I have just had the pleasure of reading two very distinctive articles A Changing Mission- The Story and Is Gentrification Ruining Los Angeles, or Saving It? Pick a Side. Both articles followed gentrification in the state of California, the only difference was that one article focused on San Francisco’s gentrification process while the other focused on Los Angeles gentrification process.
Whilst reading A Changing Mission- The Story I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the Latino families that experienced eviction, displacement, and cruelty due to a gentrifying neighborhood. The article noted that since the year of 2000, Mission has lost a total of 2,400 Latinos; replacing them were those of the wealthier white class. The result of the shrinking Latino community was newcomers to the neighborhood that brought along with them new businesses and in many ways a new culture. For many old-time residents seeing and living in an unfamiliar environment was painful and needed to end. This for me evoked immediate sorrow and even guilt; I remember feeling as if to be the blame for the lives of the Latino community in San Francisco, because I too am a gentrifier.
Living in New York City, Brooklyn to be exact, I participate in gentrification through the indirect and direct privileges I have, such as attending a University, living in an urban environment, using Lyft and Uber apps, living in a reasonably safe neighborhood, watching gentrification destroy communities of color in New York City.
I really had a moment where I noticed how much my way of living had an impact on people in ways unimaginable. Despite feeling like this, there was also a point where I was a tad bit torn, because here I am feeling frustrated as hell but reading the testimonies of the ‘new kids on the block’ as they experience people trying to drive them out. Innocent people who are just in their mind’s eye doing the righteous thing by moving into the neighborhood; they have good intentions, but unfortunately are faced with angry people who express it through vandalizing, threatening, and putting newcomers through trouble. It became this cycle of resentment from both ends of the gentrification spectrum.
On the other hand, the article Is Gentrification Ruining Los Angeles, or Saving It? featured a dual sided viewpoint of gentrification. There were moments while reading when I felt as though the choice in wording in the article was poor and instead of convincing me that gentrification is a good thing, it further showed me the negative impacts gentrification has. When speaking of LA’s Echo Park new business aims, writer Art Tavana wrote “vegan and boho-chic shops that cater to people who don’t carry guns”, which I felt was badly stated simply because one cannot tell if a person is armed off of appearances. Acknowledging that there is a certain type of person that is welcomed and treated with respect when they enter a space over one who isn’t upset me due to it’s insensitive language. People who experience gentrification are of all different ethnicities and cultures. The article mentioned that LA experienced a period where there was a much greater gang and drug related activities in the streets, by of course, people of color. Within the last couple of years LA has cleaned up its “unsafe” streets and cracked down harder on policy, which ultimately got rid of the gun bearing and gan affiliated color folk. This hit a special place in my heart because I am Black, and I do identify as a person of color. I always end up asking myself what will it take for my community to receive the same type of treatment that our rich white counterparts are basking in.
. Evidently both A Changing Mission- The Story and Is Gentrification Ruining Los Angeles, or Saving It? helped give me a new perspective of gentrification and that is that; yes, it is real and we must admit it, we can’t look at people being abandoned and neglected with no place to go and in return say “oh well that’s just the result of an improving neighborhood”, because that doesn’t solve anything. Yet we have to try and be logical about our actions in knowing that not every new person who comes into a community has negative intentions; something that is much easier said than done but is achievable.