“If all the white people who claim they don’t hate us would ever get together and do something to the whites who claim they hate us, we’d see some action. Talk is cheap, if white people didn’t want to have a South African situation … there’d be none. If white people in America didn’t want segregation, there’d be none … it is the man who allows him to lynch who is never seen.”—
Taken from Hakim Jamal’s book “From the Dead Level: Malcolm X and Me” (page 180)
Yo, “allies”, this for you. Your silence is not neutral. Speak up or stop pretending to give a fuck.
Gentrifiers focus on aesthetics, not people. Because people, to them, are aesthetics.
Proponents of gentrification will vouch for its benevolence by noting it “cleaned up the neighbourhood”. This is often code for a literal white-washing. The problems that existed in the neighbourhood - poverty, lack of opportunity, struggling populations denied city services - did not go away. They were simply priced out to a new location.
That new location is often an impoverished suburb, which lacks the glamour to make it the object of future renewal efforts. There is no history to attract preservationists because there is nothing in poor suburbs viewed as worth preserving, including the futures of the people forced to live in them. This is blight without beauty, ruin without romance: payday loan stores, dollar stores, unassuming homes and unpaid bills. In the suburbs, poverty looks banal and is overlooked.
In cities, gentrifiers have the political clout - and accompanying racial privilege - to reallocate resources and repair infrastructure. The neighbourhood is “cleaned up” through the removal of its residents. Gentrifiers can then bask in “urban life” - the storied history, the selective nostalgia, the carefully sprinkled grit - while avoiding responsibility to those they displaced.
”—Sarah Kendzior - The peril of hipster economics (x)
mekha writes about the ongoing gentrification in her native home of choppee, south carolina.
I was on the edge of the highway in South Carolina. We were coming out of Choppee, my family’s small town in Georgetown. Choppee is one of those small 2 light towns that used to have a dirt road, no street lights and shuts down at 8pm. You can see people waving to you from your car as you come down the residential plots. Mostly, because we are such a small town that if you are down in Choppee, you probably are kin or fair association. Strolling in the morning in Choppee always brought me so much comfort. Outside, the smell of the charred garbage burned the night before settles in the air. It’s subtly sweet and charred like the inside of a kiln. Sometimes you’ll see elders sitting on their porches resting into their chairs. The lingering low hum of folk hymnals and Gullah work songs was common in my great grandmother’s home. She passed in October and I miss that the most, how you could hear her singing to god before you heard the news or any mundane mayhem from the day. These towns are sacred spaces.
My mother wanted more sweet grass baskets and since we make a trip every year, this was the time to get one. So three generations of Gullah women, went out to go find someone to sell us some baskets. On the edge of the highway was a common stand that you see quite often in South Carolina, Black women selling sweet grass baskets and sitting in lawn chairs waiting for their next patron. It’s a memory or a sort of factual reality in the collection of landmarks that we keep in our hearts as Southern people. We all remember growing up and seeing Black women who look like our aunties on the side of the highway selling fruits, honey or sweet grass baskets or all three.
It was me, my mother and my grandma. For my mother, at least 20 years had passed since she had stood before a sweet grass vendor, looked up and down, scanning the baskets in amazement. My grandma immediately started her small town Gullah greeting. Something I’ve noticed lots of southern Black women do. Right out of the gate they ask you where you are from. What part. “You know Lena Mae?”, “Ah, right back down by King Street. Sho Right”, “How you doing out here? You selling good?” All the while, dropping in some Gullah, holding her arm giving and taking anecdotes about the takeover or the gentrification of the land and privatization of our beaches and marshlands that grow all of the materials we use to make our art.
I’m in a weird phase where I only want to listen to Belle and Sebastian, who I like but not usually enough to rank in my top five most played anything. I realize everyone knows this song already, but maybe listen with me this time plz?
I’ve always admired how brave and badass you are for keeping your capacity to want things and go after them even when your emotions are finding sneaky ways to mess with you. And at the same time, your amazingly quick, open, compassionate mind makes you so good at empathizing with people, or if not everyone then a lot of people with a lot of different kinds of problems, that it feels uniquely easy to have emotionally and intellectually productive conversations with you and to sense common ground with you, even though you’re in such a different place from me and have gotten where you are in such a different way. I feel better about humanity in general while talking to you.
