Are You Sick of Hearing About Gentrification Yet?

I just realized that I’m going to be out of town this weekend, when the Gentrification in Los Angeles event is going down. So, if anybody out there wants to go and represent me, here is my argument in a nutshell: Not all white skin = oppresor, not all brown skin = oppressed. If anybody makes it over I’d love to hear a report. I might even, you know, repost it here and not give you any credit.

While we’re on the subject, I should share that it sounds like the neighbor to the north (the mexican family that likes to confer with the rear neighbor about how we’re bad for the community because we report them when they do illegal things), is planning on raising the rent on the other unit on their property by a considerable margin, thus effectively evicting the old Filipino couple that has lived there for years (and with whom we get along fabulously). It’s a complex world, my brothers.

Just kidding about the credit thing, by the way.

10 Replies to “Are You Sick of Hearing About Gentrification Yet?”

  1. Instead of trying to preach to people of color that white people aren’t so bad, why don’t you take the effort to convince other white people to stop oppressing people of color? I think it would be more constructive than getting in our faces when we actually try to bring up, you know, important things that affect communities of color. If you are, as I think you trying to say, one of the “good” white people, this would be the best use of your time, and, more importantly, wouldn’t come off as yet another white person complaining that the colored folk are actually discussing *gasp* race. Just my 2 cents after reading a few of your posts.

  2. My oldest daughter is in kindergarten out here on the edges of L.A., and this year she learned about Martin Luther King Jr. day. We talked with her about it after school one day, and discussed what he said and believed in and what it means to Americans… after a little talking she turned to me and asked me if we were black. In fact, it seems that she was unable to tie the concept of “black” and “white” to any actual people she knows, since we all match different crayons in her “flesh-colored crayons” set (which is like 24 different crayons, for those of you who haven’t seen anything like it). I’m just so glad she can’t fathom such an outdated concept of identifying people by the tone of their skin.

  3. Thanks for your insight, anonymous poster. I must be communicating a different feeling that I intend. The gist of my argument isn’t to point out that white people are great or that I’m one of the “good” white people at all. What I mean to communicate, and get people to discuss, is that issues like gentrification (and racism and classism) are not nearly as black and white (no pun intended) than we often try to make them. And making the assertion that somebody that moves into your neighborhood doesn’t belong because they’re the wrong race (their argument, not mine) is as wrong headed as assuming that everybody that lives in a poor neighborhood is a criminal.

    I’ve tried to avoid framing the issue in terms of race too much, because I don’t think that’s entirely the point. But it’s unfortunately integral to the situation that I’ve been describing.

    By the way, how do you know that I don’t put effort into convincing white people to stop oppresing people of color? I don’t think we’ve ever met, so I’m not sure how you can be comfortable making that assumption. I’ve never said anything about getting in anybody’s face. And as for the ridiculous idea that this is “yet another white person complaining that the colored folk are actually discussing *gasp* race,” I’d argue exactly the oppposite. Everybody seems to freak out when it’s *gasp* a white person talking about race. If I were a minority writing about moving into a white neighborhood and being made to feel unwelcome because of my ethnicity, I’m 100% confident I’d be overwhelmed with messages of support.

    I really just want to point out (and maybe not doing as good a job as I hoped) that being a good neighbor and a good member of your community has nothing at all to do with the color of your skin or your economic background.

  4. Anon – This may come as a surprise but all us “white” people don’t actually hang out with each other, tolerate each other, know each other or even LIKE each other. We are as diverse in our opinions and habits as “non whites” and we’re sure as hell not gonna take the time for 5000 to convince us all of anything!

    Reminds me of an encounter I had in NYC with a female who I worked with. I had never worked closely with a “black” person and she had never worked closely with a “white” person. I was telling her that I would love to have an apartment across from the Met on 5th Ave. And, that even if I could afford it they would never let me live there. She was shocked and asked “what do you mean they won’t let you live there” I explained that all those super rich “white” folks would never let a “white guy” of bad breeding live in their building. She was shocked that us “white” folks” actually discriminated against each other. She was under the impression that being “white” made it OK to go wherever you wanted, whenever you wanted. Kinda reminds me of your post.

    The only way things will ever get better is by living together, learning from each other, marrying each other and hanging out with each other. My “white” brother’s wife is “black” and their two children are a mix. They also have two “black” children from her previous marriage. He’s a cop and she’s a school principle. They are the poster family of America! I know both sides of the family were a little weirded out on that first christmas until we sat at dinner and realized that we were all just normal people with much more in common than we all thought. Did I like all of them? No. Did they like all of us? No. Was it because we were “white” and they were “black”? No.

    Can’t we ALL just get along? Never gonna happen.

  5. Re: the crayon/MLK story –

    made me think back to my childhood . . .

    i think i was in middle school before it occurred to me that it was okay to call myself a Mexican because, well, I am. until that point, i thought “Mexican” was a wrongly broad way to say Hispanic or Latino. as it turns out, if you’re Mexican, it’s okay to say “I’m Mexican.”

    growing up in uber-culturally-aware LA makes for some interesting childhood beliefs. . . . .

    on the gentrification topic generally – it’s all sort of an MSM construct: if you look at migration patterns in LA County, lots of groups have taken over neighborhoods from other groups. it only seems to become “gentrification” if you get a Pottery Barn out of the deal and if there’s a corresponding increase in home prices. Go fig.

  6. >Are you living in rent controlled dwellings?

    I don’t think it’s rent controlled. I wish it were. It’s a difficult situation though, because I can also understand the new owner’s need to maximize their investment. That’s something that gives me reservations about buying income properties. I don’t’ think I have the heart to be a landlord.

    >before it occurred to me that it was okay to call myself a Mexican

    Oh man. Did you see the episode of The Office with Diversity Day? There’s a great line where Steve Carrell’s character asks the only Mexican guy “Is there another term you prefer besides Mexican? Something less offensive?”

    >if you get a Pottery Barn out of the deal and if there’s a corresponding increase in home prices. Go fig.

    Where’s my damn Pottery Barn! Just kidding. I wouldn’t want that, but I could use a Whole Foods. :)

  7. OMG, Anon.

    Are you kidding me?

    >Instead of trying to preach to people of color that white people aren’t so bad, why don’t you take the effort to convince other white people to stop oppressing people of color?I think it would be more constructive than getting in our faces when we actually try to bring up, you know, important things that affect communities of color.If you are, as I think you trying to say, one of the “good” white people,If you are, as I think you trying to say, one of the “good” white people,OMG, Anon.

    Are you kidding me?

    >Instead of trying to preach to people of color that white people aren’t so bad, why don’t you take the effort to convince other white people to stop oppressing people of color?I think it would be more constructive than getting in our faces when we actually try to bring up, you know, important things that affect communities of color.If you are, as I think you trying to say, one of the “good” white people,If you are, as I think you trying to say, one of the “good” white people,

  8. Jessica – YEAH, much better than I ever could have written!

    FYI, the next “white peoples” meeting is this Friday night at Australia. Anyone want to share a ride?

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