"I am caught in the intersection of blackness and 'mainstream.'"


In answer to the Day 2 Question “How ____ Are You?”

Are you a black gentrifier?

I am black gentrifier in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. It’s a little awkward considering that many of the white people in my neighborhood perceive me as not being new to the neighborhood or even middle class, despite my very Urban Outfitters style. They seem to notice that I am a part of “the group” once I walk down the street with my white roommates. The black people who are natives know I’m a gentrifier and treat me as such. 

To add to the awkwardness, I am from a neighborhood in Ohio that is gentrifying. I lived through the days of crack and high prostitution. Like Baratunde, my mother kept me in programs and parochial schools to keep me out of the mess. People from Columbus, never guess that I am from the ‘hood. Once I got into college my childhood neighborhood was filling up with outsiders who brought renovations, high rent and new neighborhood names. Suddenly my neighborhood had a name, Old Towne East instead of being referred to as the Near East Side. I always wanted to see my neighborhood cleaned up and so I welcome it, but I feel as a black person I should fight against it. As usual I am caught in the intersection of blackness and “mainstream.”