More On Gentrification

“The metamorphosis of Linux from a free, hobbyist software environment to a major revenue-producing operating system is occurring with the same surety and swiftness of a neighborhood undergoing gentrification.” -Laura DiDio

I mentioned earlier that my neighborhood is in the midst of gentrification.  Whenever things change, for any reason, it causes controversy.   In DC, the overall black population is declining, while the total population is expanding, and that has some concerned that DC will soon no longer be the “Chocolate City.” (Editor’s note: Baltimore, however, will still be called “Brown Town”.)

Natalie Hopkinson, staff reporter for the Washington Post, wrote a piece back in 2001 about how she and her family weren’t going to “let DC lose its flavor.”  The title of the piece (I Won’t Let DC Lose Its Flavor) is condescending.  But there is more than that.

The author discusses how she doesn’t want DC to lose another black family to the suburbs and she’s helping to keep DC black by choosing to live in a neighborhood (mine) which is in the process of being gentrified. Respectably, she doesn’t want to be another middle class black family who moves to the ‘burbs instead of staying to help to improve an ailing (and mostly black) neighborhood.  However, she seems to forget that gentrification has much less to do with the colors black and white and much more to do with the color green.

Look, if you’re middle class and you move to a poorer neighborhood, you’re gentrifying. A black family’s money raises property values as much as a white family’s does. Gentrification has a lot less to do with race and a lot more to do with socioeconomic status.  The face of gentrification is white because whites typically have more resources than blacks.  Increasing the cost of living is going to put out blacks (who typically have fewer resources), regardless of the face behind the increase.