I guess that’s technically more than one thing, but they’re all sort of related?
Melon! Peach. Coconut? (Any/none/whatever you feel like~)
Mmm let’s see.
Melon—my first impression of you:
Ooooh this was so long ago. I remember noticing very early on that we were the same age almost to the day. I think it must have been a birthday thread on SQ? And I wanted to say, heyyy, birthday twins! Except then I read some of your posts and was like, no, this person is way too smart and accomplished (I think the first thing I noticed was the singing, which I was casually into back then) and already has plenty of cool Internet friends. Also I was afraid of sounding like I was fishing for birthday wishes. So I didn’t say anything. It did give me hope that you liked French, because knowing French was one of the few things, maybe the only thing, I was proud of back then.
The thing about knowing you liked French (and it seemed like you liked the actual language, unlike most of my classmates, who were really enthusiastic about the idea of France but didn’t seem to enjoy the process of learning the language all that much) is that it made me more open to seeing you as a real person with as many complicated feelings as I had, not just one of those bright shiny balls of cool that I had no business staring at all the time. I think you (your LJ? posts on SQ? I can’t really remember anymore) were the first person to make me start thinking it was okay to acknowledge both what I was feeling and what I wanted to feel, before starting to worry about not yet being the person I wanted to be.
Whew, that was like 87 percent about me. High school was a weird time.
Peach—what I like most about your blog:
This is hard to answer because I love your selfies and text posts so much it feels like a betrayal not to give them first place, but honestly, I have to take this opportunity to say you have the best fandom posts I’ve ever seen, and I’m not even in your fandoms, with one obvious exception. The way you can say things of substance about the content and blend them together with explanations of its personal significance to you is kind of magical.
Actually, that might have to share first place with your subtitle. It cracks me up every time.
Coconut—a blog that reminds me of yours:
Well, sashayed and happierman were the first answers that came to mind because they’re the most uncannily similar to some aspects of your blog, but answers like that probably aren’t the point of this question, so I’m going to say eyefreckle because like your blog, that one makes me happy in ways that I could never just seek out and find for myself. Something to do with a gestalt.
I MEAN you seem to reblog/ look at art CONSTANTLY, and to me that counts as dealing with it/ considering it loads!
Ah! Well. The thing is, the rest of my dash is all clothes, makeup and social justice, which I’m happy to have as 80 percent of my Internet diet, but the art is the most reliably fun for me, so if it’s any fun for anyone else, that’s encouraging! I keep wishing I had fandoms I could gifspam with, but there seem to be other nice things out there, when you get right down to it.
OKAY WELL I got lovely answers out of Ms. éClaire au Chocolat by playing this game, so it seems only fair I should give some others a chance. This thing reminds me of a much earlier phase of my Internet existence except I never did ones that required audience participation.
OH FUCK I MEANT PEACH I REALIZE WE HAVE SPOKEN FOR A TOTAL OF LIKE TEN MINUTES EVER SORRY oh no
We have eaten macarons together in Grand Central Station you goose!!! EATING BAKED GREATS with people is the way my soul bonds, hence bakery life
peach - what i like most about your blog
I like getting to see the sorts of things you’re thinking re: art you deal with on a daily basis because I get the feeling you don’t necessarily say most of it aloud, I dunno, tumblr tags are a great gift for distance communication
I just wrote a huge essay on Reddit about how it’s not an act of bad faith to teach your children to believe in Santa Claus. A couple of people were saying it encouraged an entitled attitude and set an example of casual dishonesty, which inexplicably really bothered me.
Also my grandpa died this morning, and I repeatedly made an idiot of myself in front of my parents and their friends during our outing in Brooklyn Heights and Lower Manhattan, and I wept the whole subway ride home and then sat around by myself all evening.
“The thrill of appropriation lies in accessing the perceived authenticity … Transfer to a white body elevates the action. It’s no longer primitive because while nonwhite culture is assumed to be rooted in instinct, white culture is one of intent … White people clamoring to up their cred by appropriating nonwhite culture do so hoping to be rewarded for choices that are falsely seen as inherent in people of color.”—
Ayesha Siddiqi, on how colonialism and white supremacy frame PoC as lacking agency and intent, and thus inherently lesser; either through ethnocentric assumptions of cultural superiority and lack of choice, or via biological determinism outright