Oakland Local

Photo, Oakland Local, https://www.flickr.com/photos/42553518@N06/4899691323/lightbox/?w=42553518@N06&q=kids 

Do you ever wonder if you are a gentrifier?
Answer these questions to find out…

When you moved to your current city was it because you were forced out of your native city due to sky rocketing rental prices or did you “choose” to move to your current city because you “liked the people, food and culture”?
if you picked the second response, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are a gentrifier BUT KEEP ANSWERING QUESTIONS….

When you moved to the neighborhood you currently lived in was it a priority to learn more about the community that was established before you got there and who the community leaders were on your block –or did it never cross your mind because “it doesn’t matter, you’re barely going to be at home”?

When you got to your community did you get to know why things were the way they were before you moved in or did you start to think of all the things that needed to be “fixed” ?

When you got to your new community did you ask community leaders what issues the community was already working on, attended community meetings and then decided to support those issues instead of/in addition to beautifying your neighborhood or did you get all fired up about addressing community issues like “beautifying” the neighborhood because it “needed foliage”?

Have you got to know the names of the youth that use your street as a playground or do you shake your head and question why they are “in the streets” playing?

Do you consider EVERYONE your neighbors (the homeless, drug dealers and sex workers too) or do you only call the people you have deemed “suitable” as neighbors?

Do you check your privilege when seeing your drug-addicted or “down on their luck” neighbors and acknowledge that poverty and addiction are the result of systemic oppression, or do you shake your head and wonder why they “just don’t get their shit together”?

Do you patronize mom and pop stores and small, local businesses when you look for restaurants to go to or places to shop or do you immediately head to the swanky new boutique?

Do you think of calling the cops on your neighbors for things you wouldn’t call the cops for if it was you, like double parking in the street while you caught up with an old friend who flagged you down, or getting together with your friends from college to drink some cocktails or beers on your front steps?

Do you give to local organizations and groups trying to improve your City and community by fighting for the City’s most disenfranchised community members to have their basic needs met and justice– or do you save your money for big charities that get thousands of dollars and do half the work most local community groups do?

If you answered the latter for most of these questions, there is a 99.9% chance you are a gentrifier.
(I leave that sliver of percentage for you to make excuses why you are not, although, don’t make excuses to me).

 

Editor’s Note: This piece reflects an individual opinion and is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland.
For guidelines, see:http://oaklandlocal.com/guidelines/

 

Follow our coverage of gentrification issues here:

51 thoughts on “Do you ever wonder if you are a gentrifier? (Community Voices)

  1. It’s nice of you to try to make gentrifiers feel good about themselves if they are “nice people”, but gentrification is an economic reality, not a moral condition. Gentrification occurs when the socioeconomic (and often, racial) balance of a neighborhood shifts.

    Middle class people who move in can be good or bad neighbors, can care or not care, but they are still all gentrifiers. Their “reasons” for moving into a neighborhood have nothing to do with it. The amount of money they have and make does.

    Trying to redefine “gentrifier” as a “bad person” gives some gentrifiers a free ride to pretend that they aren’t.

  2. Someone should write a companion piece to this, titled “Are some of your friends gentrifiers? You don’t have to perform emotional labor in order for them and you to feel okay about it. It’s actually their job to perform their own emotional labor.”

  3. Are you a hater?

    Make a list of questions about what you don’t like about what might be going on in the heads of people other than yourself.

    Do you know the difference between hating and understanding?

    Do people whom you think might have thoughts that you don’t like deserve to live?

  4. Am I a gentrifier? Did I pass your test? Maybe. Maybe not. The fact is, I don’t care either way. I moved here a few years ago. And I might move away in a few years time. If that offends you, you’re weird. And you probably have too much time on your hands as normal people don’t spend their days worrying about what other people, people they don’t know, are doing or not doing with themselves. Is Oakland changing? Yeah. Duh. It’s a dynamic city not a fucking museum. Oakland changed 40 years ago. It changed 30 years ago. It managed to change again 20 years ago. You’ll be shocked to hear it changed 10 years ago. I can guarantee it will change again in 10 years. If you don’t like that, you’re going to live a very frustrating life because it’s going to happen whether you like it or not, whether I like it or not. Oh, and I’ll shop where I feel like shopping. I’ll give money where and when I feel like giving. I’ll eat where I feel like eating. That’s what you do, right? Am I held to a different standard just because you’ve lived here longer? Or do you frequent places you don’t like just to feed your sanctimonious ego? Anyway, these rants about gentrification are becoming decidely tiresome. That much I do know.

