20 Ways Not to Be a Gentrifier
It isn’t the act of moving somewhere that makes you a gentrifier—it’s what you do once you get there.
Well, if you’re asking those questions, chances are low-income people of color in this country are expected to know your world: the world of wealthy, powerful and mostly white people. They’re expected to know everything about that world, lest they come off as uneducated, uncivilized or uncultured. Rarely does it go the other way around. Rarely do people with wealth and power learn about the low-income people of color: their cultures, aspirations and dreams for their own communities.
Moving into a neighborhood that has previously lacked political power and influence, and then using your power and influence to change that neighborhood to favor your tastes,while ignoring the tastes and culture of the people already living there, is categorically unfair. Doing so is what makes a person a gentrifier.
3. Change the way you perceive neighbors by changing the language you use to describe them. Think about the motivations for their actions. Instead of “that illegal immigrant standing on the corner all day” think “my neighbor (insert name here), who happens to be undocumented, stood out in the sun all day waiting for the chance to work so that he could send some money back to his family.” See if that doesn’t change your opinion of him.
9. Donate and/or volunteer at local organizations that build solidarity and add capacity to low-income communities of color.
10. Shop local and small. Go to the dive bars, hole in the wall restaurants and small mom and pop shops as often as the upscale restaurants, swanky bars, and boutiques.
16. If you create a neighborhood organization, make sure the racial and socioeconomic diversity of the group is reflective of the neighborhood. Actively recruit members who have differing perspectives. Find translators that can help facilitate the recruitment and retention of non-English speakers. If there is another organization working in the neighborhood, ask them what they are doing and how you can help, not the other way around.
17. If you plan any major projects in the neighborhood, make sure you do active outreach, and seek the opinions of all your neighbors. Put in the extra effort to build a consensus and make sure your project is in line with the existing community’s goals.
18. Engage with the government and advocate on behalf of policies that benefit all the residents of your city, both those born and raised there and recent transplants. Support affordable housing, education funding, re-entry services, job training and placement programs.
19. Learn all that you can about the culture and history of your new home. Don’t assume that just because positive changes haven’t come to the community, that the community doesn’t want change. They do. They just lack the financial means, political savvy and/or free time it takes to make it happen. Asking your neighbors what’s been done before and what they want to see now can lead to neighborhood improvements that are inclusive of all perspectives—and your neighbors will be happy to finally get the help they need to make the improvements they’ve likely been dreaming of for years.
20. Fall in love with your new community, both for what it is and what it could be. Give your new neighbors the benefit of the doubt. Ask them how they’d like to be treated. Don’t be afraid. Be nice to each other. Build community and understanding.
Dannette Lambert is a community organizer and political consultant in Oakland, CA. This piece reflects her individual views.
Original article – Alternet.org