Is “Gentrification” a race issue?

The issue of race relations is one I find both particularly fascinating (watching people of different races interact) and disturbing (the way people make race a bigger issue than it has to be). Maybe it’s because I’m racially ambiguous (most people don’t know what I am), but I don’t understand why the color of a person’s skin determines how a person should be treated, or how they should treat other people. I am not white, but I grew up in a white household, so perhaps it changes the way I view the world, however, it is such a thing that people from other countries have commented on how our view of race is part of what defines us as a nation!

I still think that is just NOT right. I mean, look at Jamaica:

JAMAICA

But it goes further than our need to define each other by color. We, as a country, have this long standing bitterness towards people of colors other than our own. Many of the African American people that I know will casually remark how they are being mistreated because they are black, even if there are people of other colors with them. It’s as if they are still harboring anger from slavery, which hasn’t been a thing for a very very long time!

I like how Chris Rock explains it. I don’t know how old this clip is, but it’s stuck with me for quite a while now… years probably, but it is still relevant, and it makes a fairly important point, I think. Even though I know that all the Native Americans aren’t dead (I’m still kicking, for one), you don’t hear the Native Americans complaining about race as much. Unfortunately, as he points out, there aren’t that many of us left, but I don’t think that is the main reason why you don’t hear that much from the tribal peoples. I’d like to think it’s because we realize how silly being judged on the color of your skin is.

I could do a whole post on Native American ideas, and I may sometime in the future, but for today, I want to get back to this idea of racism… specifically this whole idea of gentrification (which I don’t actually think is a race issue, but I’ve been told otherwise).

White people seem to get very uncomfortable when the issue is brought up, and I think that’s understandable: other races blame them for everything that is wrong, even though the wrongs done to the races were done many years ago.

I’m not saying that it’s all better; obviously things aren’t quite equal yet, but it’s not just a race issue. Women still make less than men and are judged purely on their looks more times than not. Two guys in a row have told me my brain was sexy, but they’re not physically attracted to me (that’s a nice way of saying I’m just not pretty enough)… although that didn’t stop them from trying to sleep with me. That’s a prime example of non-race related inequality for ya.

Here’s another one (if you’re offended by vulgar language, stop now).

So, gentrification. What is it, exactly? It’s where people with more money go into areas with less money and take over. It’s manifest destiny all over again (ask your history professor if you don’t know what that means), but this time it’s on a small neighborhood scale instead of a national or continental scale.

Ever heard of hipsters? Those people are the gentrifiers in most cases. It’s become cool to look poor while sipping on your overpriced double shot salted caramel latte, or your $9+ “white girl” pumpkin spiced beverage from Starbucks.

hipstersNewsflash: poor people don’t waste $9 on a single drink unless it has alcohol in it. I’m not saying poor people are alcoholics, but a single drink shouldn’t cost more than a gallon of milk, eggs, and a loaf of bread combined… unless it has some pretty pricey liquor in it. And a person who is pinching their pennies knows exactly what they need in order to get milk, eggs, and bread. Take it from the girl who has had to use her laundry money to fill her gas tank so she could get to work…

Hipsters don’t have to think about how much it costs to get the basics. They just want people to think they do. They’re trying to be “real,” and what they are really accomplishing is being douchey. They want to experience the culture of the communities they are moving to because they think the culture is quaint, but then they bring their overpriced beverages and their expensive organic stores, forcing the people who created the culture out.

Like when the Europeans not so quietly took over the world, colonizing Africa, parts of Asia, Australia, and the Americas….

columbus2

Colonization? A race issue. Gentrification is color blind.

As part of my current adventure in reinventing myself (which I haven’t spoken about much on here because I didn’t want the whole world to know I was living in a hotel instead of my own place), I’ve been kind of skipping around town, from hotel to hotel based on which place gives me the best price on Hotwire. Night before last, Hotwire made a mistake I didn’t catch until I got to my hotel at 11 at night and I didn’t have a room. Then I called and got a new room at what I thought was a good price, until I got there…

southmore2014-10-22 11.23.37The bars on the windows were worrisome. The metal grate in place of a screen door that separated the office from the rest of the world, moderately concerning… The fact that I wasn’t allowed INTO the office to fill out my paperwork, but instead had to talk through a window, a little bit scary. But the thing that let me know that I was really in a slum hotel? The mirrors. On almost every wall. And the bright red accent wall behind the mirrored headboard… Can you say “pay by the hour?”

The reason I bring up my adventure at a former hooker hotel is that the neighborhood I was in is a predominantly African American neighborhood (for those of you from Houston, Hotwire sent me to Third Ward… be afraid for me) and was being gentrified by a not white family. All the employees that I met at the hotel were of Asian descent, Indian or Bangladeshi, I believe, and seemed to be related. So a more affluent, not white, family bought a run down motel and were fixing it up. There were obvious renovations being made, and the price was more than I would have paid had I seen the place before I authorized the payment.

Gentrification in progress.

Furthermore, poor white people are equally dispersed when gentrification happens, but we don’t hear about that exactly. An article about the gentrification of 7 major U.S. cities says it’s a race issue. They even provide a nice little video to prove the point. Here we see uppity white people, or yuppies, arguing with people of color, predominantly hispanic or latino people, about the renting of a soccer field.

I particularly like how, once they have the “permit” present, he tries to lure the neighborhood natives off the field to discuss. A very sneaky tactic just to get them off the field.

But is it because the invaders are white that anyone took notice? Here are well to do white people invading and trying to change a hispanic neighborhood. Is it their color that gives them the feeling of privilege? Or the fact that they have money?

Watch it again. The offenders have some non-white people on their team. I know I saw at least one Asian man in the group.

But people are quick to yell about “white privilege,” like all white people have it easy. Well, my friend who is a single white mother will tell you she doesn’t have it that easy. Or my parents, who are struggling to make ends meet while they help me and my brothers pay off our student loans will tell you that they don’t have it that great. It is assumed that because they are white, they have this mysterious “white privilege” and can make money magically appear. Meanwhile, I have friends of other races who are making 6 figures and enjoy the finer things in life that many white people I know can’t afford.

I’m pretty sure the Boy was a hipster, and he was black. His apartment cost more than double what mine did, and his weekly Sunday coffee was at a place that was like a hipster mecca, with pricey coffee and organic breakfast foods. So, I think that makes him a black hipster…

blipster

Blipster? Is that really a thing?

Either way, making gentrification a race issue means that only white people can have money. I don’t think that’s the message we should be sending out into the universe. It’s not a positive message to our youth, and it’s simply not true! Stop making things that are not race related into race issues!

Also, rich people need to stop trying to pretend to be poor. Hipsters are kind of scary…

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10 thoughts on “Is “Gentrification” a race issue?

  1. I love this post my take is I feel people as Americans just aren’t happy with their lives or what they have in general. This makes them feel like victims or feel like they are owed special treatment when they just are not happy and have to find a reason to validate their in happiness. Great post though.

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