3 times I’ve been called a gentrifier in Oakland
NOTE FOR AUSTRALIAN READERS: In towns like Oakland all across America ‘gentrifier’ has become a choice insult. Urban Dictionary defines gentrifier thusly:
A puritan conservative who pretends that is a ‘hipster’
I was a gentrifier in Williamsburg. Like the maligned hipsters, I used my parents’ savings to secure a place to live. I wanted grocery stores that carried organic products like Horizon milk for $6 per half-gallon, and overpriced but aesthetically satisfying coffee shops like El Beit. I needed expensive boutiques, otherwise I would have felt bad for having left Manhattan.
So here are the 3 times random people have called me a gentrifier presented in chronological order:
#1: at the train station:
I had just gotten off the train at West Oakland it was about 10PM. I was headed home to sleep. A 20 something girl came up to me at the exit to the train station. She asked me if I could give her money so she could get a train ticket and I said ‘no, sorry’. Unfortunately I must have been in a bad mood so the no came off particularly sullen.
She said “Oh, you just don’t care about anything do you?”
I said “No, I don’t.”
She said ‘Gentrifier.’
#2: on my bike:
I was riding my bike home from my local gym. About 2 blocks from my house I rode past a group of kids standing on the corner. This black kid who was about 14 was standing on the corner with 2 girls who were the same age.
As I ride past him he shouts “GO HOME, GENTRIFIER!”
I look back at him. The girls laugh.
#3: at the comedy show:
I was at this comedy show in downtown Oakland:
I went with a friend who works in tech and her colleagues. She works for a company that makes routers. I think. There were about 6 of us- all white or asian and all under 30. Most were wearing the uniform of the young tech worker: Jeans and a hoodie. Not baggy, but not tight enough to be fashionable.
Unfortunately we decided to sit in the front row- whoops. The very first comedian gets on stage and the very first thing he says is “the gentrifiers are out in force tonight.” He then puts on his nerdy white guy voice and says “Get out of the town. Out of the town. The town. Out of the town. The town.”
The last comedian made a joke about how only white people complain about getting robbed in Oakland. And then when the show finished I went outside and my bike was stolen. I complained about it a lot.