If you ever ask a Bougie Black Person to explain his feelings about gentrification, he will pause, start to speak, pause again, and exhale before saying anything. He may even add a prolonged sigh. And, if lucky, you might even see him roll his sweater sleeves up and put his thumb to his chin.
This will give you the impression that the BBP is carefully choosing his words. Which he is. This subject obviously causes him much ambivalence and consternation. It may have even given him acid reflux. After all, while the BBP may be successful, he’s not very far removed from regular Blacks. A few of his cousins are still in the hood. As well as his barbershop. Naturally, he wants to make certain he answers this question with as much nuance as possible.
He’ll use words like “well” and “actually” and “white motherfuckers.” He may also use words like “displacement” and “Starbucks” and “property tax.” And, although he’s only been to Brooklyn once — and learned much of what he knows about Brooklyn when Mos Def was on Bill Maher — he’ll make sure to use Brooklyn as an example of the ills of gentrification. He may even say something about how they’re “tearing down basketball courts” to “make room for bike lanes and places you buy yoga pants and shit” and he’ll say this with disdain.
Then he’ll say “But…”
And then the truth will come out. He’ll admit gentrification has some benefits. He’ll mention a specific neighborhood, and he’ll talk about how the Whole Foods he buys his crustless quiche and couscous from was a crackhouse seven years ago. It wasn’t, of course. No one needs 20,000 square feet of space to do crack. But he’ll say it.
He’ll also marvel at how safe it’s become, and how “it’s kinda cool” that the restaurants there stay open until midnight now. He might even pull out a double “actually” when admitting he’s “actually thinking about actually moving there.”
He’s sad about this of course. He wishes he didn’t have to move. Really wishes. But, his lease is up soon. And, between the quarterly bar crawls, Donald Glover (who he just saw at Chipotle last week), and that new Target, “there’s just so much happening there” that he can’t help himself.