Category Archives: gentrification

H Street, by Alex Barth on Flickr

More Than a New Starbucks: On Gentrification and Domestic Violence

 

We’ve had many conversations about gentrification on Racialicious, mostly focusing on the race and class drivers.

However, there are a multitude of ways to think about the impacts of gentrification and the long term results of a gentrification project aren’t always simple to quantify by our usual measures. We can point to displacement or economic growth, but what about unintended consequences?

A cold knot of dread took root in my stomach as I read a recent headline from the DCist: “D.C. Sees Increase In Homicides Connected To Domestic Violence.”

D.C. has seen a troubling increase this year in the number of homicides that appear to be connected to domestic violence, an issue Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier addressed in an interview yesterday.

“If you’re in an abusive relationship, the biggest problem is that people don’t think it will turn fatal,” she said on WTOP. “We’re seeing more than a double increase in domestic violence murders, not just of women … but children, as well.”

In analyzing the rise in both calls to police and actual homicides, the writer includes this very interesting side note:

Survivor access to long-term affordable housing is also key. Last year, local providers were unable to fulfill 52 service requests from victims, a 24 percent decrease from 2012. The vast majority of these requests — 77 percent — were for housing.

“Many victims are forced to stay because they don’t have access to housing,” Cottman said. “Either be homeless, or stay and be victimized.”

The knot in my stomach grew worse, so I tweeted the article. My friend Zeynep responded “Abused women can’t afford to move out.”

That was true, but I couldn’t figure out why the article caused such a strong reaction.

Then I remembered: that was me, almost 10 years ago. Continue reading

rama3

The Anarchy of Gentrification & Art Resistance

By Guest Contributor Rama Musa, cross-posted from Global Griot

The city of Houston is buzzing with conversations about the social role of art in neighborhood revitalization.

On Dec. 3, 2013, the Texan-French Alliance for the Arts (TFAA) co-organized “Think Thank: Arts, Identity and Urban Revitalization” at the Rothko Chapel. On Jan. 24 – 25, Project Row Houses  organized “Social Practice, Social Justice,” a two-day symposium on art as an agent of social justice.

These discussions prompted John Guess Jr., CEO of the Houston Museum of African American Culture  (HMAAC), to ask, “[In the onslaught of gentrification], how do community-based arts organizations transform the behavioral change of the people, provide a space for transcendence, and offer scholarship for the spirit?” Houston’s Project Row Houses  and Rebuild Foundation  in Chicago are two nonprofits whose radical social art projects have benefited from, and served as the last frontier against, rapid gentrification in African American neighborhoods.
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Meanwhile, On TumblR: Bed-Stuy, Tupac, And Azealia Banks

By Andrea Plaid

Usually, this review spotlights an item or two that the R’s Tumblizens have been checking out/liked/reblogged during the week.

This week, though? Let’s just say that folks were feeling quite a few of the posts, starting with one about some mystery posters appearing in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood.

Racism Still Exists poster, via Colorlines.

Racism Still Exists poster, via Colorlines.

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Racialicious Crush Of The Week, Facing Race Edition: Yvonne Yen Liu

By Andrea Plaid

Yvonne Yen Liu. Photo: courtesy of the interviewee.

Like I mentioned at the Facing Race roundtable yesterday, the “No Justice, No Peas” panel left a deep impression on me because it addresses what otherwise great food-movement documentaries like Food, Inc. and Forks Over Knives sometimes touch on but tend to erase entirely: the food workers of color who do the incredible work of bringing the food–both organic and non-organic–to USians’ palettes and gullets and how deeply economic exploitation and racial injustice not only affects their lives but the lives of their families and neighborhoods. (The Storified version of the panel is here.)

Pretty prescient and very relevant, considering the current fast-food workers strikes.

I just had to vibe with the panel’s brilliant and passionate facilitator, Yvonne Yen Liu, who’s the outgoing Senior Research Associate at the Applied Research Center (the people who bring you the Facing Race conference and Colorlines) and the incoming Director of the Global Movements at WhyHunger. We chatted about not only how she found her way to food justice but also how that issue intertwines with race, racism, sexism, and labor justice, and how one journalist cluelessly said that the food movement isn’t a social justice issue.

