “you people” which led me to almost catching a case. I would like to think my investing in an up and coming real estate market at a good time is not something reserved solely for white people. Because the people who think that are part of the problem and not part of the solution. Too many of us run from our neighborhoods at the first opportunity without having any foresight. Then we are all bitter that white folks bought up everything. The folks who made money in my Bed Stuy neighborhood are the black folks who stuck it out for decades and were able to reap the rewards of selling their home for six figures.

    • Sigma_Since 93

      “I would like to think my investing in an up and coming real estate
      market at a good time is not something reserved solely for white people.”

      That’s a catch 22; was the developer developing with you in mind or was the only color that mattered to them was green.

      There’s also something to be said for having lived in the up and coming neighborhood before it was hot, having complaints for better resources that went unheard until the developer money came in. If I lived through that cycle, I’d be hot

    • IwanttobeaRizpah

      Omg! Rastaman!! Nice to c ur posts.

  • Medium Meech

    I don’t think so. When I think of gentrification I think of hard working middle class black people moving into urban areas and perusing jobs and the American dream like all the immigrants this nation was built on and white people moving out of the neighborhoods and taking the tax base and social resources needed to support a community with them to the suburbs. I think about those same black people being denied government and union jobs that served as a bridge to prosperity for the next generation for those same immigrants. I think about the oppressive police state that people are just now acknowledging holding those neighborhoods down.

    And after black people were concentrated in urban areas in city after city and denied the societal means and support for better lives through discriminatory housing practices, denial of municipal resources and lack of access to jobs, those communities that started as aspirational working class neighborhoods not surprisingly got worse over time. Instead of trying to fix the problems they created, they tear down the projects and sell it to developers at cut rate prices. They build new schools that keep the black kids out, white businesses and condo buyer profit from the community turning around.

    But the members of the community, the original recipient of those violent neighborhoods don’t see a dime of that profit. They just lose the homes they made due with because no one wanted to be around them are now desirable by the same people that put them there. That’s the tragedy of gentrification.

    • All of what you said is what pisses me off. It’s like hosting dinner at somebody’s house, and they can’t even sit at the table. then when everyone leaves, you make them do the dishes. then you kick them out.

    • God Shammgod

      I think that’s the brute force impact of it; and I don’t deny that . But just like racism, there’s the virulent strain, but also that smaller, more pervasive ways it may affect those residents’ day to day lives, and while it may feel like different magnitudes to *us* it can impact those residents all the same. I think there’s space to discuss that as well as call out the disenfranchisement you’re detailing here.

      • Medium Meech

        It’s like racism vs prejudice. Take the city I live in now, Chicago; ground zero of redlining, the place where MLK marched against racist housing practices, the place where all the crime your read about is concentrated in a couple of neighborhoods, you cant separate gentrification from urban planning because or institutional racism because they are all the same thing. THE Cabrini green projects were torn down and replaced mostly with condos and the obligatory Whole Foods and Target. The completely unshady Developers and incorruptible Chicago politician made money and a number of other non-blac businesses made money, and the city got rid of a problem it literally manufactured.

        So what happens with the extra tax revenue? Reinvest in black communities? Na, they “have” to close the schools down because there aren’t enough kids left in the neighborhood to support the ones they shipped off via imminent domain. Kids have to walk further in more dangerous neighborhoods.

  • Hugh Akston

    I get what the author is saying and somewhat agree. Nevertheless it would be good to start off with a good definition of what the author perceived as gentrification. (Though I’m sure most of us have a more agreeable definition with some minor differences.)

  • I always wondered what the mindset of the “pioneers” black, white, or otherwise was. I’ve been in Charleston since ’97 and the set up here was weird. It was nothing to have a multi-million dollar house catty-corned from government housing but the wave of gentrification gradually moved up local streets that contained business (R.I.P Alice’s Fine Foods) and that gave way to trendy restaurants, bars, and other sh*t.

    It got real when actual residential streets that doubled as thoroughfares off the peninsula like Cannon and Spring started getting more white with more white ish like cupcake shops. I couldn’t help but wonder if these folks wherever the city ever talked to their neighbors or merely tolerated them until more “pioneers” showed up.

    • brothaskeeper

      Is Juanita Greenberg’s still there?

      • Oh yeah. I think it may be the longest running business on that part of King St at the moment.

    • Hammster

      You can really see the gentrification happening in Charleston. I’m seeing Meeting street and upper King (areas that used to be hood) change almost overnight.

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