DCentric » Rhetoric http://dcentric.wamu.org Race, Class, The District. Wed, 16 May 2012 20:20:35 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 Copyright © WAMU What To Call Gentrification By Non-Whites: Does Race Matter? http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/02/what-to-call-gentrification-by-non-whites-does-race-matter/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/02/what-to-call-gentrification-by-non-whites-does-race-matter/#comments Fri, 03 Feb 2012 19:27:04 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=13949 Continue reading ]]> Gentrification takes place when middle and upper-income people move into low-income communities, which ushers in economic change, reinvestment and development. Jumping back a few weeks ago, a discussion took place on DCentric when we pondered a more specific kind of gentrification: gentefication, which is when low-income, immigrant Latino neighborhoods are gentrified by second-generation, well-to-do Latinos.

So we wondered: is gentrification much different when gentrifiers aren’t white, so much so that it requires its own term?

Alex Baca tweeted that having a separate word for this kind of gentrification is unnecessary:

It's class-based. Don't need fancy names. RT @ On gentrification & rhetoric when non-whites are gentrifiers http://t.co/IrO6Et65

But others argued that gentrification by non-whites does have different implications for neighborhoods. Commenter Gente Negra, wrote:

I have witnesses this phenomena in Orlando, and Miami, in which upper class and affluent African Americans are revitalizing [sp] formerly blighted areas which were once Historically African American communities. In the Orlando Parramore district they have relocated FAMU (an HBCU) Law School, renovated an African American history Museum, built a mixed income housing complex, and relocated the Orlando Magic stadium. Unlike the case when city developers destroyed the Parramore in Orlando, and Overtown in Miami, with I-4 and I-95 respectively. This new form of gentrification and [African American] led gentrification seems to be more sensitive to the preservation of the historical nature of the surrounding areas.

In D.C., gentrification by whites hasn’t necessarily come at the cost of completely wiping out a neighborhood’s history. In some instances, the renewed investment has helped to preserve it. For example, the historic Howard Theatre in Shaw is being renovated at the same time the neighborhood is being gentrified. Honoring a neighborhood’s history can also come with smaller gestures; on H Street NE, restauranteur Joe Englert named one of his restaurants Granville Moore’s as a nod to the building’s former occupant, a renowned African American doctor in the 1950s. Englert told the Washington Post that knowing the building’s history gives “the neighborhood a depth and it shows that these main streets didn’t just spring from the head of Zeus.”

But what kind of impact does paying such homage to the past have on longtime residents, some of whom may be getting priced out of their neighborhoods? Another DCentric commenter wrote:

From my understanding, gentrification is simply the revitalization of a neighborhood by newcomers. Displacement refers to outpricing and removal of formerly entrenched communities. Thus, I don’t consider supposed gentrification in Anacostia to be of the same, much hated ilk as that in other parts of the city. Sure, wealthier blacks are moving in, but has business followed? Where is the redevelopment? Who is being “kicked out” because of their presence? Exclusionary gentrification is associated with whites because its businesses cater solely to white people, unfortunately. Anacostia is not a gentrified neighborhood. I would agree that “gentrification” by blacks and Latinos requires its own terminology.
Commenter monkeyrotica took issue with that thought, writing that, by-and-large, new businesses in gentrifying neighborhoods are frequented by people of similar incomes, regardless of race:
Are middle class businesses [SP] geared towards whites that much different from middle class businesses geared towards African Americans? Sure, they each tend to go to different nightclubs, barbershops, and hair salons, but they both go to the same upscale eateries, grocery shops, and clothing stores that underclass residents have been priced out of.

What’s your take: what does gentrification by non-whites look like? Is gentrification all the same, no matter the race of the gentrifier?

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Gentrification? Try Gentefication. http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/12/gentrification-try-gentefication/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/12/gentrification-try-gentefication/#comments Thu, 29 Dec 2011 17:54:57 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=13075 Continue reading ]]>

Leo Reynolds / Flickr

Gentrification, the "G" word, can be a very loaded term.

We write plenty about gentrification here on DCentric, which can be a very loaded word. But what about “gentefication?” According to our sister blog Multi-American, gentefication is “the process of upwardly mobile Latinos, typically second-generation and beyond, investing in and returning to the old neighborhood.” The “gente” comes from the Spanish word for “people.”

Gentefication is being used to describe what’s happening in L.A.’s Boyle Heights neighborhood, where Latino investors are developing low-income areas, with businesses attracting second-generation and English-speaking crowds. Some low-income locals of Mexican descent are worried they’ll be displaced by all of this development, even if the business owners are Latino, too.

