Photo credit: (Emma Lee/WHYY)
You might hate gentrification but you can’t argue its efficiency. Rather than build new infrastructure for a neighborhood– sewage, electricity, buildings –gentrification allows one to simply enhance something that already exists. The principle can be applied elsewhere. HBCU grad Nicholas Perkins could have started a hamburger food truck and slowly built the business but instead he decided to gentrify Fuddruckers– he bought it and became 100% owner of a national burger brand. Whether the topic is business startups, growing organizational capacity or developing housing, gentrification is the way to go.
Black people are making things way too difficult and costly, in the long run. Sure, it’s cheaper to start a food truck than buy Fuddruckers but in the long run, the latter is much easier (and if individuals put their money together to finance the purchase it’s that much simpler). Fuddruckers already had a customer base, which a startup restaurant doesn’t. It had brand recognition, which a startup doesn’t. It already had systems, processes and methods in place, which need only to be enhanced. Gentrification has worked so well for yuppies moving into Brooklyn, why not give it a shot?
In 1867, 150 Black men and 20 Anglos in Houston founded the Republican Party of Texas. The Texas Republican Party of today looks quite different: it was gentrified. There are a number of organizations that have the infrastructure Black communities need to carry out their aims. Rather than start a new organization, why not simply gentrify an existing one? Organizations aren’t inherently Black, red or purple. Organizations are a collective of individuals who believe in its mission and hold to its values. Whether it’s a real estate club or animal cruelty organization, if it suits the needs of the community, it can absolutely be gentrified.
Why develop a new neighborhood when poor neighborhoods– of all races –exist in prime locations and desperately need investment? West Virginia is filled with poor communities that would make amazing mountain getaways and could be redeveloped for a fraction of what it would cost to buy property in the New England mountains. Gentrify it. East St. Louis, Illinois is perched along the Mississippi River, literally overlooking downtown St. Louis. Waterfront property is rare, buy it and develop it– or did you think the principle only works when others practice it?
Time is precious. The years and capital necessary to launch and scale new organizations or businesses is very often unnecessary. Gentrification is a dirty word for many but its effectiveness and efficiency can’t be denied. We need more gentrification, not less.