whitney erin boesel

Gentrification and Race

 "One of my pet peeves is when people treat race and class as if they’re interchangeable; for instance, when the Fordham Institute talks about the 25 “fastest-gentrifying neighborhoods” in America, the author is really referencing US Census data for the 25 zip codes with the largest increases in percentages of white residents. As a transitive verb, “gentrified” means “renovated and improved so that it conforms to middle-class taste.” Fordham is therefore using ‘percentage of white residents" as a proxy for ‘percentage of middle-class residents’, which inherently perpetuates the stereotypes that white people are middle-class and people of color are poor. Because of this, I find Fordham’s proxy (and others like it) to be ideologically problematic, even if an influx of white people does seem to correlate with fewer bodegas and more cupcake merchants. Plus, when we remember that the adjective meaning of “gentrified” is “more refined or dignified,” equating ‘more white’ with ‘more gentrified’ is just offensive.“

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