Saturday, September 22, 2018

Culture Clash, The Trials Of Living With Wealthy New Comers

by Teresa Montez (writer), , April 27, 2009

When wealthy white residents move in to neighborhoods traditionally low income non white neighborhoods; It's not just the boutiques and cafes that long term residents must learn to live with.

I grew up in one of those rapidly gentryifying New York Neighborhoods. You know the ones that no one ever imagined would be hot spots for college students and tourists. My former working class Latino neighborhood now now re-christened with a trendy new name is often written about in New York Magazine and gets droves of visitors who never would have set foot here when I grew up.

Many of my neighbors have been forced out, all of the bodegas have been closed and replaced with boutiques with prices so foul as to be insulting. But I am writing today about an often unseen consequence of gentrification. The daily insults often unintended and almost always unnoticed by gentrifyers.

There are many ways that these wealthy new comers tell us everyday that they are more important than we are. For example my brother who has lived here for 30 years was stopped in the hallway by our new neighbor and asked why he was so late with her food delivery, the fact that he had no bags in his hand and no uniform did not seem to matter. In her mind the equation was Latino male=food delivery.

The fact that each block has several bars makes it so that each night walking home I have the same interaction where I say exuse me several times to a smoking bar patron whose oblivious that people live here finally when they have not heard my fourth or fifth excuse me I must physically move them causing them always to get angry and huff their breath and give me the "what are you doing here anyway?" look. This sometimes happens not once but several times a night. The psychic toll is not small believe me. One of these days someone should research gentrification depression a condition afflicting residents of "up and coming" neighborhoods.

Wealthy and mostly white newcomers have a different value system than ours they obsess about things like having two locked front doors and private rooftop access. They seem to believe that rules are there for their own good. This causes many a misunderstanding in the playground when newcomers insist that gates be locked at all times, ignorant to the fact that as kids we never kept those gates locked and went in and out as we pleased. No one died from this practice. We probably got a healthy dose of independence.

Just recently in a local playground a man went ballistic because I did not close the gate on a play area that is ensconced within another gated area. He was outraged calling me foul names and screaming wide eyed "When your child runs out onto the street I'm gonna laugh!" Maybe this is undersandable they have been sold the illussion that they can live here now because of the "safety" meassures put into place by Giulliani and and continued by Bloomberg.

They have been sold the illusion that it is ok for them to pay $3000 a month for an apartment that used to go for $400 because a few "cosmetic improvements" and "private rooftop access" make it that much more valuable. They often talk of the "bad old days" even though they never lived here then and imagine a wild land of black and latino people ruling the earth and victimized whites cowering at home watching Charles Bronson movies. But I actually lived here and I think of it as the great 70's and 80's when people respected each other, did not look to police to solve the most minute conflicts between people and I didn't feel like a stranger in my own neighborhood.

About the Writer

Teresa Montez is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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4 comments on Culture Clash, The Trials Of Living With Wealthy New Comers

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By Teresa Montez on April 27, 2009 at 01:11 pm

Hi Julian,

Thanks for commenting. Exactly it's not that I don't want people to live here and to go out and have a good time but there's a sense of entitlement thats' as thick as lead, and it is not entirely a false sense of entitlement since people craft policy and cater to the tastes of wealthy and white people. In the lower east side you can walk down the street and theres just droves of young wealthy white people relaxed as hell drinking standing in the street to smoke just acting like it's there living room and then a black or latino man walks down the street drinking a beer and he'll get a ticket for $150 dollars and also spend his evening with the lovely NYPD.  I really get a sense t hat it's two separate cities. 

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By Teresa Montez on April 27, 2009 at 09:54 pm

That is so true, I went to high school in chelsea and alot of my friends friends lived in NYCHA on 9th avenue. It was once a really nice affordable place to live now where can anyone even shop for food? You raise a good point about alot of the wealthy people moving in  coming from the suburbs. Ironically the suburbs were created as these white only enclaves where people of color could not buy homes and now they don't want to live there because it's boring so they move here except that they force out the people who live there and bring in their suburb culture so what was the point they could have stayed in levittown.  Well thanks for being the first commenter to my first submission to Broowaha. 

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By Candela on April 28, 2009 at 10:37 pm

Hello Teresa,

                     Excellent article. Maybe they should "super tax" those new residents ( the yuppies, that is ) on their new properties that they have bought in the neighborhoods that they have invaded, you know? And then use that tax money towards education and financial aid for the people who grew up in those neighborhoods and who have now been displaced by them ( yuppies )...Just a thought. Thanks for the  article and keep up the good writing.

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By Teresa Montez on April 29, 2009 at 11:59 am

Thank you Candela I think that is a great idea. There should definitely be something in place to protect the neighborhood residents and businnesses that are being systematically displaced.  

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