    • Jonatton- well said and my thoughts exactly.
      OaklandLocal, you seem to really enjoy cultivating disharmony and intolerance, then pointing at it and crying “see! Disharmony and intolerance!”
      You lost this reader today.

    • Mind meld. Thank you.

      I’d also like to point out the fact that the street runs both ways.
      I’ve been here well over a decade, same house, same block, many of the same neighbors, whom i interact with, and yes, many degrees of people. I can say there are definitely folks, some bitter folks, totally uninterested in creating a bond with me. Whatever. Do your thing. No sweat off my back. Just don’t make me feel like shit for the choice you made.

      So you’re pissed people are moving in? It’s gonna happen. The Italians were moved out, anyone crying for them? Anyone shedding a tear for the Korean restaurant owners on Telegraph when that Korean chain restaurant on moved in? Speaking of “mom & pop” shops.

      Again, the street runs both ways. Wanna make friends? Then shake hands.

      Oakland Local, you sure like to ruffle the dirt and kick a few knees in the process.

  5. Thanks Christina,

    I disagree with Jonathan that the discussion about gentriifcation has gotten “tiresome.” I do agree that as Oakland changes, so does the discussion on gentrification.

    I wouldn’t dismiss your essay as “ranting.” I say it is part of the “diversity” of viewpoints on the topic of Oakland’s gentrification.

  6. Way to go Oaklandlocal. You’ve managed to re-write another ignorant “piece” on Gentrification. All of the same ridiculous statements sure to “open up a dialog”. It’s but bound to get some mileage, maybe people will share it on FB.

    At least this article cuts to the chase without much filler.

  7. Can we do a piece “Do you think you scare your new gentrifier neighbor with your saggy pants, hoody, dirty portch, smoking blunts and not changing the perception that you are trying to get a job?”. I think us gentrifiers can at least have some fun every once in a while.

    Please write stories that bring people together (in a positive way). I can write a joke that includes bad words and get a reaction. Trying to get a reaction without using bad words is a little tougher. Go Oakland.

  8. do saggy pants, hoodies and smoking blunts scare new neighbors? or is it the (unstated) inference that blunt-smoking, hoody-wearing, saggy-pantsed neighbors are–gasp!–black and brown? the references to dirty porches and unemployment are cheap shots that don’t make the racial undertones of this comment any funnier.

    thank you, edson. thank you for engaging in racist class warfare, from the side of the colonizer. you have justified the stereotypes about your ilk by stereotyping your neighbors. had you shown a concern for underemployment, economic challenges, and environmental pollution impacting people living in neighborhoods undergoing gentrification, you might have escaped such designation.

    sorry your new neighbors cant afford expensive wine, gourmet cheese, and cocaine. they don’t work for tech companies or faceless corporations. if you were a good neighbor, you’d offer to share a blunt with residents who have been here longer than you. You might even gain some new friends that way.

  9. “Who enjoys false dilemmas? I know I do!”

    “dichotomies, rather”

    “Can you elaborate?”

    The pot calling the kettle black.

    Translation: we live in a money-dominated, colonial, exploitative culture. All of us who live in this culture, rich or poor, brown, pink or chartreuse, breathe the same air.

  10. “we live in a money-dominated, colonial, exploitative culture. All of us who live in this culture, rich or poor, brown, pink or chartreuse, breathe the same air.”

    Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily true. the air quality in Piedmont, for example, is notably better than the air quality in East or West Oakland, which is among the worst in the entire state of California.

    We need to ask ourselves, are we resigned to greedy capitalist values, or can we address colonial mentalities and the exploitation of the poor in a way that uplifts the underclass, instead of going out of our way to add insult to injury.

