The 8 People Moving Into Your Gentrified Neighbourhood

Updated March 30, 2016 4:45pm PDT
Rent

Congratulations! Your neighborhood has been selected for gentrification! 

I’m sure this is a period of great transition for you, but, as rising property prices slowly force you out of your childhood home and large franchises force local business owners into bankruptcy, do try to bear in the benefits: nicer housing (for people richer than you), new job opportunities (for which you almost certainly will not qualify) and an influx of tourists (who may or may not feel safer with you gone).

As your home is bulldozed to make room for a new block of condos, why not cheer yourself up with a little people-spotting? I've composed, for your convenience, and free of charge to you, you lucky so-and-so, a guide to the various people who will soon call your old neighbourhood–now changed beyond recognition–home.

1. Tourists who were here before it was cool.

As the work crews start construction on a Lululemon where your old elementary school used to be, look out for tourists who now feel emboldened enough to venture into your neighbourhood, but still sufficiently threatened by the current residents to act as though they’re on an adventure. Watch out for their shitty tips at local restaurants, loud pronouncements of how “ghetto” everything is, and exclamations of mixed awe/horror at such shocking sights as non-white people living their daily lives in the neighbourhood where their families have lived for generations.

Such a rich and invigorating culture, built on quaint values (like disrespect). We could certainly learn a lot through their wisdom.

2. Thrift Shop Bargain Hunters. 

As you watch the run-down cinema where you kissed your first girlfriend being remodelled into an indie comedy bar, take note of the influx of wealthy white people searching for deals in the local thrift stores that used to outfit people who couldn’t afford new clothes. These Macklemore-inspired bargain mavens will clear every piece of vaguely fashionable or near-new piece of attire from the shelves of your local CARC and pair them with the $200 True Religion super-skinnies they bought with their parents’ credit cards. Damn! They are some cold-ass honkies. They look so deliberately and affectedly carefree. It's hard to even hate them, though our private security firms will be watching you very closely for the slightest hint of malcontent. A smiling person is an unbothered one. Mostly.

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3. Young Couples Seeking Farmer's Markets. 

If you don't find yourself wholly entranced by the groundbreaking of the neighbourhood’s fourth new Hollister in as many months, you’ll notice an accompanying influx of people seeking fresh, organic produce at the farmers’ markets that will inexplicably start appearing in what used to be a food desert. You won’t actually be able to afford the premium prices charged by people who have time to farm community gardens while you’re working two full-time jobs to pay your electric bill, but, if you clap your hands very hard and believe, you might get a whiff of fresh kale as you weave your way through swathes of young couples who think buying leafy greens is a romantic date. 

This is what your girlfriend would've wanted (if she could've afforded to stay in the city). 

4. Artists Who Never Seem To Make Any Art

So mayhaps you can’t afford one of the new loft apartments that now towers over what used to be the bodega where you bought milk, but these folks who’ve come to your city with nothing but a song in their hearts and a giant trust fund in their names can! They’ll settle nicely into a routine of Sunday brunches, yoga classes and tweeting about their blocked creative process to their inexplicably huge number of followers from the free wi-fi at one of the several new local Starbucks locations. And perhaps one of them will light the blogosphere aflame with a rousing cover of a famous hip hop song on their acoustic guitar and pocket synthesizer! Surely you see the greater good in all this.

5. White Women Taking Yoga Classes 

Yoga is an ancient and deeply spiritual practice with profound meaning to Hindus the world over. It’s also a great way to tone those flabby thighs! Your old boxing gym has been bought out by a white lady with an ambiguously ethnic name that she assures you means “freedom” in a language she doesn’t speak. We really are becoming a braver people through this.

The steady procession of women carrying bundled-up yoga mats to and from her holistic yoga studio will be just as common a sight in your neighbourhood as the exodus of long-time residents whose apartments have been converted into cocktail bars and tapas restaurants. All that hustle and bustle is good for the blood. The right kind of blood, at least.

6. Apple Store Employees

Everyone these days has an iPhone, and almost all of them bought that iPhone at the new Apple Store down the road from all the newly-homeless PoC displaced by rising rents and bank foreclosures. Apple Store employees are friendly, helpful, and not making enough to actually live here, so expect them to filter in with the train every morning and leave at night, their cheerful smiles becoming steadily more pained throughout the day as customer after customer insists that her phone is being hacked by those bitcoin people she read about on Facebook.

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7. People Seeking "Alternative" Nightlife

After the last queer-friendly bar in your neighbourhood has been forced to close, it’ll be replaced with a trendy nightclub that blasts out music written by black people for white people and serves drinks that cost more than the hourly wage– which no longer buys you so much as a shoebox-sized apartment here. It’ll be featured in whichever magazine/blog/column people under 25 and making over $250k in your city read. They might have the wealth and the jobs and the explicit support of the local police, but you, you have the view.

You’ll be able to watch them staggering out drunkenly at 4AM from a place with a name that you thought was just a common noun or adjective, like Slush or Alive or Naked. After they urinate publicly on your bike, they’ll Uber right back home into the studio apartment they purchased outright after making their first million. I bet some of them will even go on Facebook or Twitter and complain about how they envy you, with your view of the city and having so much less stuff tying you to the material world. 

8. The People Who Support The Urban Gentrification Complex 

Work crews, disaffected bartenders, baristas working on their MAs in film, waitresses who really should be earning more than $5/hour in tips given the wealth of their clientele: your neighbourhood is now supported by people like you, who can’t afford to live here anymore, but can just barely get jobs serving the people who do. Hey, it’s not so bad: at least you’re still in the old neighbourhood, right? It looks nothing like the old neighbourhood, and the people who live here are richer than you (and yet, still whine about tipping more than 10%), but as you take the subway to the far poorer neighbourhood, at least you can take solace in this fact: one day, they’ll gentrify your new place, too.

 

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Aaminah Khan is an Australian-born activist of Pakistani and Turkish descent currently living in the American south. Zie has been a staff writer for The Rainbow Hub and has had zer writing featured in The Huffington Post, Black Girl Dangerous, The Progressive and elsewhere. Zie blogs, tweets and posts pictures of zer food as jaythenerdkid.