By William Breveard
Gentrification: The meaning of gentrification has gone through a series of changes in the past several decades. The root word, “Gentry”, partly explains the terms gentrification: it gives us a sense that the city is being upgraded by adding middle or upper class people. Originally, the term gentrification was invented to describe the residential movement of middle-class people into the low-income areas. Understand that gentrification is to be a plan that focuses on developing urban renewal plans and projects to help uplift and restore low-income urban areas. This is all done in hopes to attract wealthier residents in order to boost the economy of the neighborhood or city. It has been debated that gentrification can be linked to reductions in crime rates, increased property values, and renewed community activism.
Many of our ancestors have arrived to this nation with aspirations of living a life of success. This is indeed the land of the free and the home of the brave but according to gentrification, which is the removal of lower class citizens through property renewal, the increase in cost of living and demographic shifts; it feels as if we are living in the exact opposite. Gentrification indeed has had some advantages but overall it has led to the increase of the homeless population, the loss of culture, and other social issues. Gentrification is far more detailed than just being a process of urban renewal in social classes. The process of gentrification is when minorities are moved out of their neighborhoods due to increased cost of living.
A brief explanation would be to see what is occurring up in Northern California in San Francisco. As early as the early 90’s, San Francisco has been going through some drastic remodeling. From new efficient transportation rail cars to sky-rising condominiums, advancements have truly manifested in the city with golden gate bridge. These renovations which are being done sound like a dream come true for many residents of the Bay Area but in actuality this is social crisis and must take a look and examine who really this is affecting. The new look of this area may be comfortable for anyone who can afford this area mostly upper middle class Caucasian Americans, but the ones who lived here before which were dominantly African Americans who are paying the toll of these neighborhood advancements.
Historic preservation traditionally has been; simply restoring historical significant architectural or geographical sites for aesthetic value or for the benefit of future generations to better understand the ways and styles of past generations. When building and neighborhoods with historic significance are torn down or allowed to disintegrate a part of that city’s culture is lost indefinitely. This is the same issue which is happening now in the Watts area they’re loosing their homes, their community, and their history. When this happens, they’re going to loose a lot more at hand, the history of the community helps us as people know were we came from, who we are, also the opportunities of living and working around these historic and unique looking buildings are lost forever. The recent use of historic preservation has begun to be viewed by cities and towns as a means to economic development and urban renewal. According to advocates, historic preservation has aided in local economic and community revitalization, increased tourism and employment, and preserved regional history, culture, and pride within the city.
Downtown Los Angeles and the Watts areas aren’t the only areas experiencing this process it’s getting very popular across our county places like Seattle, New York, and Downtown Miami are seeing their once beloved communities disappear. Gentrification is possible a good thing that is being said but its affecting the lower class people, “they attack poor communities of color.” These people are loosing their homes because they refuse to build to new ones for the lower class, while condos sprout up on Street corners and middle white class families move in, some say an integral part of the community has been victimized. Even though there is new middle class wealth moving into the inner city black owned businesses is struggling as well. A man in Seattle who moved there in 1986 said, “Gentrification has eaten up most of the businesses that were here when I came,” he said. “The climate is dismal.” A former African American Seattle mayor Norm Rice in 2006 spoke on this long process of gentrification and his words were, “I’m concerned and I am frustrated because I don’t know what the alternatives [to gentrification] are. [This process] clearly isn’t racist, it’s economic. The real question you have to ask yourself is: Is this good or bad?”
As we see a lot more white middle class people heading back to the inner city where they “work and play” ironically this process took place as the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement came to a halt but is increasingly a reality in 21st century urban America. Many African Americans are moving out of the urban core and into the suburban areas in the 1990-2000 decade they saw an increasingly large rise of black people move into the suburbs and have continued to experience heavy growth from African Americans while the percentage of blacks in Seattle’s inner city has dropped in the same time period.
In Los Angeles at a conference in January of 2007 about 30 community groups got together and formed an alliance called Right to the City the leaders of this group linked the cities across America like Miami, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Cincinnati which gentrification is taking place. From the alliance member’s eyes, Americans are faced with a new urban politics, and the word redevelopment has come to mean tailoring every aspect of city life. Those who which agree with this alliance simply argues that’s the poor communities are neglected and no longer meets the requirements under this new urban polities. With them raising living cost in the areas these people once obtained, there actually removing the poor entirely from the newly decorative downtown/inner-city areas.
