Reading this article was really really difficult. The entire premise of it is based on the idea that “gentrification” is about *feelings* and “misunderstandings” rather than very real resource hoarding and withdrawals.
These paragraphs are probably the most problematic point in a really problematic article—the idea that gentrification isn’t *that* bad because folks who are ‘shoved out’ can just buy another house!
I’m going to leave the most obvious point alone—that to many many people, even a house that is “only” $5000-10,000 is often prohibitively expensive (which is why so many people are renting even when houses are “only” that much), and I’m going to instead focus on the point this article begins with—the story about how exciting it is to see people making over $100,000 a year organizing community potlucks and get togethers.
It takes a stable strong community for community building projects of any sort to happen. Parents don’t generally leave their children with some total stranger down the street who just moved in two weeks ago—and conversely, what are parents supposed to do when the person they’ve trusted enough to leave their child with leaves after three months because they can’t afford their house payment any longer?
Why is it ok to ask the people who need community the most and who use community building as a way to address actual problems in their communities (vandalism, youth violence, schools shutting down, etc) to uproot (that is: destroy) their community integrity to make Detroit “nicer” for people who, through tax breaks, investments, incentives, city policies, and oh, those nice hundred thousand dollar paychecks, can make Detroit “nicer” all by themselves?
The casual treatment by the OP of poor people’s need for stable dedicated community is astonishing, but sadly, not uncommon. As a good friend and local activist pointed out, it’s just taken for granted in ALL areas of heavy gentrification that poor people have nothing of value to offer a city—that they don’t have community driven agendas that actively make those cities “nicer.”
Gentrification is not about “feelings” or “not liking change”—it’s about an actual competition for resources. Lifetime Detroiters are not suspicious of “the suits” (to draw on OP’s example) because “the suits” were too arrogant or blew smoke from over priced cigars in their faces.
It is because the resources different neighborhoods need to survive as those thriving communities that the OP loves so much have been literally taken from them and given to people making a hundred thousand a year. This *causes* bad blood—but the bad blood is not the problem. The taking the resources is. The casual indifference of the integrity and value of poor communities is. Safe, well resourced, stable communities is a human right *even for poor people* .
Not something to be sold to the highest bidder.
Demonstrate a willingness to participate in the city’s improvement rather than fight it at every turn. You know what’s been great? Seeing community involvement at Detroit Works. It shows that you genuinely care and are more concerned with finding solutions that soothing egos. Let’s put problem-solving over pride… something Detroit (and Detroiters) are not always known for doing.
Is just absolutely stunning to me. This person is talking about the same people who are actively organizing against school closures, heavy industry pollution, and home foreclosures among other massive problems, and who are organizing to create new media economies, youth led movements, food structures that are grounded in justice, health systems that are affordable for poor people…and so so so many other things.
It’s absolutely a sign of the OP’s ignorance that he doesn’t know these things. That he doesn’t know how much of these actions are grounded in the communities that he’s so casual about uprooting.
Clearly OP and similar folks have never:
1. Tried to live without a car as the only means of transport and how much of life depends on being in the magic triangle of commuting that gives you groceries, work, and access to your kids’ schools/daycare.
2. Tried to get an apartment when you don’t have good credit
3. Had to have family, friends, or neighbors live close by in order to help take care of children, sick, or elderly family
Beyond all that, the housing discrimination. Loan discrimination. This is true both in the downward spiral of Black owned businesses and the ways in which they do not recover from these uprooting.
But let’s also talk about policing. How gentrification doesn’t involve making the neighborhood safer - it involves “increased police presence” which always translates to harassing the people who have lived there for decades in favor of the people who are suddenly moving.
Let’s talk about how cities only redevelop WHEN the plan is to move out the original folks - all the taxes these people paid didn’t go into their communities- it was shunted elsewhere to redevelop some OTHER part of the city - now that the land is cheap enough push these folks out so they can do the same thing again.
Last night in my hometown a man named Lucas Dane Stevens fled police in his vehicle leading to a high-speed chase in which he rammed a patrol car, then pulled a knife on officers after fleeing his car on foot.
He was on methamphetamine and had 5.2 grams of the drug on him. And he had a knife. The cops didn’t think he had one, he had one, and he tried to hurt them with it. Nonetheless, he’s alive and well and sitting in an air-conditioned jail on a $173,000 bond.
Unlike Michael Laney of Charlotte, North Carolina, Stevens was arrested. Stevens was not handcuffed and shot in the back of the head and written off as a “suspect” simply because he was riding a red scooter.
One of these men had a weapon. One did not. One was on drugs. One was sober. One is alive. One is dead. One was the suspect. One was the victim.
One is white. One is—was—black. That’s all it takes, folks. That’s white privilege. Check yours, fellow white people. Seriously. We call 911 for help all the time and don’t get shot execution style. This shit has to stop!!