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. Continue reading →
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.
What do you want to do? What do you want to study? What actions do you want to take?
We are not yet half way through the month of December, but resolutions are already on my mind. Heavily into self-evaluation, I tend to make resolutions at New Years and promises to myself on my birthday. I also make career goals and life goals on a regular basis.
However, this year is the first year I will be making activist resolutions. Over the course of 2007, I started blogging for Racialicious, started to immerse myself in the blogosphere, spent time honing thoughts and ideas, started researching trends in gentrification, discovered hundreds of great sources for information, started attending the various films and discussion groups over at Busboys and Poets and kept up with the changes going on abroad.
Still, even with all I accomplished, I feel like some things are a bit lacking. So far, all my research goes into blog posts – I would like the research to have a farther reaching effect. And while the blogosphere is great fun, and we have built a great community here, I wonder about taking more steps out in the real world. I also realized I have huge gaps in my knowledge base, which I seriously want to rectify. So, I decided to roll these things into action items.
In 2008, I will…
…work on myself
*I will dust off that old paper I did for a business law class and figure out how to best educate people about the roles of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization. There is a lot of misinformation floating around about these institutions and they each have had powerful effects on the rise and fall of nations.
*I am going to stop saying “Africa.” Africa is not a country. It is a continent. Talking about the problems in Africa is not as effective as talking about the problems that currently plague individual countries like Malawi, Zimbabwe, Chad, and Sudan.
*I am going to continue to study the trends of gentrification as it manifests in each individual region, paying particular attention to New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. I will also be searching for mixed-income communities around the nation and how urban planners treat social and environmental issues.
…work on the world
* I am going to get more involved in the gaming industry. I am not sure exactly how I will do this – through writing or through some other means – but I feel like the gaming industy is in the unique position to set the tone of entertainment in the next few years. As such, it would be amazing to see gaming break away from the exclusionary model that Hollywood pioneered and make greater strides toward including people of different backgrounds – both behind the scenes and in the actual gameplay.
*I am going to reconnect with my city council members to find out what is happening in my community, particularly in reference to urban planning. Montgomery County has been going through an ongoing remodel and I want to get an in-depth understanding of what urban planners do and how they make decisions.
*To get more involved with youth outreach through the arts. I know people who work in three very different areas and I want to help them all in some way. I have one friend who does youth outreach through hip-hop (music and culture), another who works with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and the head of my yoga studio has just started a foundation to outreach to young women and women in prisons. All worthy causes that I feel compelled to help with in some way.
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. Continue reading →
Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World