As stated before, I love Franz Fanon’s work, lol, So I decided to share an article that I read long before learning about him. Hearing about colonization, this article came to mind. Gentrification is running Rapid in our communities here in the city. Linked above you will find a great article that visually illustrates what happens when gentrification is on the come up. We see store fronts of mom and pop shops turned into sub-ways or upscale cafe’s. While these look really pretty and from an orthodox point of view they seem to be beneficial for the community: ITS NOT.
Usually when people hear the word gentrification, they automatically think of Harlem. Linked here is another article that gives some insight into gentrification in Harlem: http://www.businessinsider.com/new-yorks-east-harlem-gentrification-photos-2013-9?op=1
Now, who wouldn’t be excited to see a nice Whole Foods in their neighborhood? Well a nice whole foods comes at a price. The arrival of this whole foods is the start of a battle for resources: families in the surrounding area, if not granted rent control or are fortunate to own a house, these families can be priced out of their communities, forced to move often at a short moments notice. We see traditional mom-and pop shops in the area going out of business because the new group of residents that are able to afford the new housing prices are not shopping at smaller shops but traveling to larger malls. Here we see that the money is not being circulated back into the community. We also observe a slow move away from the culture of the original community; while families are forced to move, they take their culture with them, or if they are able to stay new residents will not appreciate the cultural practices, such as a traditional drum circle, or the weekly block parties during the summer. While these elements of the neighborhood cease to exist we end up with a community that is void of originality, it becomes homogeneous in terms of the people that inhabit the area and the visual appeal of the neighborhood.
Now to relate all of this to Fanon: how can colonization even be compared to gentrification? Well, if we think about colonization as simply as the take over of resources and land, this is exactly what we see happening in urban neighborhoods. With the neoliberal ideals that we seemingly accept, gentrification may not seem like a problem, but it leads to the people being removed from where they are for the greater economic gain. Once these people are priced out of their neighborhoods, where do these people go? What will happen to the culture? How is one to navigate the world when they have to be uprooted and adjust to a new reality that they have to face in which once has to realize that the space that they occupy is not their own?
With all of these questions, how can we prevent gentrification, or perhaps prevent individuals from facing psychological hardships that result from displacement? Working in the south bronx and speaking with local organizations one of the ideas that an organization has implemented was to create an after school program for mothers in which they will watch children and provide free food as many of the mothers have to work long hours and do not have the opportunity to watch their children after school. This model creates a huge relief for working families in that they do not have to worry about their children.
What other initiatives would you implement to alleviate some of immediate hardships that families will have to face if they are priced out of their homes due to gentrification?