Race / Economy
There Are Plenty of Ways to Combat Gentrification
by Ansel Herz
on Fri, Apr 25, 2014 at 6:09 PM
So this article by Daniel Hertz (no relation) called "There's Basically No Way Not to Be a Gentrifier" is making the rounds. And the whole thing is great, especially this part directed specifically at college-educated, upwardly mobile young people:
You can't escape the role you play in displacement any more than a white person can escape their whiteness, because those are both subject to systemic processes that have created your relevant status and assigned its consequences. Among the classes, there is no division between "gentrifiers" and "non-gentrifiers." If you live in a city, you don't get to opt out.
Good analogy. The headline, as it turns out, is misleading clickbait. Hertz isn't saying you can't do anything about your role in gentrification—he's saying don't confuse personal lifestyle choices with political action. There's plenty of things you can to do stop gentrification. Because just like there are white people who engage in anti-racist activism, one can resist gentrification by doing any of the following:
None of your personal decisions about where or how to live will have any effect on gentrification. Being considerate to your neighbors might make you a good person, but I'd like to suggest that you have another kind of responsibility: to be aware of these underlying systemic processes and use what social and political power you have to change them. The exact solutions can be debated, but I would start by lobbying your local government for housing subsidies for the low-income, protections against eviction due to rising rents, and an end to exclusionary caps on housing construction that keep prices artificially high.
Or you can, say, stand with the last black owner of a nightclub in a gentrified area while the city tries to shut him down (again). Or engage in dramatic public protests designed to draw people's attention to displacement and corporations that dodge taxes (meaning less money for affordable housing). There's tons of stuff you can do. Choose one, do it, and—poof!—you're less of a gentrifier than you were before.