In D.C., gentrification has taken hold in working class black and Latino neighborhoods, and most of D.C.’s well-to-do newcomers are white; in a city that’s mostly black, 60 percent of households making more than $75,000 are white, according to census data. Therefore the word “gentrification” in D.C. tends to imply neighborhood changes have to do with class and race.

But gentrification, even in the District, isn’t always about race. Take Anacostia, where the gentrification that’s starting to occur is class-based; professional African Americans are settling in the predominately black, low-income area. And just as in L.A.’s Boyle Heights, some of these newcomers have roots in the city and are returning to the places they grew up. So is gentrification the best way to describe what’s happening in Anacostia, or do we need a new word, too?

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‘Virtual Lynching’ and Listserv Rhetoric http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/06/virtual-lynching-and-listserv-rhetoric/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/06/virtual-lynching-and-listserv-rhetoric/#comments Fri, 03 Jun 2011 20:58:12 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=7601 Continue reading ]]> As D.C.’s racial makeup is changing, racially-charged rhetoric can end up being used in the typical neighborhood squabbles that happen in many communities. The latest example came across the Brookland neighborhood Listserv, in which an ANC commissioner accused a few people of using the forum to “virtually lynch” a family who have taken years to complete a large home renovation. The family is black and started the work in 2007. The complaining neighbors are white and have raised questions over the Listserv about the size of the project and its documentation, among other concerns.

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

A woman checking her email.

Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs director Nicholas Majett wrote an email on the Listerv in January explaining the property had three years’ worth of allegations of illegal building, but that most of the allegations were unsubstantiated. A few citations had been issued and he added that his office was looking into new complaints brought by neighbors.

ANC Commissioner Vaughn Bennett writes in an email to DCentric that he has no regrets with his characterization of situation as a “lynching:”

In the same vein as claiming that a black man whistled at a white woman, the rallying call is that a black man is building a house in violation of the law (which he is not), resulting in the unwarranted outrage and attacks from those hidden behind computer screens.

Consider, how many other houses are being built, (from the ground up), by black men, (or black women), in our neighborhood? How many other homes and homeowners have come under such a sustained “virtual” attack? None. Not even the house under construction in the 1200 block of Evarts where a worker was recently killed by being buried under a collapse of mud.

The Evarts house also had proper work permits, but nonetheless, Bennett writes, “[I] am fully confident that what I said correctly summarized the circumstance and situation. My use of the term ‘virtually lynch’ was not done without due diligence and forethought.” Additionally, one of the homeowners had previously posted an email on the Listserv, writing they are “very tired of people that are neighbors constantly harassing my family on this [Listserv].”

The term “lynching” conjures up images of a tragic history in which black men were killed by white mobs in acts of vigilante justice. One volunteer moderator took down Bennett’s post, asking whether it was necessary to use the term “‘lynching’ whenever two people of different races have a legitimate disagreement. Surely this use of the language cheapens what happened to the people who were actually lynched.”

Allegations of modern-day lynchings are nothing new; the most well-known recent employment of the term was by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as he was preparing to face confirmation hearings. He had been accused of sexual harassment by Anita Hill, and the allegations were being widely discussed in the media. Thomas said to an all-white, all-male panel of senators who were questioning in a televised hearing:

This is not a closed room. There was an FBI investigation. This is not an opportunity to talk about difficult matters privately or in a closed environment. This is a circus. It’s a national disgrace. And from my standpoint as a black American, as far as I’m concerned, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you. You will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the US Senate rather than hung from a tree.

Some argue that it was Thomas’ very use of the term that helped him fend off Hill’s accusations.

Emma Coleman Jordan, former counsel to Anita Hill, wrote about Thomas’ use of the term lynching in a 2007 Washington Post editorial:

Lynching is a powerful symbol of America’s racial past precisely because it sits astride a deep and largely invisible divide in the memories of blacks and whites. Blacks and whites sometimes have conflicting and irreconcilable accounts of the use of horrific violence to keep blacks “in their place” between the end of the Civil War and the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Lynching still touches an intensely sensitive nerve because it conjures up multiple images: violent enforcement of residential segregation, brutality and unfairness in the criminal justice system and myths about black male hypersexuality.

Bennett’s use of “lynching” may be seen as very polarizing in what is an otherwise common neighborhood dispute. But as powerful as the term can be, for some the memory of intimidation can be just as powerful.

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