A city called Overtown just on the other side of Downtown Miami is a predominately black historical community which is on the process under going gentrification. This community’s poverty level is more than 50% that’s more than half of its residents and residents estimate family income is just a little over $14,000 a year. Its said approximately 90% of residents are renting homes this is a breathe-taking change from less than 50 years ago when many African Americans owned their own businesses and homes. The 1960’s was the beginning of the end when major highways were put up of through the central business area of Overtown and over 10,000 people we removed from this area. Thus duplicating the abandonment of other many inner-city areas across America by the federal government and by working-middle class white Americans. In Overtown just like we’re seeing in Watts the biggest issue is housing. Even though in certain areas they’re allowed first hand buy the prices are extremely to high and other issues such as jobs and education are irrelevant. Vacant public housing in Miami is one the highest levels in the nation but hasn’t done much to occupy them; they would rather condemn them and later have a redevelopment for them. Bernadette Armand and social activist spoke in front of the city’s bureaucracy and stated:
“There are over 41,000 people on Miami-Dade’s housing assistance wait list; meanwhile, the Board of County Commissioners is allowing many of these public housing units to remain vacant for five years or more. They do not want to address or solve this gentrification and housing crisis.”
This women was bringing up an excellent social crisis which is leaving the poor under the bridge with no where to live and just for that this women and other activist were arrested that day. Her message was definitely heard by city officials, developers, and investors and that message is people will stand up, be heard, and defend their rights to the land.
This social issue of gentrifying an urban area is actually a huge deal people are not seeing the whole puzzle their just looking at the pieces in hand. Gentrification can be a beautiful thing in certain areas; yes we do need to clean up our communities have better housing for the people but not to drive the people of origin out of their homes. Seriously people are getting notices that where they have been living for years and some all their lives that their home is no longer their home and they will never see their homes again. Originally, gentrification is to describe the residential movement of middle-class people into the low-income areas but not just clearly to remove the people which whom have been living in the low-income areas all their lives.
(Poem) By William Breveard
time been gone now i'm speakin do I need that extension shit?
Christopher Wallace said the sky is the limit bitch.
so I live by it, reach higher, pursuing all my goals deal is what I desire. emotional leader spark under that fire. waving signs on the corner saying rapper for hire.
call it how i see 40 years past the 70s, i still don't see peace. no gangsta till the death of me. this is who I am, why change for a man, couldn't put my finger on it best believe I understand.
what good is your followers if they weak minded, the world could never see George bush had em blinded.
no one man should have so much power to have complete control, speaking the truth most of time when will i see justice.
look over ya shoulder, see uncle Sam. whatever you do he sure do stick out his hand.
the other day I drove past a homeless family, appreciate my life and people that's surrounding me.
I think randomly, shit pardon my French.
I'm working twisting to be loved, willie the wrench.
Mentally confined, didn't catch it? rewind. get one life to live so make it one of a kind.
government don't wanna expose, the truth behind
their lies but we realist already know the lines. what's wrong with the world, don't believe in us, talk down on our generation, say our music is mistreating us. But really they the ones misleading us.
friends come and change enemies never do, I rather have them at least I know the feeling is true.
now you got ya own team that's ya bros that's ya crew? but when shit gets heavy we'll see who really got you.
don't expect me to give back to the goverment, I ain't gotta ask twice cus I know my girl lovin it.
I spit some ish u could go and pull it out the oven wit, and if the world is my thanksgiving then u know a I'm stuffin it.
music brings pain love joy & attitude, If I don't love you right; you go lay up wit another dude?
People is lost please build they self esteem and let em know be yourself or do I gotta show em the dream?
ya forget love and forget friends homie, cus in the end my family they will never disown me.
speaking my mind and I don't care who I offend, I don't really need support it come and go just like the wind.
every night is 4/20 every night is new years, every day we celebrate and thank god for being here.
we run in transition y'all tryna get back and defend, shoot em up
y'all pretend we win when we contend.