Last year, it took me roughly six weeks to earn $5,800. This is significant because during the late eighties and early nineties my mother received public assistance, subsequently she and I lived off of $5,800 for an entire year.
Yes, $5,800 per year.
Given these facts, last year, I thought a lot about the ways in which I could personally serve as a gentrifying factor in my hometown of Oakland, California. Often times, in popular media, there is very little talk of gentrification, or if there is, it is discussed in vague terms, such as”those hipsters are moving in” or “those white people are moving in” or “this area is becoming nicer.”
Gentrification has very little to do with white hipsters moving into the ‘hood and everything to do with process of people who earn higher incomes moving into neighborhoods where folks reside who are earning comparatively lower incomes.
If I am a Black women, in Bed-stuy, East Oakland or the South Side of Chicago, and I earn $60K per year and I am willing to pay $1000 for an apartment that everyone else, who earns between $10-15K/year, pays $500 per month, then I am serving as a force of gentrification in this neighborhood. It bears being stated that I in may ways I am a gentrifying force in the same way that a white person earning $60K who moves into the same community.
What becomes pivotal is my willingness to be engaged with the community that I have moved into.
There is something extremely disheartening about walking into a bar called “La Negrita” to find it full of white people, and white people only. I already cringe when someone brings me to a bar in New York City where I’m the most “ethnic” face in the room; it hits me over the head in a city as diverse as this. But La Negrita is especially bugging me, not only because of its name and lack of explanation for the name; but because we’re on 109th Street and Columbus—Manhattan Valley—a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood where most of the longtime residents are black and Latino (and most of the newcomers are white).
For the past couple of months, I’ve been staying with a friend who lives in this neighborhood. (It’s a temporary living situation while I wait to make a more permanent move back to Queens.) I’ve been hyper-aware of gentrification and racial dynamics since my first day here. Read the Post Another Perspective on Gentrification
by Guest Contributor G.D., originally published at PostBourgie
Ever since Lola* — one of those eateries that attracts impeccably dressed, upwardly mobile young Negroes — moved from Chelsea to SoHo, it’s been fighting with the neighborhood alliance over its petition for a license for liquor and the right to have live entertainment.
The Patrick-Odeens, the mixed-race couple that runs the spot, said that the opposition from the neighborhood group bears the scent of racism. The SoHo Alliance says that race has nothing to do with their stance: it’s just that the restaurant attracts the wrong type of crowd.
First [the liquor license petition] was annulled by a state court, then the annulment was overturned by an appellate court. But the Soho Alliance is opposing that reinstatement, and because Lola is opening within 500 feet of three or more other license holders, a state law requires the SLA to consider input from the community board and others in the area—like the alliance.
Doesn’t sound so bad until you hear some of the alliance’s rationale. A money quote:
“I don’t think you need a martini to go with chitlins and collard greens. What wine goes with jambalaya? I can’t think of one,” [SoHo Alliance director Sean Sweeney said], ridiculing Lola’s need for a license.
This entire issue of Colorlines is worth a full, thorough read, but here are a few of the articles that caught my eye:
Wasting Away in Margaritaville (p. 10)
Exploring the construction of mega-casino, Margaritaville (a $700 million dollar joint venture between Harrah Casino and Jimmy Buffet), the article points out how the people living and working in East Biloxi have been shut out of the city planning dialogue.
Q & A: Etan Thomas (p. 16)
A refreshing peek into the mind of an athlete who embraces speaking out about social and political political issues. Inner Peace (p. 48)
Article Tagline: “As more Americans take to the mat, Black teachers use yoga to uplift their community.”
Bomb Magazine Winter 2008 Issue www.bombsite.com
This entire issue focuses on discussing the contemporary art scene in Brazil. Not to be missed: Adelia Prado’s poems “Opus Dei” and “The Dictator in Prison”; the excerpt from the new novel Jonas, by Patricia Melo; the interview with Bernardo Carvalho, in which he says “There is nothing further from posing than art. On the contrary, literature is the affirmation of truth.”
Glamour Magazine January 2008 Issue www.glamour.com
3 Condi Surprises (p. 29)
Condoleeza Rice wants to run for Governor of California, and may possibly run for Vice President in the future. I have no words.
Spends more time per week changing hairstyle than showering: ok, ew, sooo NOT check
With the exception of the final point, I qualify pretty solidly as a card-carrying member of hipsterdom (*though, according to Carmen, the first rule of being hipster is never admitting to being one*). I’m what one could call a “conscious hipster,” as oxymoronic as that sounds. I genuinely care about the world. I blog about race and gender, I recycle, I hold doors for the elderly. . . but I also devote a lot of time to fashion, music, and other facets of materialism on which I find worthy enough to throw money. Does that make me a bottomless pit of indifference? I think not.
Unfortunately, pop references to hipsters are never quite flattering and, to be honest, I think most of us “have it coming.” After reading the piece on Wes Anderson, and the responses thereafter, I began to wonder whether my pending defense of hipsters had a future in the metaphoric trash heap. Afterall, this site, among many others, has been nothing close to forgiving for hipsters’ behavioral faux-pas, including, but not limited to: political indifference (passed off as white liberalism), superficiality, aversion to personal hygiene, endorsement of the objectification of women under the guise of post-modern feminism, and an inexplicable hunger for overpriced clothing that looks as though it’s been bought, sold, and worn three times over.
And more than anything, perhaps as a means of highlighting their flaws while simultaneously skirting the risk of inciting the wrath of equal rights groups or the anti-racist blogger community (*wink wink*), they are portrayed as overwhelmingly white.
The problem that lies therein, however, is that in this attempt to criticize a group that is considered to be teeming with silent predators to developing neighborhoods by way of its voracious consumerism in the face of poverty and quasi-colonial gaze, the people of color who make up a sizeable portion of the hipster clans in major cities are swept under the rug, virtually ignored for the sake of ease. Given, it’s much easier to stereotype a group when they are all exactly alike, right? Yet once the idea of color or class or queerness ends up in the mix, the critics get a little vertiginous, as their previously asserted sweeping generalizations may end up pulling them into a vortex of inaccuracy.
I decided to do a little impromptu research into the history of people of color in the United States who would probably be considered hipsters, at least if they were somehow superimposed over a backdrop of post-millennial modernity. I thought of Pachucos (more on them in a sec), people of color who were members of the beat generation, the followers of and participants in rock in its earliest (predominately black) stages, and even my mother, who identified as a “hippie” during her college years (and sometimes still does, though, nowadays, more as an optional fashion statement as opposed to an indication of political voice). Long story short, they’ve been out there for quite some time— people of color trickling back into the movements to which they gave birth, later to be co-opted by whites, and vice versa, and it’s still very much the case today. One particular “hipster” cultural movement, if you will, is one for which I have yet to find a name. Read the Post A Case for Hipsters (of color)?