I know. I know. Read on…

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PSY’s “Gangnam Style” And “Gangnam Oppa” In “Architecture 101” (1)

By Guest Contributor Jea Kim (aka Onsemiro), cross-posted from My Dear Korea

  1. What the Heck Is Gangnam Style?

PSY finally set the world on fire with a song, Gangnam Seutail (강남스타일, “Gangnam Style”), written and performed by himself. The song is the title track of his sixth studio album, Yukgap (육갑), which can be interpreted two ways: (i) the word originally  means “the sexagenary cycle;” but (ii) it is mostly used in a derogatory way as meaning “a total retard.”  However, PSY chose this word to express his hope that his sixth (육(六), “six”) album would be the best (갑(甲), “best”). He made a wish and his wish came true.  In fact, the song turned out to be a greater success than he had hoped; it became an instant YouTube, and iTunes hit upon its release and also has immediately become a worldwide phenom.  And people are beginning to wonder what the heck is “Gangnam style.”

Generally speaking, “Gangnam” is the south of the Han River in Seoul while “Gangbuk” is the north of the river, in which gang means “river” (that is, the Han River); nam is “south,” and buk is north.  More specifically, though, it refers to the areas that include Gangnam-gu and Seocho-gu districts as seen below.  (Note that Songpa-gu can be considered to be part of Gangnam in a broader sense.)
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Reflections On “The Rise Of Asian Americans,” Or, Don’t Believe Hype

By Guest Contributor Esther Wang, cross-posted from her Facebook page

Courtesy: multiculturalfamilia.com

Thirty years ago in June of 1982, a Chinese American man named Vincent Chin was murdered in Detroit by two men who were angry and fearful about the decline of the US auto industry and the economic rise of Japan, and 20,000 Chinatown garment factory workers in New York City–almost all Chinese immigrant women–went on strike, after factory owners refused to budge over cuts in benefits and services.

These were seminal moments for Asian Americans, and galvanized a wave of organizing and activism in the US by and for working-class Asian Americans that continues to this very day.

A few months later in 1982, I was born in a hospital in San Antonio, Texas, to two Chinese immigrant parents who had come to the US as part of the Taiwanese “brain drain” that accelerated in the 1970s, after the US government loosened its nativist immigration laws in 1965 and prioritized students and other educated workers.

And just this past week, on two separate occasions, I was asked, “How long have you lived in this country?” and told, “Go back to China.”

All of this (which is to say, the personal that is political and the political that is personal) was on my mind as I read the Pew Center’s new report, “The Rise of Asian Americans.” In it, the Pew Center details the growth of Asian communities over the past forty years, focusing on the six largest Asian ethnic communities; their median incomes, educational attainment levels, and immigration status; and the social mores that Pew deemed were most relevant when trying to understand Asian communities.

Like many commentators have already written (see here and here), the report grossly simplifies a diverse and complicated community and, more destructively, feeds into the myth that Asians in the US succeed by dint of hard work and cultural values brought over from our homelands (despite Pew’s own research, buried in the last chapter of the report, that showed Asians overwhelmingly favor a larger government that provides more services).

This is not to say there weren’t some interesting nuggets in the report, or that many of their facts were incorrect–what concerns me and others are the conclusions that were drawn by the writers and researchers at Pew, and how those ideas can and unfortunately will be used by others in the service of their own political projects. What is troubling is how reports like these feed into the dominant lens of how all of us, including Asian Americans ourselves, view our communities, and understand the politics of race – and therefore how power operates – in the US.

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Gentrification and City Planning

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak in front of an international group of city planners on gentrification in DC and surrounding areas. Many thanks to Frank Justice for the invite – this is an amazing and exciting opportunity. Here is my slide deck:

The idea behind this presentations was to start framing the conversation around gentrification differently, and start this thinking at the inception of the planning process. How do we create a more just and equitable living environment? How do we design with intention? How do we ensure that everyone gets to enjoy the benefit of increased prosperity in a given area? I co-paneled with Peter Taitan of the Urban Institute, who provided stats about historical changes in the DC population – and had the fun job of explaining the concept of “white flight” after looking at the dramatic fall in DC’s white population from 1960-1980.

