Why is it, when the subject of gentrification is brought up, people immediately think that white people are invading to take over (and push others out) and put in fancy coffee shops, wine bars, nice sit-down restaurants, upscale retail stores, while property values go up, like those are such a horrible thing for a community. But when other ethnic groups come into a community (and take over say Pakistani people and Middle Eastern people in parts of Jamaica) and crappy retail and low class food places appear, one family homes are torn down to put up cheap low class three story apartment building to house 20 families, yards are cemented over, trees cut down, illegal curb cut and illegal parking pads appear, garbage cans overflowing with no lids and all kinds of garbage and litter are dumped everywhere, then this is considered “diverse and vibrant” from the powers to be.
Ask most people (of any ethnic group) and more than likely they will go with the former, gentrification. Because gentrification improves a neighborhood, standards go up, a better selection of stores and restaurants, a clean environment, pride in a community where people care. I mean who in their right mind wants to live in filth, garbage and high crime where you watch the value of your home drop.
This so-called “evil” of gentrification has recently been demonized by none other than super rich Spike Lee ( http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/gentrification-spike-lee-article-1.1703113) who has a multimillion dollar mansion on the Upper East Side. Mr. Lee, as much as I love your films, you do not get a say so in this subject matter, maybe when you were a struggling artist in Fort Green, but no more, just as people like Jay Z, 50 cent and all the other mega rich rappers do not get a say so in this anymore while they live in their mansions in gated communities.
All communities want to better themselves, at least I hope so, even Jamaica, but to do that, if you cannot get your shit together like Jamaica, then it is time for gentrification. Jamaica has had decades to improve themselves on their own and they have failed miserably. Quality of life in Jamaica has just gotten worse, so now it is time for gentrification.
Sure some people will get pushed out, just like so many people over the ages have been pushed out of areas when change comes, that is the way of the world. But the benefits of gentrification certainly outweigh any negative as some people being pushed out. Take Jamaica for instance, if gentrification starts to take place, yes, some people will definitely have to look elsewhere, especially renters, but many who get pushed out are the same ones who are causing the issues in Jamaica, the ones who toss their garbage and litter anywhere they want. But most people benefit, especially the home owners and in the case of Jamaica, black home owners, who will finally see the value of their home increase as opposed to decrease.
With gentrification, comes a decrease in crime, a higher quality of life, a cleaner community, better schools, an increase in choices of quality retail and restaurants where one does not have to leave their community in search of those things, a higher tax base which helps with improvements and more employment opportunities. It is a win-win, no matter how you look at it.
So yeah, for those like Spike Lee and other who want to condemn gentrification like it is some “evil white master plan”, tell me where you would rather live, garbage strewn high crime Jamaica with very few quality restaurants and retail shops or Mr. Lee’s former home, Fort Greene, with it’s clean streets, low crime, and many choices of fine dining and a sense of a prideful community?