    The debate over gentrification can be a ponderous one, or it can be one where we work together to find mutually-beneficial solutions. Oakland, the choice is yours.

  11. ““we live in a money-dominated, colonial, exploitative culture. All of us who live in this culture, rich or poor, brown, pink or chartreuse, breathe the same air.”

    “Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily true. the air quality in Piedmont, for example, is notably better than the air quality in East or West Oakland, which is among the worst in the entire state of California.”

    The quality of the culture (i.e. “air” metaphorically) in Piedmont is much the same as the quality of culture in Deep East Oakland. And as to air properly speaking, very few in Piedmont or Deep East pay any attention to something like air quality and its health effects.

    Most everywhere in the US it’s all about money, whether you have money or just want more money. There’s never enough. About being colonial–them’s that’s picked on are out hunting others to pick on. Exploitation–you’ve gotta rip off anyone you can, legally or illegally, because life is all about you rather than we.

    The difference between Piedmont and Deep East, etc., is that the mofos In Piedmont know how look out for their own butts–they decided to incorporate–while the folks in Deep East keep electing Mayors and Council members who are Reaganesque “trickle-down” deceivers who are much more interested in seeing their own faces on TV than getting involved with their home folks.

  12. Thanks OaklandLocal for these essays on gentrification.

    R2D2ii wrote “The pot calling the kettle black.”

    Well, I do love me some black.

    Then R2D2ii wrote:

    “The difference between Piedmont and Deep East, etc., is that the mofos In Piedmont know how look out for their own butts–they decided to incorporate–while the folks in Deep East keep electing Mayors and Council members who are Reaganesque “trickle-down” deceivers who are much more interested in seeing their own faces on TV than getting involved with their home folks.”

    You’re kidding, right?

  13. Edson wrote:

    “Can we do a piece “Do you think you scare your new gentrifier neighbor with your saggy pants, hoody, dirty portch, smoking blunts and not changing the perception that you are trying to get a job?”. I think us gentrifiers can at least have some fun every once in a while.”

    “Please write stories that bring people together (in a positive way). I can write a joke that includes bad words and get a reaction. Trying to get a reaction without using bad words is a little tougher. Go Oakland.”

    Edson, Why don’t you write it? It’s your perspective.

    The last good one was Steve Koff’s piece. That was really unifying, wasn’t it?

  14. Oaklandnative says “I disagree with Jonathan that the discussion about gentrification has gotten “tiresome.” I do agree that as Oakland changes, so does the discussion on gentrification.”

    I have to disagree with you because it is tiresome. Why is it tiresome? Because the same people will make the same points and but yet nothing is really going to get done. You acknowledge that Oakland changes but yet from the many comments that you’ve written, it’s very clear that you want things to be the way they use to be.

    The question I have for the author is why the double standard? If you asked these very same questions to the people who are so called “Natives”, you’ll be surprised that they are not the saints that you perceive that they are. Being a native here doesn’t grant you a special privilege nor does it mean you’re entitled to do as you please either.

  15. “You’re kidding, right?”

    1. It’s April Fool’s Day or
    2. The people in Deep East Oakland are doing really well or
    3. You’re a very thoughtful reader.

  16. These “essays” or whatever you want to call them are not discussions. They’re the same tired points being repeated verbatim.

    It’s people who have lived in Oakland for some period of time who seem to have this idea in their head that they, because of this unknown period of residence, have the right to tell other people how to live their lives. The recommendations for life-living have included befriending drug dealers, making nice with people who drive like maniacs, and smoking blunts with the neighbours.

    There’s this assumption that because one has lived in a zip code for a while longer than someone else, their experience is more important and should be pandered to. These so-called “natives” appear to want to tell people where to shop, how to dress, what to eat, and how to talk.

    Sorry, not going to happen.

    New residents will complain about child prostitution because they should complain about child prostitution. New residents won’t tolerate trash in the streets because they shouldn’t tolerate trash in the streets. New residents won’t make besties with the corner drug dealers because that’s the daftest idea I’ve ever heard. People don’t have to tolerate deviant and unlawful behavior simply because it was there first. That line of reasoning is self-defeating, vulgar, and totally unrealistic.

