First Name Basis

Race is a key point when it comes to talking about gentrification. Many will point to the white person as the gentrifier. Many others will despise this label. It is a common thread in the conversation about gentrification for individuals to say, “why do we keep bringing race into the picture? Obviously gentrification is an economic issue. There are black gentrifiers.” The truth is both ends of the spectrum are wrong. No not all gentrifiers are white but that doesn’t mean that the tendency for gentrifiers to be white is not significant. The same goes for the other end of the table, yes race is very important but you cannot judge the change going on in a neighborhood solely on race. It makes sense why people would end up on either end of this argument. Gentrification is not something that is easy to assess. There is no answer, but we want answers, so we take what we see. That’s why the average economist who works with numbers all day might attribute gentrification to wealth. That’s why the average resident in a gentrifying neighborhood who sees the changes in face on a daily basis might attribute gentrification to race. When it comes down to it we need everyone’s skill sets and we need to adapt to a modern world. We can’t as “For Many Latinos, Race is More Important Than Color” by Mireya Navarro points out make “distinctions based on 18th century binar[ies]”. As the title of the article points out, race is not just color. Additionally, social class is not just wealth. These are complicated things we are dealing with here. Finally, getting back the point that gentrification itself is confusing: we simply can’t deal with gentrification the same way in every place. Sure, there are certain types of legislation that can be put in place. That is necessary. But this is about individual communities who need the agency to voice what they need. Inequality in housing and basic amenities stems past greedy, racist, landlords and political institutions. The first thing to do is realize that you need to look at gentrification in context. Battle with your gentrification on a first name basis.