The Face of NYC…
…is white. Probably with bottle blonde hair, but they may be a brunette. Green eyes. Light skin that can tan easily when they lie in Strawberry Fields (if you are a true New Yorker, you know where that is).
Gentrification is everywhere. It’s all over Brooklyn, but now I feel even more threatened because apparently, the whitewashing is spreading to Queens.
Let’s rewind. My aunt lives in Bed-Stuy. My mom and aunt grew up there like, in the Stone Age (I love joking about their ages). It was the ‘hood. Fast-forward to 2012. I practically stayed in my aunt’s apartment all summer because she has a fantastic view of the Manhattan skyline. I walk out of her apartment building, and I see whites. Whites in gym shorts. Whites in business suits. Whites walking their dogs. Whites coming out of buildings that used to belong to blacks. Where did those blacks go? Out of town? In the shelter system?
Fast-forward again to this summer. I see whites in East New York – a place I never thought I’d see whites. Hey! They’re dispersed throughout Brooklyn, I guess. Then a few weeks later, I read an article in amNY that says the demand for luxury apartment buildings in Jackson Heights has risen. Jackson Heights? Are you for real?? Then, new buildings start going up in my own stomping ground, Jamaica. Luxury buildings. I grew up in Jamaica, and I must say that I have never seen so many whites walking up and down Hillside. I’m not saying there’s an army of them – but they are there. Then I read about the “poor door,” and I now just cannot deal with life. Then I sit in my Human Behavior and the Social Environment class. The professor says that neighborhoods are changing in NYC – he says that even public housing is drying up. Yes, the projects are still there, but with Section 8 running out, people will be forced out. He even said they’ll probably turn those buildings into condos. Condos! I can’t imagine the 40 Projects in South Jamaica becoming condos.
So what will I do? Get a masters degree, become a clinical social worker, make a pretty decent salary and probably live in one of these luxury apartments. Because I will be making the money to afford one. However, other people that look like me cannot live in these buildings. Pieces of paper we call degrees separate me from a lot of people who look just like me.
So, I might be living next to The Face of NYC one day.
(I wrote this post after complaining about gentrification to my mother one day. The last paragraph and sentence in this post? Those were inspired by my mom’s words: “Well, you’re going to grad school to compete with the white man. You can live next to them one day, if you want. You’ll have the money. Money talks.”)