    It’s also not going to happen.

    These “essays” or whatever have created this boogie man that, frankly, I don’t think exists. It’s like the people moving to Oakland are something akin to a Tea Party-supporting, Google-bus-riding, Darth Vadar-loving monster. They are not.

    I can speak for myself when I say I’m left leaning, I support any and all educational opportunities for marginalized communities, and I spend my days running HIV programs for the un- and under-insured; the majority of whom being people of color. Oh, yeah. And I’m white so I must do that out of privilege or guilt or entitlement or something (I don’t). I appreciate the systemic issues and economic hardships that many youth of color face. But just because I don’t personally face them doesn’t mean I have all the fucking answers. Nor does it mean I should just grind my life to a hault in solidarity.

    Two recent Oakland “colonizers” I met include a teacher and a social worker; you know, people who, like, don’t make much money but do their best to help others. These people don’t need to adjust their moral compass just to make you happy. They won’t be made to feel guilty for moving to a place they can afford. You can call them colonizer, gentrifier, or whatever else. But that would make you divisive, not them.

    So what if a few people like that new sustainable hummus boutique. Who cares. If you don’t like it, don’t go. I don’t like Chinese food. I live right by Chinatown. I don’t bemoan its existence simply because I’m not going to go. There’s a barber shop by my house that doesn’t exactly cater to my blonde, wavy hair. Well other people seem to like it so who the hell am I to have an opinion.

    If you want to dislike me because I just moved here, well go ahead. I’m still going to be here until I’m not. And, let’s be serious here, if it wasn’t that I just moved here it would be something else because people who hate just flat out hate and people who are miserable are just flat out miserable.

  17. You CHOSE to move to a neighborhood and then complain about your neighbors. Bring out the violin.

    You look down on your neighbors, but you have now have chosen to join them. You are now one of them.

    If you are so much better, can do so much better, then why don’t you do better?

    And Jonathan, as for working for an HIV clinic, I wonder how much time do you spend blaming your clients and telling them how superior you think you are.

    So please gentrifiers, write an essay that unifies

  18. I disagree that the subject of the gentrification problem is tiresome. Every gentrifier I’ve spoken to has no idea of the controversy.

  19. The only violin I’m hearing is the incessant moaning from people like yourself.

    Do I think I’m better than the adult who beats up 16 year old prostitutes on the corner of 22nd and International? Yeah. I do. Do I think I’m better than the adult who uses grade school children as look-outs so they can slang their wares on the corner? Yeah. I do. Do I think I’m better than the adult who throws his Burger King wrapper on the ground despite there being a garbage can four feet away? Yeah. I do.

    Guess what. The law agrees with me.

    If you believe pimping, drug dealing, and trash creating are vital parts of the Oakland Native Community, you’re welcome to draft legislation to make these activities legal and maybe you’ll succeed at making them social respectable. In the meantime, us new residents are going to look at these behaviors at detrimental to Oakland because they are detrimental to Oakland; they are detrimental to everywhere anywhere.

    Anyone who is a-okay with pimping underage girls can get gentrified the fuck out. Do. Not. Care.

    The fact that you consider drug dealers and pimps to be “neighbors” is pretty damn sad. I mean, seriously. Have the standards of social decorum in certain Oakland communities really fallen that far? Really?

    And nice try with the word twist about my choice of occupation. Your ignorance shines brighly through. When someone tests positive for HIV/AIDS they receive services to discuss their risk behaviors such as unsafe sexual practices and harm reduction drug use. Because guess what: HIV is pretty damn hard to get. More often than not, if you get HIV these days, you messed up. The end. This isn’t a matter of blame, it’s a matter of personal responsibility. Do you know what that is? Personal responsibility? That’s a serious question.

    Your arrogance shines through as brightly as your ignorance. Why am I not doing better? I’m doing just fine. Not that it’s any of your business. And I don’t have to write an essay that “unifies.” I don’t need to “unify” anything. I don’t owe you anything.

