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A Gentrifier Rants About the Explosive Topic of Gentrification

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[Photo courtesy of nrvlowdown/flickr]

Bed-Stuy is one of those Brooklyn communities that has seen its share of newcomers during the real estate boom years. There have been some mixed results. Some people feel they've fit in. Others say they've been ostracized. Some longtime residents have welcomed them. Others, not so much. Today, Bed-Stuy Banana lets loose with some heavy stuff on the topic:

Gentrification is a topic people have strong opinions about. And yet it's the elephant in the room because when you are the gentrifier in a neighbourhood that doesn't welcome you, the last thing you want to do is advertise it. But I have. And it is not without consequences. And the crazy thing is that had I not started this blog, judging by the response of our neighbours on our block to our presence here, I would have felt quite welcome, even appreciated. But by the same token, this blog has also allowed me to explore, enjoy, and get to know our neighbourhood in a way that I never would have otherwise. I received more physical threats this week for being an Asian newcomer with a white partner living in Bed-Stuy and documenting our experience here with words and photographs. Having known of a few white people in Bed-Stuy who've been physically attacked simply for the colour of their skin, although this week's hater said she was 'just kidding,' I cannot help but take these threats quite seriously. Although I haven't decided whether to take this matter to the police, I've done what others suggested and documented the threats. I've also been counseled not to blog about this, as a I have a child, and my post may anger them further. And to ignore them and they'll go away. But will they? Because gentrification is going to continue and I don't imagine people being any happier about it. Besides someone in the room needs to talk about the enormous animal breathing down our necks, trumpeting loudly and making huge turds on the living room carpet. It's not so long ago in America's history that black people were lynched, made to sit at the back of the bus, use separate entrances and bathrooms, and were not allowed to vote. Today, although people of all colours have elected a black man to be the president of the United States, it seems that instead of decreasing, racial tensions are on the rise. I cannot comprehend how people who've been persecuted for having black skin would do the same to people for having white or yellow or any other colour skin. And feel justified in doing so. Unless like the idea of original sin, all white people now and future generations must pay for the sins of their ancestors. Or for the present sins of the KKK. Bigotry, homophobia, wars over religion, I don't understand any of it. Big Joe and I have done our very best to not only get to know our neighbours but to improve our neighbourhood for the good of everyone who lives here, black, white, Asian, Latino, long time residents or newcomers. And yet some people hate us so much, that a fellow neighbourhood blogger and other anonymous emailers threaten to mug my family, throw eggs at our house, and incite people to 'scare them (us) to the Upper West Side.'

I understand rage. I've been plenty angry myself. And I don't deny that there are affluent gentrifiers who will come into a poorer neighbourhood, take and take and take and give nothing back. But Gandhi's statement, 'an eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind,' couldn't be more true.

Today's food for thought on a snowy day.
· Gentrification: The Elephant in the Room [Bed-Stuy Banana]