Friday, March 25, 2011

It's Still like Ice Cream: Confessions of A Black Gentrifier

It seems like I live on Ta-Nehesi Coates' blog at this point. Tent and hot plate in tow. He posted a link to an article by Shani Hilton Confessions of Black Gentrifier that adds perspective to the D.C. gentrification/black flight issue. Her perspective is somewhat my perspective. You know in my "as soon as I get to D.C." dreams, I too would be a gentrifier. Like eat ice cream, sometimes you feel guilt. Are you part of the problem or part of the cure?

She makes an important comment
But now, living in the city is cool again, thanks in no small part to development incentivized by government investment. And because we live in a “nation of cowards” (as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder put it) where perhaps the only thing harder to talk about than race is class, it’s unsurprising that worries about gentrification boil down to white versus black, instead of educated and privileged versus uneducated and underserved.

And this is true. The conversation about D.C. has been very racial in economic moments and quite economic when speaking of race. It's easier because if we start to cut along class lines we will have to admit that some of us are quite similar to those we despise and much more distant from those that we love and vow to uplift. Much farther than we care to acknowledge much less admit.

The article is criticized for not interviewing the poor Black residents, which I feel is overdone. Including the opinion of a poor Black resident on a Black Gentrifier as opposed to White would have been informative. I believe our general inclination to simplify, to see the world as black and white makes articles like this hard to swallow/accept and thus found far and in between.

[Illustration by Robert Meganck and taken from the article]
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