The Opposite Of Gentrification

The Opposite Of Gentrification

What happens when thugs and drug dealers move in on unsuspecting neighborhoods?

Everyone has heard of gentrification and how awful it is for every city in America. If you haven’t, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes it as: “the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents.”

While you might think that sounds like a great way for a city to prosper, people have been up in arms about gentrification because it is making it too difficult for people who have been living in a certain community to continue to afford to live there.

But, what about the opposite of gentrification? While there is no antonym for gentrification because it means to improve, I found a man using the term communizing or communization. I agree, as it could mean, and does to him, to depreciate the importance of or make ordinary. I will use this term in talking about the deteriorating conditions in Buffalo, because they are plentiful.

Specifically, my grandmother lives in Black Rock. It is a small town on the north side of Buffalo by the Niagara River. She told me when she was growing up and going to school there, it was a quaint Polish village. She grew up with the same six girls. They called themselves "The Sexy Six" and never had to worry about unwanted attention, or even had to lock their doors.

Everyone knew everyone and everyone protected each other.

Now, my 85-year-old grandmother has to live in fear of bullets coming through her windows.

Shady people continue to move in and bring more people in to do their shady dealings with, and every night, there are at least 10 grown men playing dice in the streets. I can remember when I rode my tricycle around that neighborhood and waved to everyone I saw. When I get out of my car now, I try not to make eye contact and walk with fear of being catcalled, or worse.

Last summer, my Babci (grandmother in Polish) had all four of her tires slashed because one drug dealer thought she was talking to the cops about him when she was really answering their questions about another drug dealer. This is not something my grandfather, who was a World War II veteran, would have tolerated. But, he was born in that house and died in that house in Black Rock, and now that he has passed, my grandmother would never think of moving. So, what is there to do?

I don’t want the same fate for my darling grandmother as Juan Rodriquez. He is an 11-year-old boy who was just shot in the head in Buffalo while trying to protect his younger brothers and sisters. This was two days before his 12th birthday. The media outlets are trying to suggest the shooting may have been gang-related. I suggest, don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

I know, at least for my grandmother’s recent street shooting, the gunfire was over a girl. The target was an 18-year-old young man I watched grow up. The innocence in this person is gone. He has let his environment influence him more than is safe. Especially for my Babci, who lives next door. That is the problem with communization, it takes over well before anything can be done about it.

Cover Image Credit: Daily Mail

Popular Right Now

Parkland Students Organize March On Washington

"Students all over the country are going to be joining us because the adults have let us down."

Nikolas Cruz opened fire on teachers and students at Stoneman Douglas High School and killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine's Day. Now, students from the school are speaking out. Several told “Face the Nation” and “Meet the Press” this past Sunday that the government is letting them down. They say they are creating a national movement to stomp out gun violence.

Government polarization and the cultural divide in the United States separates the country on gun control. 75 percent of Republicans worry the government will go too far in restricting gun rights while 73 percent of Democrats fear the government will fail to do enough to regulate guns, according to NBC’s “Meet The Press.”

Five student survivors talked with CBS’s “Face The Nation” about their discontent with the government's actions towards gun regulation. One of the survivors, Emma Gonzalez, said: “People who we put into power, who should be working for us, they have us working for them. And that’s pitiful.” The teenagers are organizing a march on Washington to rally students from all parts of the country and persuade politicians to enforce stricter gun laws.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

I Love Chinese Food! Really? (PART III)

Please don't pressure me to change if you say you welcome me.

Last week I discussed how immigrants are pressured to assimilate by public policies. Now let's look from a different aspect.

Unlike the systematic language policies, popular culture encourages assimilation in a less planned way. Yet, because popular culture is more embedded in people’s daily lives, it potentially influences more people on a daily basis than public policies. This arena not only lacks accurate and positive depictions of immigrants, but it has actually been promoting the dehumanization of immigrants.

Popular media either pokes fun at exaggerated racial stereotypes or only features highly Americanized immigrant characters. For instance, in the popular CBS show 2 Broke Girls, the only immigrant character, Han Lee is a Korean American. He has an exaggerated accent, limited knowledge of American culture, short stature, and a lack of masculinity. He is the constant target of ruthless jokes from major characters, like Max Black and Caroline Channing. In other words, the audience is supposed to look down upon this stereotypical poorly-assimilated immigrant.

On the other hand, the recent ABC show Fresh Off the Boat features, in a positive light, the struggles of a Chinese immigrant family, the Huangs, to embrace their “American dream” and assimilate into American society. Incidentally, all these “immigrants” speak perfect English. The Huangs, in fact, teach immigrant viewers the way towards success – assimilation. Popular culture’s representation of immigrants, like the ridiculous Han Lee and the “hard-working” Huangs, covertly privileges well-assimilated immigrants and dehumanizes immigrants in their original form.


When I was in high school preparing for American colleges, I had an American teacher. He was very well respected among us. The ones chosen to be in his class were seen as extraordinary and promising, while those not chosen strove to fit his standard so that he might set his eyes on us. And what was his standard? Excel in English literature and AP classes.

I remember when my AP grades improved so much that this teacher, for the first time, spoke to me and even invited me to join him and his chosen students for dinner. I was so thrilled as if I had just won a lottery. In our minds, he was the epitome of America – the country we were dreaming of. Being chosen by him assured us that we could realize our American dreams.

After all, this American saw the potential in us; this must have meant something, right? And one day, the teacher suddenly decided that everyone must only speak English at school. His chosen students were terrified because being caught speaking Chinese would mean never seeing an "A" in this teacher’s class again. While for the rest of us, we felt ashamed to ever speak Chinese in his presence again.

The immigrants in America are like me and my classmates in high school. Some of them are lucky enough to be the chosen ones. They can stay and maybe even thrive without too much trouble. Their American dreams are within reach.

Others are not so lucky.

They may just manage to survive and are struggling to be recognized. But, all immigrants are bided by American rules. They must work extra hard to be chosen. America is like that high school teacher. He promised us a beautiful future in America. He said he did everything so that we may thrive in the land of opportunities.

We believed and respected him.

But this teacher did not want the real us. He wanted to change us. Most Americans said they welcome immigrants, but immigrants are expected to change and cater to American taste.

They must leave behind their own cultures and languages.

They must fill their minds with American the spirit because otherwise the “teacher” will not even set eyes on them.

Their dream of becoming an “A” student – making a good fortune and be successful – depends on the “teacher’s” favor. The way to their American dreams is to assimilate.

However, even hard work does not guarantee an “American-dream-come-true future”. I tried. I significantly improved my grades. I could talk fluently in English. The teacher finally set eyes on me. He invited me to his chosen group dinner! But he never fulfilled his promise.

Many Americans, especially in today’s political atmosphere, loudly announce their acceptance and welcoming of immigrants. Among these are my American friends, who constantly confess their love of Chinese food. Their love for Chinese food, like some Americans’ encouragement of immigrants, only extends to the Americanized versions.

Behind the mask of a “heart-warming” smile towards immigrants, America actually privileges assimilation, through constructing a desirable “model immigrant” image, systematic language policies, and ludicrous popular culture representations.

Before they ever claim to whole-heartedly welcome immigrants again, Americans should probably consider: whether they genuinely think so, or are they simply paying a lip service and welcome only Americanized immigrants?

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

Related Content

Facebook Comments