october 10 response to readings

I think my favorite part of “A changing Mission — the Story” were the infographics on page 11.

One shows how median income in the neighborhood has become almost consistent with the median income across the city. Yes, the median income has risen. And yes, that is, theoretically, a good thing. But in this case, since the change in rising median income a lot to do with displacement, this graph is possibly more deceptive than it appears at first glance.

The second graph displays the changes in median income by race. It’s this graph that truly makes apparent the problem with gentrification. The median income in this neighborhood has not risen because of a raise in compensation for workers, a sensible tax plan, or a push against the systemic racism embedded in our society. This neighborhood is making more than it has historically because the racial profile of the neighborhood is changing. Displacement is afoot, and it’s moving quickly.

For a neighborhood to get gentrified, somewhere along the way someone has to decide that something about the neighborhood is valuable: the location, historical landmarks, an abundance of cultural capital, etc. When taken alone, the first graph would lead one to believe that this neighborhood has become an increasingly beneficial place to live, planting a motivation in outsiders to relocate to the Mission District. The second graph when paired with the first, shows the problems this yields.

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