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Victims of Gentrification or Self-Saboteurs

October 5, 2011

So this is a piece I had written for publication but the timing wasn’t right and eventually it just got put on the back burner. I realize that this is a touchy subject especially with all the Occupyness going on but hey, shit happens:

The latest newsworthy crime in the Wynwood area, specifically the armed robbery at Joey’s, created a lot of buzz in the blogosphere over the safety of the area and no doubt will lead to endless discussion on gentrification and its many poor unprotected victims. I can empathize with the widowed mother of three who has to work several jobs just to keep a roof over their heads and gets pushed out of her home by wealthy land developers looking to jump on the next bandwagon neighborhood. But you know what? At the end of the day, all these big corporations and local entrepreneurs drawn to the crowds of rich people flocking to the newest cool area equals opportunities for the underprivileged. Every Starbucks that opens, every Midtown development that sprouts up means hundreds if not thousands of jobs for these oppressed masses. I don’t want to make it sound utopic, it’s not as if these companies come in pure of heart looking to hire every “rough around the edges hooligan” walking the streets. If you’re serious about finding a job though, there are definitely options open to you especially in this burgeoning area.

The problem is that as Americans (and maybe even just our generation around the world) have developed this outrageous sense of entitlement. It’s not our job to work long and hard at shitty jobs to earn our keep; our parents were supposed to do that so we wouldn’t have to.  Really what it comes down to is not a lack of opportunities for the people who live in these gentrified areas, but the fact that some or most of them don’t feel like they should have to slave away all day for minimum wage. All they’re doing is hurting themselves and their neighborhood by lashing out against the wealthier people “invading” their hoods. That of course assumes their goal isn’t to keep their neighborhoods shitty and run down. Which don’t get me wrong, has a certain charm in its own way, much like Art Walk was more enjoyable before it became such a spectacle. But at the end of the day gentrification is just another word for evolution. It’s the way that cities like New York became what they are today and continue to grow culturally beyond their previous borders. Only by clashing with other classes and cultures can we learn about them and in that way find the things about them worth loving. Whether it’s the art, the music, or just the people themselves, every one of these lower class areas has their charms. But at the end of the day, if the cost of getting to know them is getting shot, who’s going to bother?

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