Shit Bougie Black People Love: #12 Gentrification » VSB

Sh*t Bougie Black People Love

Shit Bougie Black People Love: #12 Gentrification


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.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at Or don't. Whatever.

  • Val

    The thing about gentrification is it is bland. Gentrification takes away the feel and personality of a community. And, usually almost all of the POC. You are left with a community that looks like hundreds of other ones. Basically it makes cities look like boring suburbs.

    • EatLead

      Kind of agree. It would be great if Gentrification could be good for the people that already live in the community, but usually it just shuffles them to the new “less desirable” areas and doesn’t benefit them in any positive ways. The new people move in, they may try to interact with the old, neighborhood blight goes down but housing/rent prices go up and the cycles of poverty continue despite the neighborhood renewal all around. So a BBP might like Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s and the new look of the neighborhood but they’re also going to have to get used to being one of a handful of token BBPs.

      • I totally agree. And DC could not be a better example of this. You see new condos/houses going up on every corner, and all of the people/families that have been there for years have to leave. And they can’t come back because they can’t afford these million dollar condos that have taken the place of Big Momma’s house.

        • panamajackson

          They only have to leave public housing once renovated. Most of the condos that are going up aren’t on old project land. They’re just dilapidated properties. Now a lot of folks do get priced out via their property taxes going up so much. If you’re on a fixed income, a 6k property tax bill might kill you. But a lot of folks are still living in their old neighborhoods if the families own the houses, like in Bloomingdale and LeDroit Park and now the H Street corridor. There’s still a lot of black folks there.

          • Hmmmm…that makes me feel a little bit better. But I’m thinking of the condos that were built right off Suitland Parkway in SE, I think near or on MLK. I feel like some homes (that people were living in) were knocked down.

            • panamajackson

              Sheridan Terrace I think you’re talking about. Those were mostly dilapidated. I’ll tell you what though, I bought a house in an area that used to be projects that were torn down and rebuilt. A lot of them folks moved back. Trust me. LOL.

  • K.

    I’m still on the fence about G…don’t love it, don’t hate it. I think it will take many more years before we can assess the total effect…in Philly anyway.

  • Ms Butterfly

    I’m pro gentrification as long as it creates mixed income neighborhoods. Cities where there are just large amounts of dilapidated property, no business, no fresh food, and no economy aren’t good for anyone. At the very least, bringing the bigger chain stores will bring jobs to the area, and most of these places like “Trader Joes” and “Jamba Juice” pride themselves on hiring people in the community. There needs to be some kind of study that shows what happens to the people who get priced out. It seems like the working class people get pushed more into the outskirts of the area, but not completely out of it.

  • Ty

    It’s funny that the picture used to preface the article is of downtown Brooklyn a traditionally black shopping area now it’s transitioning into the rest of Brooklyn…gentrified and weird. Brooklyn is the epicenter of gentrification I remember growing up Brooklyn was mainly homes and businesses owned by people of color. Now gentrification represents a slow “push out” of the natives

  • Terry Odis

    In Chicago it was a double edged sword. They tore down a lot of projects and renovated a lot of bad neighborhoods, but now those people get Section in 8 in the Black suburbs. Truth be told, WE don’t even like stayin in our OWN hoods. Best believe when the people from the projects moved out to the suburbs, crime rate went up, and even more homes went into foreclosure. As a person with a Master of Architecture, i really feel bad about not having a solution to the type of gentrification that ultimately prices people out of their own neighborhoods.And they can say “mixed income” all they want, but ultimately those neighborhoods swing one way or the other. The issue is clear: MOTIVE. Money is always the bottom line of any development. And if it don’t make dollars, then it don’t make sense. If the intent wasn’t financailly based then there probably wouldn’t be any gentrification. If a few developers came to a neighborhood with intent of building infrastructure within what already exists, then maybe it would be a different story.

  • joebmore

    If you see a white woman jogging in your neighborhood. It’s gone.

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