7.05.2008

Gentrification

I read this Los Angeles Times a few weeks ago and wanted to blog on it:
The Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council is one of 88 neighborhood councils created in Los Angeles in the last nine years. Each is a junior varsity city council of sorts, with the ability to pass judgment on new development and other things, but its power lies largely in advising politicians who have real power.

...

Echo Park was one of the first L.A. suburbs and, later, was the site of some the city's first white flight.Now, the Anglos are coming back -- white return? -- and in recent years, that has begun to redefine life in the ethnic enclave that developed in their absence. Latino businesses and families have been pushed out, largely by rising rents.
Then I read this just now in the New York Times and this just pissed me off:
It is Saturday evening, the second day of summer, and the air around Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem is filled with the scent of blossoming linden trees and the sound of West African drums.

Across the street from the park is 2002 Fifth Avenue, a new seven-story cream and red brick luxury co-op with a doorman, $1 million apartments and a lobby with a fireplace.

The drummers in the park are African-American and from Africa and the Caribbean. They form a circle and have played in the park, in one form or another, since 1969...

...some in the building at 2002 Fifth Avenue, most of them young white professionals, have a different perspective: When the drummers occupy a spot nearby, residents say, they are unable to sleep, hear their television sets, speak on the telephone, or even have conversations...
Oh for FUCK'S SAKE! I'm gonna blog in this soon. Just thought I'd share the articles.

3 comments:

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

Hey there!

The whole point is that the white residents do NOT want "this element" in their area and so they are trying to build a case that there is so much noise in that area...that is MUCH more p.c. (in their minds) than just coming out and saying..."please get those negroes away from here"!

{shaking my head}

Lisa

Jack Stephens said...

Yeah, tell me about it. Thanks for the great comment Lisa.

WB3 said...

Articles like the Harlem park article are designed to point out our differences in order to distract us from the real issue of personal property rights.
How does the reader or author for that matter KNOW that all of the people who complained are white?
The author doesn't tell us who complained -- only tells us the COLOR of "most of the people" who live in the building.

---
If the race-driven article was written in the manner of the example below, would you have the same reaction to the article?

It is Saturday evening, the second day of summer, and the air around A PARK in NEW YORK CITY is filled with the scent of blossoming linden trees and the sound of DRUMS.

Across the street from the park is 2002 Fifth Avenue, a new seven-story cream and red brick luxury co-op with a doorman, $1 million apartments and a lobby with a fireplace.
The drummers in the park are PEOPLE and from DIFFERENT PLACES. They form a circle and have played in the park, in one form or another, since 1969...

...some in the building at 2002 Fifth Avenue, most of them ALSO PEOPLE, have a different perspective: When the drummers occupy a spot nearby, residents say, they are unable to sleep, hear their television sets, speak on the telephone, or even have conversations...

---
Imagine yourself in this situation:
Your white neighbor "Bob" is in a rock band and has LOUD practices every-night until dawn. You find yourself unable to watch TV, unable to help your children with their homework, and unable to sleep because of the volume of the neighbor's Rock Music. If you want the music turned down so you can sleep, do you hate white people or the loud noise that keeps you awake?

---
Imagine yourself in this analogous situation where I have substituted one activity for another in the original story:
It is Saturday evening, the second day of summer, and the air around Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem is filled with the sound of the summer wind rustling through the trees and the scent of street artists' turpentine-based spray paint.
To the East of the park, downwind, is your house and the houses in your neighborhood.
The painters in the park are PEOPLE and IT DOESN'T MATTER FROM WHERE. They form a group and SPRAY PAINT ON CANVAS OR OTHER MEDIUMS in the park, in one form or another, since 1969.

...some in the neighborhood, most of them ALSO PEOPLE, have a different perspective: When the PAINTERS occupy a spot nearby, residents say, they are unable to sleep, smell their candles, taste their food, or even have conversations without being distracted by the smell of the paint.

---

Back to the original:

How do you know that the residents who complained "don't want this element" in their area, and does the possibility exist that the residents who complained about the loud music consider the loud music to be a disturbance?
Just because the drummers are on public property doesn't mean that the drummers can engage in activities that interfere with the lives of others on their private property.
What if your hypothetical neighbor "Bob" played loud music all night that kept you awake?
And... what if Bob smoked odorous cigars accidentally blowing smoke into your open window?
Wouldn't you have the right to ask Bob to stop playing the music and smoking the cigars?
Are you a racist if "Bob" has different color skin than you?

Maybe the people in the building would be happy to have free entertainment (the drum circles) in the park if the entertainment didn't interfere with their private property rights.
Maybe people of more than one ethnicity have complained.
Remember that more than only "whites" are successful enough to purchase Million Dollar apartments.

Do you possibly sound a little racist against "the mostly white professionals" in the building?
Did you assume that "the mostly white professionals" are the ones who complained, and have you stereotyped the people who complained about the "public disturbance."
Have you also stereotyped black people by implying that all black people that live in the building like the loud drums?

Just another way of looking at things...