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Shutter up ’em windows the white folks be movin’ in! Or, the most racist thing I will ever write.

November 4, 2011

It’s been too long since I regaled you with another dumbed down interpretation of a word you should know, so today’s it! I was inspired to write this after a community meeting last night in which a lady, appropriately named Queen, barked out, “We holding on to what we got. We not gonna let them come gentrify our neighborhoods.” Following my adventure to Rail~Volution last week where I learned that everything I do is for white people, I thought it’d be appropriate to make a little blog post about gentrification.

Gentrification means white people are taking over. They may also be gay, they most likely are myopic little twits, but they most certainly are white.

Dog parks are for white people.

Bike lanes? White people.

Sidewalks? Coffee shops? TOD? All white people!

So apparently only white people ride tricycles pulled by dogs on the sidewalks to the coffee shop for some caffeinated love in a reusable, BPA free mug. (I mean, that’s what dog parks are for, right? Training dogs to pull? I don’t know, I live in Chambodia. We eat dogs.)

Queen went on to talk about how all the white people fled Atlanta to the suburbs and thought those left behind would just die. When they didn’t die, but instead stayed there and thrived, the white people started coming back to take over.

I’ll give her that, but it’s not that simple. Our grandparents and parents moved to the suburbs. They were frightened or driven by some idea of the white picket fence and two acres and better schools or lured by cheaper housing costs or they were just plain nuts, but it was never *my* choice to move out there, I was drug (technically my folks moved out of town to a farm before I was born, but whatever, not my choice.)

But my friends and I? We went studied abroad and learned about livability and transit and went to college and lived in dorms and learned about community and when we graduated we didn’t want those big McMansions in the burbs with yards for kids we wanted dense urban living with transit and the option to not need a car. Know where we found it? In the cities, and in traditionally minority neighborhoods.

Gentrification isn’t about taking over and running out the people who have lived there for years, we just want to be a part of the lifestyle you made and preserved.

You guys did it better than our parents.

So yea, we may move in and do some crazy thing like try to add bike lanes, but that benefits everyone, particularly those that can’t afford cars and have to bike. It’s for everyone’s safety. And that dog park? That raises the property values on your home, too. I know you’ve survived all these years without us and without these stereotypical white amenities (PS, is it so white if there are no bike lanes in the suburbs?) but we just want to integrate ourselves into the community and strengthen it. Don’t blame us for our ancestor’s choices; we want the same things as you, safe streets with lights and transit options and job access and a strong, healthy, community.

Is that so white?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 4, 2011 8:09 pm

    I agree that everybody wants the same things in their neighborhood amenities, but sometimes what people like Queen are saying is that gentrification may mean the end to people like her in that area. All of the wonderful things that gentrifying brings to increase the property value also work to raise the property taxes that eventually force the old-timers to leave and make it difficult for some newcomers to buy in.

    • November 5, 2011 11:11 pm

      I agree. But I wasn’t trying to justify gentrification, just trying to say its not about race but generations.

      • November 5, 2011 11:11 pm

        I don’t think I was clear enough about that. Thanks!

  2. Jonathan permalink
    January 5, 2012 10:39 am

    Good stuff, and a very valid concern. Gentrification can of course be a good thing, but as Toni explained, it can also be bad. It is good when people buy up boarded up/run down/abandoned homes and fix them up and contribute to the community, but it is obviously bad when people cannot pay the property taxes on the home they have lived in for many years. It continues to shock me that we have not found a solution to this, especially in a city such as Atlanta. Maybe we need to do some research and get to work on changing this.

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