Gentrification Is When by Cathy Arellano
my land has more value
when you own it
you're invited to the neighborhood association
i've never seen the welcome mat
you move to my neighborhood for diversity
don't do a damn thing to diversify your own hometown
you stroll carefree through my neighborhood
im arrested while driving through yours
you buy your house
evict me from my dream home
you move in and Bi-Rite stops stocking
my Nana's #1 ingredient: affordable
bike lanes go up where there always were bike
just brown riders
hundreds of you are never a mob
two of us is always a gang
the city installs new lights at Dolores Park for you
builds a new jail at 17th and Valencia for me
you think this poem is a joke
i don't care what you think
but i have to
I chose this poem because it shows anger while not using foul language. Often times when I want to speak of gentrification I have to watch myself and how I talk about the new businesses on the neighborhood but the new businesses have every "right" to say that Detroit is nothing but a ghetto run-down city that needs help. I think this poem did an excellent job at portraying the frustration that I feel when I hear that people get evicted because the rent is too high in the neighborhood now because of all the new businesses. Businesses that aren't even benefiting my barrio.
We don't need coffee shops or artisan boutiques. We need books with spines on them and if you really did care about us you would credit the original artisan boutiques in the neighborhood. You know, the ones that have been there for years, selling their work and sending money back to their families. All you care about is profit and you figured you may as well open up a touristy place nearby.
I hate walking into "Mexican" restaurants and being handed lettuce for my tacos. I hate that my friends and I get followed around stores we used to call hangout spots. I hate having to walk around with my hoodie down in the spring in my town because ever since you came to town the police cars have doubled. I wish you were here before that, before we built this place up with OUR shops and OUR hard work. I wish you were here when the police response time was 30 minutes and when sometimes they decided to not even show up. I wish you were here when we were out on the streets fighting for change.
But you came now to steal our work. You sat in your fancy neighborhood and talked about the "ghetto" and how you would never be caught dead walking around those parts. Well, I wish you would keep the same mentality now. I think this poem did a fantastic job of explaining the hate whilst not using the word. Every time I read this poem my heart feels heavy and I shed a tear because with every line and every reference I have my own personal story.
There is a huge difference between gentrifying and beautifying.
Give my cousins their jobs back, give me my cilantro and taco trucks back, and let me speak Spanish in my own home without feeling intimidated.