The Difference Between Gentrification And Revitalization
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Politics and Activism

The Difference Between Gentrification And Revitalization

Let's discuss some of the misconceptions surrounding gentrification.

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The Difference Between Gentrification And Revitalization
Postmodern Pamphlets

Stacey Sutton, a respected professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, hosted a TED Talk in early 2015 during which she discusses the misconceptions that many people have about gentrification and its part in supposedly bringing income to disenfranchised neighborhoods across the nation.

She explains that while higher income families are moving to these neighborhoods or investing their money there, it's not out of the goodness of their heart and it ultimately has negative consequences on the communities that have lived and put down roots there over the past few decades. Sutton explains that higher income families invest their time and money into these neighborhoods to capitalize on the relatively low costs of housing and business opportunities. By doing this, property values become inflated due to the influx of new money, thereby displacing lower income families and disrupting the cultural integrity of the community as a whole.

Sutton touches on the aspect of racial inequality that plays into this equation, by citing Tom Slater, a professor at the University of Edinburgh. Slater asserts that gentrification displays "the spatial expression of economic inequality." Black and brown people have often been and still are, at a social and economic disadvantage in this country. Because these lower income neighborhoods are filled with minorities, minorities are being displaced at a disproportionate rate.

In contrast, Sutton refers to revitalization as the rebuilding of a community from the bottom up, in which the community still remains affordable for low-income families. Gentrification, either purposefully or accidentally, inflates the cost of living and drives a disproportionate amount of minorities from their homes.

It's true that when the upper middle class moves into these low-income neighborhoods, they bring with them money and the potential to reduce crime and increase property values, but I don't think this should be viewed necessarily as a good thing. We should strive to understand and help others understand that the demographics of these communities and their median incomes are so intricately tied together, so as to suggest that black and brown people have been placed at a severe economic disadvantage since America's earliest days. No one can dispute that.

Systemic racism, which has thrived, for as long as we can remember has continued to play in large part in determining the distribution of wealth. These low-income neighborhoods have been perpetually pushed down and relegated to remaining low-income neighborhoods until such a point that high-income families see fit to gentrify these neighborhoods and run people from their homes.

These situations have proven to be breeding grounds for criminal activity from those who've been pushed to the brink and raised within a world where they've never been afforded the opportunity to see anything better for themselves. Gentrification, and its racial undertones are comprised of multi-faceted and complex issues that reach back decades and probably even further than that.

People with high incomes have been afforded the privilege and ability to move into these low-income neighborhoods without giving a second thought to the rising property values that eventually drive these families from the homes they've built over the course of years. As Sutton mentioned in the video, the unequal distribution of wealth along racial lines plays heavily into these issues of gentrification. Because white people typically have better jobs and make more money, they can afford the luxury of moving into these areas and renovating them. It's almost as if its a fun project for them, whereas its a necessity and a matter of survival for the black and brown families that are displaced by these negligent actions.

One fantastic example of gentrification is in San Francisco, where rent has risen to exorbitant amounts for even the most modest of homes and apartments. There are those who argue that gentrification is a good thing, but it's only a good thing if you're one of the wealthy and the privileged. We need to be sure we're drawing the not-so-fine line between gentrification and revitalization.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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