Black People Gentrify Neighborhoods, Too

Flilckr: Andrew Bossi

Le Droit Park, D.C.

The word gentrification is regularly used to describe the process of white people displacing black people in up-and-coming neighborhoods. The cover story of this week’s City Paper goes beyond that stereotype and offers a point of view which isn’t often present in color-coded, nuance-free debates about how areas are changing: that of the black gentrifier.

The story of the black gentrifier, at least from this black gentrifier’s perspective, is often a story about being simultaneously invisible and self-conscious. The conversation about the phenomenon remains a strict narrative of young whites displacing blacks who have lived here for generations. But a young black gentrifier gets lumped in with both groups, often depending on what she’s wearing and where she’s drinking. She is always aware of that fact…

And those of us walking fancy dogs, gawking at fancier renovations, but who happen to look like most of our neighbors, don’t necessarily have better insight into what’s going on around us than the white folks do. The class differences can yawn almost as wide as racial ones—almost. Soon enough, “D.C. will be majority rich people,” Ngongang says. “The statistics of D.C. will match what corporate America looks like.” It stings for a minute, because I’m not quite sure which side of that statistical warning I want to identify with.

“It is an entitlement thing.”

Another response to Megan McArdle’s “Gentrifiers Lament” for The Atlantic, this time from local blog In Bloom. One of McArdle’s neighbors in Bloomingdale penned this:

Gentrification is also hurting middle-income African-Americans and minorities. By “middle-income,” I don’t mean middle-class, because I am far from that monetary threshold. By “middle-income,” I’m talking about myself, friends, and others who are like me: young, educated professionals who make above the poverty level, but not quite enough to afford to buy or to rent in a neighborhood that is ideal to what we are looking for. Whether it’s due to the market, neighborhood, or gentrification, landlords and owners are pricing the rent at such an unaffordable rate that the $30,000-$45,000 income we earn annually looks even more dismal…

my plea to you, gentrifiers *, is to make sure to make this a mixed-income, or rather a melting-pot neighborhood with various incomes and socioeconomic statuses. Yes, the median neighborhood income is probably now well above my $39,000 annual income, but I’m a responsible citizen who works, goes to school, and adds value to our neighborhood and community at large. Please understand that this isn’t so much of a race thing as it is an entitlement thing.

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“Look what we did with it”

Mr. T in DC

1829 1st Street NW, Bloomingdale

I guess I’ll link to The Atlantic twice in one day; Megan McArdle is reluctant about gentrifying her neighborhood.

Yesterday, I rode the bus for the first time from the stop near my house, and ended up chatting with a lifelong neighborhood resident who has just moved to Arizona, and was back visiting family. We talked about the vagaries of the city bus system, and then after a pause, he said, “You know, you may have heard us talking about you people, how we don’t want you here. A lot of people are saying you all are taking the city from us. Way I feel is, you don’t own a city.” He paused and looked around the admittedly somewhat seedy street corner. “Besides, look what we did with it. We had it for forty years, and look what we did with it!”

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Bloomingdale gets Rustik, tonight!

Folks in the Bloomingdale neighborhood are elated at tonight’s 9pm opening of Rustik, a pizza joint at 1st and T St. When I say elated, I mean it. Here’s one tweet I can’t show you because of language, but the relevant part of it is this: “Been living in #Bloomingdaledc 4 years w/ no restaurant the dark days are over!”

Four years with no restaurant? Talk about an under-served area. If you’re wondering about the menu, peep this blurb:
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