  20. Jonathan,

    Nice try twisting the facts. Your clients are more likely to be the 16 year old prostitute than the adult who beats up him/her. Do you think you’re better than the 16-year old client? Do you share your sense of supeiority with them?

    You have experiences with very specific groups in Oakland. They are not all African Americans. They are not all African Americans in Oakland.

  21. You don’t have the slightest idea what you’re talking about. You have no clue who is more or less likely to be a client of our programs. For one, they have to be over 18 so this idea that the clients are “more likely to be the 16 year old prostitute” is just flat out BS.

    The rest of your comment makes no sense whatsoever. Your idea of a “discussion” appears to be talking in circles with peculiar accusations and foundationless red herrings. Good luck with that. You say that the “gentrifiers” have no idea of the controversy. That’s probably because your thoughts on the matter are incoherent and vague. The “gentrifiers” are probably trying to figure out what the hell it is you’re trying to say.

  22. “The quality of the culture (i.e. “air” metaphorically) in Piedmont is much the same as the quality of culture in Deep East Oakland. And as to air properly speaking, very few in Piedmont or Deep East pay any attention to something like air quality and its health effects. ”

    i’m not sure what point you’re trying to make here, but the reality is that air quality in the Deep East is a very real issue. without getting into the whys of it all, i’ll simply refer you to the study done by Communities For a Better Environment, who have been doing a lot of good work bringing this issue to wider attention.

    http://www.cbecal.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Diesel-truck-study.pdf

  23. Jonathan,
    My comment was “foundationless”? it was based on your comments. Your arguments for gentrification have focused on the limited experiences that YOU described in your comments. I am pointing out the limitations of your perspective (a nice way of saying you don’t know what you’re talking about).

  24. Your reading comprehension is terrible. Just terrible. Are you being deliberately disingenuous? I certainly hope so. For your sake. What you get out of other poster’s comments is farcical and completely (conveniently) misses the forest for the trees. And you’re not pointing out anything. You’re not making any cogent sense. You’re just talking in weird, cryptic circles. It’s not working. Whatever it is you’re trying to do.

  25. Arnold: “i’m not sure what point you’re trying to make here…”

    I’ll be as clear as I can:

    1. People in Piedmont and Deep East are likely to be equally out of touch, in terms of understanding and in terms of taking action, with all sorts of things that have to do with the quality of life of the poorest of us.

    2. The air quality in much of Oakland, and particularly in those parts which lie along 880, is poor with corresponding health effects like child asthma and adult cancer.

    3. The folks in Piedmont look out for their own butts a lot more effectively than the folks in Deep East Oakland. Money, socialization and many other factors are involved. No one is going to do it for folks in Deep East–they’re going to have to do it for themselves. Their electeds, and electeds generally in Oakland, could care less.

    Lots of groups in the region work hard on these problems, and have done so for decades. What these groups don’t do is take on the disconnected establishment in Oakland’ city hall and kick their worthless butts out.

  26. I believe the lack of “diversity of viewpoints” is what is missing at this website and what frustrates many readers.
    The site has potential, but a diversity of viewpoints would make it a much more interesting read and would draw in a larger segment of the Oakland population.

  27. In my opinion, these endless opinion pieces concerning gentrification in Oakland are based on a faulty premise:

    “Gentrifiers” don’t move to Oakland because they “want” to. More often than not, they do so because they “have” to, after having ruled out more expensive (and safer) communities in the following order:

    1) San Francisco (if you’re looking for fun)
    2) Piedmont/Albany/Alameda (if you’re looking for good schools)
    2) Berkeley (if you’re looking for a bit of both)

    So these so-called gentrifiers are not moving here to “socialize with drug dealers or under-age prostitutes,” so to speak. Oakland was probably their bottom option to begin with, and they will probably leave for safer (and better managed) cities as soon as they can afford to (especially if they’re planning to start a family and don’t have money for private schools).

    Perhaps the famous 2012 NY Times article put Oakland on the map of destination cities for a second, but I doubt that’s a real factor anymore especially after the Occupy riots and the escalating property crimes of the past couple of years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>