The coolest part were the countries represented: Bhutan, Cambodia, Egypt, Finland, India, Lesotho, Macedonia, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, New Zealand, Slovak Republic, Sweden, Trinadad and Tobago, Turkey, and Vietnam.

The questions were insightful and fascinating, as all of the attendees tried to understand how American governments allowed gentrification and displacement to happen. There was also a conversation (though all too short) on gentrification’s unintended consequences, since it has a very positive connotation in some fields. I learned that Egypt is staring down the barrel of a housing crisis that mirrors issues with long-time residents and property taxes, and that DC could probably learn a lot from India’s ideas on making the law match social will. I also learned that America’s regionalism is really puzzling to other nations – I never had to think through things like WHY every state and local government has different policies around housing and urban development and quite a few of the questions (like what are the national needs around housing) had me stumped. So all in all, an excellent conversation.

One thing I wish I had time to go into more was the Kirwan Institute’s discussion on opportunity mapping. The paper/presentation looks at neighborhoods as more than just residential or commercial use, and into the idea that neighborhoods are clusters of opportunity. I’ll try to do a full write up on this next week, as I’ve alluded to the report a few times over the past year, but never committed to a full write up.

Strongly Recommended Reading: The Kirwan Institute’s Paper on “Opportunity Mapping: Mapping the Geography of Opportunity for Public Interest Advocacy

Selected Conversations on Gentrification:

On The Rapid Gentrification of DC
The Gentrification Shuffle
The Gentrification Shuffle, Redux: Rebranding Anacostia
Gentrification has Nothing to Do with White Hipsters
More Notes on Gentrification
Another Perspective on Gentrification
I Colonize

And our full archive on gentrification is here.

The Effects of Gentrification on Food Availability

By Guest Contributor Erika Nicole Kendall, cross-posted from A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss

It’s hard to navigate New York City with someone who lived his whole life there, without them mentioning “gentrification” at least once.

Lucky me, I didn’t get it once. I got it at least once… a day.

While my time in Cleveland as a kid was spent in areas that could’ve seriously benefit from the privilege that the gentry (those who do the gentrifying) brings with it, my home in Indiana? Let’s just say that it’s highly unlikely that it’d ever need more money to come in. Needless to say, my experiences with gentrification are pretty non-existent.

But what is gentrification? It is, in a nutshell, when money (or perceived money, which is more important than the actual money, to me) moves in. I used to assume that it was about race, much like this guy:

“I used to think it was about race — when white people moved into a black neighborhood,” said lawyer Charles Wilson, 35, who lost to Marion Barry in the 2008 Ward 8 D.C. Council race. “Then, I looked up the word. It’s when a middle-class person moves into a poor neighborhood. And I realized: I am a gentrifier. I couldn’t believe it. I don’t like that word. It makes so many people uncomfortable.”

“Actually, I thought it was if you see a white guy in Anacostia, listening to an iPod, jogging or walking a dog!” joked Sariane Leigh, 33, who writes a blog called Anacostia Yogi, putting her hand on her hip and waving a sweet-potato fry for emphasis.

The friends fold into laughter. They agree not to use the G-word, at least for one night.

Gentrification is always a delicate topic, especially in a city where it usually has meant well-to-do whites buying up affordable houses in predominantly black neighborhoods. The trend is reflected in recent census figures that show that the District is no longer a majority-black city and by ever-whiter neighborhoods such as Shaw and H Street Northeast.

But black gentrification is increasingly redefining the G-word and changing the economics of places like Anacostia. [source]

Why am I bringing this up? After leaving Bar Sepia one night, we passed by one of the mister’s old standard bodegas (basically, a convenient store), but he did a double take… and eventually, a full stop.

“Wow, man,” was all I heard. “Gentrification is real.”

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