A few weeks ago a few friends and I were enjoying an unseasonably warm Saturday evening in a recently gentrified neighborhood. For reference please note, I used to live in this neighborhood 10 years ago when the gentrifiers wouldn’t have been caught dead there and my friends have lived there for about six years well before it was a “cool” place to be. While walking to a place to eat we encountered visitors who all looked at us as if we were inconveniencing them. We were in their way on the sidewalk, we existed in a space they wanted to occupy. I couldn’t help but notice because their looks and energy were so glaring and disgusted. It in turn filled me with disgust because most of these people didn’t even live in the neighborhood, they were visiting, but we’re in their way! The entitlement offended me.
Like many cities around the country mine is undergoing “revitalization” which is code for gentrification which is code for get the black out. It’s painful to watch. The neighborhood I live in was/is considered from an outsiders perspective the hood. From my perspective it’s a nice black neighborhood where kids play outside, neighbors talk to each and look out for one another, speckled with the occasional hoodlums around the corner. The hoodlums can be troublesome for some (re:other hoodlums) but I find them to be respectful. In my presence at least. If I walk to the corner store everyone speaks holds the door. Says “excuse me miss lady” you know typical hoodlum shit. But my neighborhood is located next to a top ten children’s hospital and a top five zoo. And now that the city is looking attractive to the others they’re coming for my neighborhood. Slowly but surely taking what isn’t nailed down and making it as bland as ever. Now I have two different sets of others living on my street and don’t you know they don’t speak and park in front of my house instead of using their driveway? I don’t have a driveway. I’ve had to tell them please don’t park directly in front of my house you know be neighborly. You’d have thought I asked them to eat a baby. It won’t be long before my corner store turns into an artisanal paper bag boutique. And I don’t wanna live someone where I can’t walk to a corner store. Homes over 100 years old have been demolished and replaced by total shit boxes that look like they’re made of cardboard. This is improvement? For whom? Not for me. Not for the flavor my neighborhood has/had. Yes my property value may rise but at what cost? I’ve had many offers on my home but my house in another neighborhood is two or three times higher and they lack color. I want to live around people who look like me. In the city. With a five minute drive to downtown or a 10 minute bus ride if I choose. I can stay but will I wake up one day and be the only black face in my neighborhood? Considering at last glance my neighborhood is 98% black. It’s all quite sad.
In the not too distant future someone could be annoyed with my presence in my neighborhood I’ve lived in for over ten years. They’ll think I’m out of place. In my neighborhood. The nerve.