I wonder if this woman realized how shallow she sounded. From today’s Times article on new housing developments in Boyle Heights:
“We are in a great location, and everybody knows Boyle Heights is going to be pretty and it’s going to happen soon,” Chavez said. “But more affordable housing? That’s ridiculous. We want a 14-screen beautiful theater with appropriate parking.” And stores other than Sears. “I’d love to be able to shop in my own neighborhood, but I don’t like polyester,” she said.
I told my mom about the new developments a little while ago. Even though we’ve lived in the suburbs since the late ’70s, we still have strong connections to East LA and Boyle Heights. My parents grew up there, and for most of my childhood many of my family members and grandparents still lived in the area. My father worked even worked at the Sears building while he was taking classes at LA Trade Tech.
I framed the article and news about developments in racial/ethnic terms, “white people will be moving in to East LA.” She looked at me as if I told her hell had frozen over. News about gentrification in East LA isn’t necessarily news to me. I have several friends who are in urban planning and others who work for nonprofits like the ones mentioned in the article.
I also know that communities change in ethnic population over time as Boyle Heights has. However, it’s really hard for me and my mom to imagine Boyle Heights as anything but primarily a Latino (and Mexican at that) community.