The question of gentrification has been raised for decades and continues to bother many people who live in such neighborhoods as Brooklyn. The conundrum of gentrification and the role of demand in modern society serve as the reason why I want to share my position on this issue. Though zoning is a helpful tool to keep simple things together and apart regarding their size and shape (Center for Urban Pedagogy, What Is Zoning 10), it is characterized by multiple concerns. Gentrification should not be the question of affordable housing and zoning only. It touches many lives with their stories, either bad or good, and challenges human feelings (“Brooklyn, We Go Hard”). Therefore, it is wrong to believe that gentrification is a possibility to meet the demands of the middle class. This discussion has deep roots, and my task is to solve the riddle of urban change in Brooklyn.
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The peculiar feature of the chosen topic is that despite numerous investigations and opinions, it is still hard to create one common opinion and understanding of the matter. On the one hand, gentrification is a positive process that helps poor and working-class people to deal with the consequences of disinvestment and crime violence (McGee). It is a chance for the less fortunate people to improve the “ugly” place they try to call their home (Anderson). However, I cannot agree with such statements, as all these decisions are made by people who have never lived in the neighborhood. On the other hand, people have already heard about the idea of affordable housing and realized that they could never afford that type of housing (Center for Urban Pedagogy, What Is Affordable Housing 11). Gentrification is an attempt to make “money off black people’s pain” (McGee). Still, not all people in the neighborhood can understand the true worth of urban change and effective planning.
One may say that gentrification is necessary to identify and meet human needs. I agree with Angotti, who states that even if zoning is defined as free and comfortable for the American population, it remains to be under the control of rich experts with a serious deficit of democratic discussions about the future of the neighborhood (20). The rich are eager to fix the crime and violence problems of people, intruding into their lives and houses without even getting permission. The main question that bothers me at this moment is not about the ethics or morality of this conundrum but about the author of this permission. Can America call itself a free and democratic country when so many decisions are still made by rich people?
Gentrification in Brooklyn gives the answer to the above-posed question. “Black faces are disappearing as white ones take their place” (McGee). Therefore, the conundrum of gentrification is not about human needs or the necessity to improve living conditions anymore. It is about profitability, race, and the color of skin that is inherent to the middle class. Brooklyn’s story is not a single example. There are many neighborhoods with similar stories and debates.
To conclude, I want to underline that to be successful for people, gentrification has to be equal and fair. It is not enough for central and inner areas to use their geographical priority in order to satisfy the demands of the middle class. It is more important to listen to the middle class and evaluate if something good can be done on a free-will basis, considering the opinions of all people, those who can invest, and those who have to live.
Anderson, Kelly, director. My Brooklyn. My Brooklyn Movie, 2012.
Angotti, Tom. “Land Use and Zoning Matter.” Zoned Out! Race, Displacement, and City Planning in New York City, edited by Tom Angotti and Sylvia Morse, Terreform, 2016, pp. 18-26.
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“Brooklyn, We Go Hard.” There Goes the Neighborhood. 2016, Web.
Center for Urban Pedagogy. What Is Affordable Housing? New York, 2009.
Center for Urban Pedagogy. What Is Zoning? New York, 2013.
McGee, Maura. “People of Color Are not Props: Black Branding and Community Resistance in Gentrifying Brooklyn.” Metro Politics. 2018, Web.