Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Question of the Day: Dismantling gentrificiation as a white person

Here's a question that's been bugging me for awhile:

How do I, as a middle class, highly educated white person committed to dismantling white privilege, find, move and live into* a multicultural neighborhood without contributing to gentrification?

Any thoughts?

*I choose into deliberately because I want to live into the life of my neighborhood. I want to contribute to the well-being of my neighborhood and actively take part in events and my neighbor's lives.


Joy-Mari Cloete said...

As one of my colleagues would say -- "Awesome question. Very well presented"

I don't have any answer today but I'm sure someone else would give an awesome answer.

Mostly I just want to say 'kudus' to you for thinking and asking such questions.

kathrynquimby said...

This is a really important question, and one that I feel most white folks don't think about enough so thanks for posting. Gentrification is one of those things that can sneak attack a community without people noticing until it's impossible to stop. One important thing to remember is that just you moving into one house in a neighborhood will not sprout gentrification. However, your friends seeing the amazing neighborhood you live in and snatching up multiple homes around you is where gentrification happens. And you going into a neighborhood and taking on the task of single-handedly creating community is where gentrification happens. And one of the most glaring examples of gentrification that is overlooked is white folks moving into neighborhoods and immediately going for "beautification" of said neighborhood is where gentrification occurs. Wanting to help with community gardens, etc is not the issue, but planting a tree just for the sake of having a tree in front of your house is. Also, going into whatever neighborhood as a listener more than a talker is of course important. I hope that some of this was helpful and not too redundant :)

Xenu01 said...

This is a question I struggle with a lot. In my experience, the process of gentrification does not happen with white people immersing themselves in the neighborhood; it happens when white people live on TOP of the neighborhood- 50 people cramming into a bedroom-sized bar for bluegrass night in West Philadelphia, for instance, instead of going out for drinks in the amply-sized Ethiopian restaurant and bar downstairs. I would like to see the answer from a person on color, and I'll see if I can't find something of that nature.

lindsay said...

I'm particularly interested from hearing about white people's thoughts on doing this - the lived experience of it, you know?

I think it's important to be a part of the neighborhood - to play a role in fostering community without ignoring or steamrolling the efforts already in place by other people. For me, being a good neighbor probably makes up a big part of it. By a good neighbor, I mean the kind that actively cares for and about the others, both individually and on a corporate/institutional level. (See Yale/New Haven as an example of a bad neighbor)

Rosa said...

Find an actual multicultural neighborhood that's already at a reasonably stable mix, and replace some white people who are moving out. You're a force of anti-gentrification if you're less gentrified than the people who used to live where you do now.

Or the cheaper option: find a neighborhood that used to be white and is moving toward being more mixed, and move in there.

I guess that doesn't work if you have a specific neighborhood in mind that's already gentrifying, but both options are pretty foolproof.