Written by: Stephen Cavallaro
The dissemination of different cultures and individuals is a fundamental element that led to the foundation of our nation. With the continuous rise of social media and globalization, people are undergoing dissemination like never before, thinning the gaps that put certain groups at a disadvantage.
One technique that effectively works to deter adversity is gentrification, which is a shift in an urban community toward wealthier residents, thereby increasing property value. Gentrification helps areas that continue to feel the burden of racism and oppression to experience economic and social rejuvenation.
Famed movie director Spike Lee made no hesitation to express his opposition towards gentrification during a speech late last month. Later that week on CNN, Lee further voiced his thoughts on the issue.
“My problem is that when you move into a neighborhood, have some respect for the history, for the culture,” Lee said.
Yet gentrification does not exist with the intent to strip away culture, unless the culture trying to be preserved is racism, segregation, and poverty−all common trends among Lee’s former neighborhood in Harlem, New York.
While wealthy prospectors roll into poor urban communities purchasing properties that no one would dream of owning, the area’s economic theater undergoes change. Public works such as law enforcement and sanitation become more efficient and new businesses set up shop. Hence, the economic playing field is being leveled.
A study conducted by the Economic Mobility Project in 2009 concluded that “neighborhood poverty appears to be an important part of the reason why blacks experience more downward relative economic mobility than whites.”
In the Chicago neighborhood of Bronzeville, known as the Harlem of Chicago, those who support gentrification are not even white, but black.
Some would argue that gentrification pushes people out of their homes due to the influx of wealth. Regardless of the validity of the argument, these individuals would be liable to flock either to a community with comparable socioeconomic status to which they are accustomed or to an area with a moderate economic theater.
Therefore, I argue that gentrification is nothing more than a mechanism for economic advancement amongst the poverty stricken.
After all, minority families who incur a moderate to high economic status tend to immigrate from poor communities to wealthier areas. Even Spike Lee resides in the vastly overpriced and predominantly white Upper East Side of New York.
So shouldn’t it be fair for the wealthy to purchase real estate in Harlem, or any urban community, regardless of their race?