By Brooklyn Reader

March 9, 2014, 10:49 am

 

Scene from "Catching Fire," the second film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy

Scene from “Catching Fire,” the second film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy

Just last week I happened to come across a very popular feed of a Brooklynite in my network who shared a link of Spike Lee’s recent response to the “Mutha*ucking Hipsters” that have taken over the neighborhoods of Brooklyn.  It sparked something in me which moved me emotionally because it kind of hit home.

Gentrification has been the hot topic amongst New Yorkers and it’s been haunting me for the last couple of weeks.  As a real estate agent I’d like to think I am helping people find new homes but on the flip-side, I find myself thinking I just might be more of a perpetrator of this concept.

I actually remember the amazing stories my father shared with me about growing up in the projects of Redhook, Brooklyn, and how I wished so badly to have grown up there just like he did.  It sounded so hip and bad ass to say the least, which made me proud to be the daughter of a true Brooklynite.  I made a pact that one-day I would live in Brooklyn to create my own great memories.

And I did– long enough to have watched the considerable change that’s taken place.  Even though, I am quoted saying that “it was quite refreshing to say the least”; I feel saddened by how many people who are truly affected by the rising prices of property taxes and rents forcing them out of a community they once called home.

Before Lee’s rant, my dad told me about this documentary he saw on America ReFramed back in January called “My Brooklyn” by Kelly Anderson and Allison Dean. It really opened my eyes to the history of Brooklyn and how it became ‘America’s hippest city’ but then taken right from under the noses of the people who made it so hip.

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The government and developers are to blame and their objectives to make downtown Brooklyn more desirable for capitalistic reasons sicken me.  But aren’t I sort of a proponent of that?

Somehow now that I’ve become privy to all of this, I feel I could be responsible for the continual perpetuation of this phenomenon. I happen to specialize in the East Harlem/Upper East Side neighborhoods however; I also find myself accommodating those who want to live in Brooklyn which have been those that fit the profile of “gentrifiers.” This happens to be my lively hood, though.

Spike even mentions how “real estate mother*uckers” are changing the names of the neighborhoods like for example we call Spanish Harlem, SpaHa now.  Go figure.

Unfortunately my predictions of what New York City will become makes me think of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy and the geographical set-up of “The Capitol” amongst the outer “districts” symbolizing the divide between the have’s and have-not’s.

Characters from "Catching Fire," the second film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy

Characters from “Catching Fire,” the second film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy

And what about that other movie starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried called “In Time” where the rich lived isolated from the poor?

I see gentrification more of a socio-economic issue than a racial issue.  It just so happens that most of the have not’s are minorities and most of the ones taking over the overpriced metropolis are whites.

Spike Lee does uses choice words and make sound points in describing the take over of a neighborhood that once was rich in culture and character. But is this change inevitable and is it necessarily a bad thing?

There have been so many responses to his ‘rant’ that makes me wonder about the divide in perspective and where I truly fit in of all of this.  I’m on the fence.  On one hand, a sister needs to eat & live but on the other hand, at what expense?

And I know one things fo’ sure…I definitely do not want to see New York become like the nation of Panem where there’s a clear separation of class.


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One Response

  1. Natasha Watterson

    There has always been a separation of class in New York City. But the Middle class neighborhoods are disappearing and the gap between the poverty line and “comfort” is grossly disproportionate.

    I too am on the fence about this issue of gentrification in Brooklyn neighborhoods. On one hand, I enjoy the better food selections at the local market but quite often bark at the 650k prices posted for two bedroom condos at a whopping 500 square feet. Who buys a closet?

    While the homes and businesses in Bed Stuy are still owned by blacks, evidenced by the last census reporting, the reality is no one wants to invest their life savings into a neighborhood thats looks like a crime scene. Development is good!! The yuppies everyone complains about are struggling like the rest of the impoverished residents. They are just more willing to share an apartment with four other people allowing them more disposable income to patronize retail shops, restaurants and the sort.

    Gentrification is inevitable whenever there is a financial crisis. 9/11 drove many Manhattanites to Brooklyn coupled with Bloomberg’s initiative to turn NYC into Irvine California where the crime rate is 85% BELOW the national average. It will never happen but it was a great attempt.

    At this point, we simply have to stop complaining and start planning. What happens when we can no longer afford to live in our neighborhood?

    Reply

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