There Goes Your Hood: Top 5 Signs That Your Neighborhood is Gentrified
If you live in a major city, chances are your neighborhood is gentrified, is in the middle of being gentrified or is about to be gentrified. Damn. From Oakland to Brooklyn, predominantly Black neighborhoods are being “renewed” (systematically taken from poor Black folks) and the signs of change are everywhere. Your corner store now sells loose cigarettes AND almond milk. Your new neighbors ask you to turn your Talib Kweli down at nine pm. Catcalls that used to be “Yo, Dark Chocolate!” are suddenly “Hey, Snowflake!”. As a lifelong resident of once hood/now gentrified Brooklyn, I’ve seen it all and here’s what you need to look out for.
#5 Your New Neighbors’ Kids Have Names From The Antebellum South
You just got back to your apartment building, when a woman’s voice rings out. “Talulah! Beauregard! Come here this instant!” What…in the name of Roots…is happening??? Just then, two of the blondest children you’ve ever seen run into the apartment nextdoor. Your new neighbors from Wisconsin have given their twins names from the Antebellum South. Yes. SLAVE TIMES. Dumbfounded, you do the only thing you can: fire up your laptop and pray to Black Jesus for an affordable apartment on Craigslist. White kids, with names from SLAVE TIMES can only mean one thing: the rent is ‘bout to be too damn high.
#4 Shops That Sell Nothing But Dairy Begin To Open Up
Artisanal cheese shops or fancy mayonnaise emporiums (yes, there was a spot in my hood that sold $10 jars of mayonnaise, until they…got priced out) might not seem like such a big deal at first. That’s right up until you remember that up to 75% of Black people are lactose intolerant! So, when you see that new cheese spot open up on the block, the sign outside might as well read “Not For You, Fam”. Sidenote: Non-Black people reading this, have some GOTDAMNED non-dairy snacks at your mixed raced gatherings. Please and thank you.
#3 People Talk About Your Neighborhood Like It’s Brand New
Gentrification brings new folks, who aren’t so much moving into your neighborhood, as they’re discovering it. If your neighborhood is “up and coming”, there’s a whole bunch of Columbusing goin on. Any of these sound familiar?
“Before I moved in, there was nothing here. I mean, like no one lived here.”
(An elderly Jamaican lady stares on in disbelief, with a gaze hot enough to roast a goat)
“It’s pretty cool now, but it was sooo sketch when I moved in. There wasn’t even a decent coffee shop. Now we have nineteen.”
(That we know of.)
“Everything is so cheap here. You can get a huge sandwich at my bodega for like three dollars. It’s called a “chop cheese”. I don’t know how they stay in business!”
(A 12 year old Dominican cashier yawns from the exhaustion of his 12 hour shift)
#2 The Police Smile At Residents
Black people don’t smile at the police and the police don’t smile at us. The police and stop signs in bed-stuy are treated the same, unacknowledged. Between young White folks and new Negroes moving in, the police in gentrified neighborhoods are turning those frowns upside down. It’s almost hard to blame them, with hipster shenanigans like this goin on. I’m not immune. The first time I caught a smile from a cop, I was so shocked that I almost smiled back. Almost.
#1 You Technically Don’t Live There Anymore
Lets say you live in Harlem. You like Harlem. That’s a shame, because as of ten minutes ago you live in “SoHa”. That’s South Harlem, a name that shady realtors made up to run your pockets and drive residents crazy. Go to 125th street right now, and you’ll hear a guy lamenting about how the neighborhood needs a Black name, like “Harlem.” Don’t tell him Harlem is a Dutch word, if New York keeps anything, it has to be people yelling as loud as they can, while being wrong at the same damn time.