The Oxford Dictionary definition:
the process of renovating and improving a house or district so that it conforms to middle-class taste.
The Real World definition:
well-to-do white professionals buying dilapidated residential and commercial structures in rundown ghettos populated by the working (and non-working) poor at low prices, driving them out because increased property values mean higher rents which they can’t afford, then spending tens of thousands of dollars on renovations and upgrades, opening avant garde galleries and trendy restaurants, coffee shops and bars and living in fabulous homes and apartments with exposed brick walls, original hardwood floors with hand-carved rails and trim beneath high ceilings where carefully selected blends of antique and contemporary furniture mingle with prints and paintings by artists no one really knows (but nothing enhances ones illusion of gravitas more than art knowledge: “Ahh, Chirico, so compelling – so mysterious”). The granite countertops, the stainless steel backsplash and the pewter hardware adorning the cherry cabinets were all mined in “oppressed” nations, delivered to port on fossil fuel propelled trucks, shipped across the ocean on gigantic steel-hulled ships and ultimately delivered to the front door by men driving fossil fuel propelled trucks, “but let’s talk about what we can do to raise awareness about Global Climate Change over a steaming vente double Latte later at the Sentient Bean.” Forget that the Cherry Wood cabinets are from real trees that were cut down by real men with gas-powered chainsaws. Like every other business, in order to maintain a constant supply of product, they don’t need you to raise awareness about tree conservation. Their capitalist self interest takes care of that. They wouldn’t be in business very long if they didn’t do everything in their power to generate a constant and reliable supply of their product, but if it makes you feel better you can still lament that their motives are profit-driven, not altruistic – and when little Oliver or Jasper or Mindi (with an i) are school-aged it’s understood they will under no circumstances attend a (Fill in the name of your city here) Public School (you never gave a second thought to their poor physical condition and subpar academic records until you had children of your own).
“There must be some quality private schools nearby, right honey?”
The truth is, I have absolutely no issue at all with gentrification. I support it completely. It’s as fine an example of capitalism as you’ll find. Buy low / Sell high. Nothing is more American than making a profit.
The displacement of the poor doesn’t bother me either. Capitalism has winners and losers. There are other homes and apartments they can rent or buy while they work their way up the economic foodchain until they can afford to move into their old (now gentrified) neighborhood.
What I object to are the very people who’ve displaced the poor and don’t want them anywhere near their newly renovated neighborhoods, lecturing me and others about diversity (they talk the talk but don’t walk the walk) police oppression (who do they think keeps them safe while they run the streets at night in their sporty UnderArmour or Nike or Adidas gear stitched together in communist Vietnamese sweatshops, with armband-mounted cellphones and FitBits made by Chinese wage-slaves strapped to their wrists) and global warming (coal and natural gas provide the energy that powers their Keurigs and charges their iPads).
The reason I like hanging out in the taverns, restaurants and galleries of these reclaimed parts of town is because of their complete lack of diversity. I feel safe under the umbrella of robust police protection and I appreciate the neon lights, live music, HVAC and great food all delivered to me, unseen and unheard, courtesy of fossil fuel-driven energy plants.
The difference between Us is simple:
The practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.
**Originally Posted on 2 Dec 2017**