Uncomfy aspect of gentrification

There was another post but I think it is lost to the ether that is the Internet. Anyway, despite my odd posts about gentrification, I haven’t been able to define it in a way that is simple and oh, politics-free and maybe even free of racial context. I don’t think gender or orientation have a lot to do with it, but plays a minor but maybe pivotal role. I’m more than happy to define gentrification as an economic thing. Face it when the real estate taxes go up 200%, believe me it is very much related to money.

My own problem relates to where I fit in all this. I was raised in a working class family in a poor black neighborhood in the South. Currently, I guess you can call me middle class, definately a professional (if I’m not can I stop paying the student loans?), and still black. I laud the arrival of folks who are “middle class like me” regardless of color or orientation. But I do admit it is troublesome to those who have been here longer, who now have to keep up with the newcomers who have raised the value of the properties and rents. None of us who are middle class come in with the intention of pushing out the oldtimers or the poor. (We won’t cry a tear, however, should the loud section 8 house, or the drug dealers get moved out.)

The visuals of this gentrification are seen in the homes and in the people. Abandoned homes are restored to their former glory, or torn down to make way for something better. Other homes are bought, rehabbed, and made to look nicer. These homes sit near, or are right next to homes that are still abandoned, falling down, or just ghetto looking. The front yards are different, some with dirt patches made from years of hanging out in front, others with many dollars worth of plants, or new walkways and fencing. Oldtimers might keep up, or join in, if they had given up the effort before. The face of gentrification, is white. Despite a fair number of blacks such as myself moving into these ‘up and coming’ neighborhoods, we blend in with the old population. The ones who stick out a bit more are my white neighbors.

Please keep note that whites are a minority in the District of Columbia, making up 30% of the population. Blacks are 60%, Latinos about 8% and the rest being everybody else. In my little area of Truxton Circle (still Shaw dammit) in 2000 the Afr-American population was 90%. So when whites move in, it is very noticable. So far that group has been very middle class.

With Spring the visuals are all there. Well the “For Sale” signs are. The building and rehabbing continue. Yards in the winter that have much in common with the ghetto looking yards, bound forward with color and other greenery. And I see joggers. Joggers? Where the heck are these people jogging to? I see more dog walkers. In Winter they seem to be the most miserable sort, now, all happy with their pooches, meeting up with others pooches for doggie smootches. Then there is what I don’t see. There are places where crowds of black teens would congregate in large numbers. I see fewer of them, of course, it is still early. I hope that I will see fewer kids hanging out on street corners.

I guess I have been running around the topic of race and gentrification. As far as I see, so far I’ll probably keep circling.