To see the graphs that go along with the article please view the original posting at
white Bodies are Gentrifying Bushwick:
A Look at white Use of Statistics to Evade the Truth of NeoColonialism
This article is in response to an article by writer Evangelos Frigis. Please read his article in effort to comprehend the dire need for more Black and Non Black POC writers to document these times. When predominantly white bodies document our experiences, our experiences are defined for us and inevitably whitewashed.
“If you are silent about your pain, they will kill you and say you enjoyed it.”
-Zora Neale Hurston
As preface to ways I will dismantle the claims made by Frigis, remember that statistics have been HIStorically used to benefit the lens of the person using said statistics. In this case, a white cis-gender man uses census data between 2000-2010. I will use the same data to prove that statistics are able to be skewed depending on perspective.
As we know, the rapidity of gentrification produces a boom in white businesses and whitewashing at a rate too fast to consider any census data prior to 2011. Within two weeks in 2015 you will see a building full of native Latinx & Black residents go from having a tattered front to refurbished living quarters “developed” for bodies that have boomed real estate prices in the United States of America: whites.
The claim that gentrification is now a socio economic issue because Black and Non Black POC bodies are also moving into Bushwick and other gentrified neighborhoods is false. Black and Non Black bodies do NOT boom real estate prices; do NOT whitewash communities; do NOT gentrify communities in ways white bodies do.
The conscious white person who is considerate of the neighborhood s/he moves into understands the necessity of supporting Black & Non Black POC representation, business, existence, and can answer without hesitation:
Does my existence harm more than help the community I now live in?
I am highly disappointed by your data and claims. I will present each claim you made one by one to disprove statements that will cause white people in Bushwick to further ignore their duties as community members.
“If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you do not see.”
Since you have lived here for a year, after gentrifying San Francisco, you have not seen the changes that I have seen since my youth as a native. I live off the Wilson stop on the L line, which used to be called the Dark Side. I saw this section of Bushwick transition from government led crack infestation, to a place calmed by the hard work of Donas and Bodega owners who have cared for addicts without requesting payment, to a community experiencing an erasure of Black & Latinx bodies & businesses. A black owned affordable furniture store has been replaced by an eatery that sells one banana for one dollar, which steals customers from the Mexicana whose fruit stand outside of the Wilson station sells three bananas for one dollar.
It is important that you consider experiences that effects bodies directly, instead of data that shows you numbers on a screen.
Evangelos, you said “During such a volatile national atmosphere in the face of race and ethnic relations, my biggest worry is blame being placed on a single demographic for the woes caused by gentrification in Bushwick.” It is just as dangerous to claim that the legacy of EuroWhite invasion in the Americas have not trickled to 2015. During this volatile national atmosphere in the face of race and ethnic relations, Black and Non Black POC bodies are policed heavily by officers for years before you moved to Bushwick, so that you feel comfortable enough to step foot in the Dark Side and they are forced to move out.
These are not woes. These are bags under tired eyes and sore backs; these are aching necks and cramped sleeping conditions; these are rapid breathing caused by an increase in rent and consistently low income.
Do not deplete my community’s physicalized experiences to a word Drake has popularized.
The first three graphs you use as evidence that white bodies are not whitewashing are below. Now let me use these statistics in a way that does not coddle white tears:
These years were the years white artists began to move to Bushwick. Why are white bodies not considered in this graph? Because they did not rebuild Bushwick after the Italian Fires*; after government funded crack planting. These top five ethnicities stabilized Bushwick as a community forgotten by white money, but glorified by Black and Latinx bodies.
Now that we consider residence, 2.8% to 8.5% of an increase of bodies that boom real estate in less than ten years produces resources for “developers” to latch onto the cool post culture Bushwick experienced between 2000 and 2010. There is a 10% drop in Black bodies. Real estate gains rapidity by the month, so imagine a new bar in this graph that reflects Latinx, Black, & white residents in 2015. You will see a third bar in the section reflecting the increase in white bodies soar.
As the police force erases Black bodies in the United States of America via genocide, is it really a shock to you that Black bodies in Bushwick (and New York City) have decreased in numbers?
Evangelos, you say “The near consistent percentage of Hispanic residents indicates that the Hispanic demographic has grown nearly at the same rate as the total population growth of Bushwick. As the entire pie becomes larger every year, the percentage of the pie that the Hispanic group has dibs on stays the same, but their portion of the pie nonetheless is bigger in terms of physical size.”
In a nation that ever glorifies white bodies and their HIStory, Black and Non Black POC folk seek home with one another. We are not valuable in the eyes of the judicial, education, and economic systems of this nation. So we rebuild tattered neighborhoods, until of course a cool pose culture is bred from the white eyes’ appreciation for cracked streets and Bodegas.
You use one report to claim “… that the Hispanic community in Bushwick didn’t experience a decrease in their numbers during the economic crisis.”
This is wrong.
You look at numbers. I have seen my grandmother’s children, ten of thirteen, gentrified out of Bushwick. I have seen schools have to close down because their populations decreased too rapidly due to families seeking cheaper rent elsewhere. I have witnessed Bushwick become infested with white bodies and white spaces that aesthetically appeal to whiteness. I see white privilege decide the fate of mi communidad.
Photo by Native Bushwick Photographer, Danielle De Jesus
The most offensive statement you made was “The obvious question is where all of our Black/African American children are? I can only speculate, but the evidence seems to suggest that on a state and national scale, Black and African Americans are having fewer children, even though the reasons seem unclear as to why.”
Our Black/African American children? Black children are not yours because you hypocritically feel entitled to suggest in a whitewashing publication that Black folk are having fewer children…
Did you grow up in a Black family?
Do you currently live with a Black family?
Do you spend time with Black families across Bushwick?
Instead of considering the obvious relevance of a police state enforcing genocide on Black bodies, you victimize Black bodies by claiming that their depletion is due to their lack of child rearing.
This is absurd and you should openly apologize to all Black peoples of Bushwick.
Mural by Native Bushwick Muralist, Robert “TMO” Plater
You encourage readers to switch gears from blaming the influx of white bodies, to landlords and regulations. Landlord terrorism and racist regulations are to blame, as well as the white bodies that act as catalysts to said terrorism and enforcement of said regulations.
Evangelos, I appreciate your effort. However, know your positionality. As a white cis gender man gentrifying one Latinx & Black community and then an other, you do not have a position to speak so adamantly against the truth of whitewashing.
“Gentrification is NeoColonialism and whitewashing.”
NeoColonialist “developers” plan for years ahead. So if are using statistics from five years ago, they are now insufficient since luxury condos were planned in 2005 for white bodies to occupy in 2015.
Finally, We are not HIS-Spanic. Even though we have Spanish blood in us due to raped ancestors, we are Latinx.
Black and Non Black POC peoples are not minorities. In 2050 we will prove to be the majority, so watch your words.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peace & Love,
*Italian Fires - Before Bushwick was populated by Latinx & Black peoples, Italian families were the majority. When Black & Latinx bodies moved to Bushwick, real estate dropped too quickly for Italian familes to make profit from selling their homes. So, block by block, Italian families burned their homes for insurance, leaving rubble and crack for Latinx & Black families to clean up and rebuild upon. My ancestors did so successfully, for my generation and me.
Before It's Gone // Take It Back - B4G
GENTRIFICATION DISMANTLINGAn Open Letter to Gentrifying
Residents & Business Owners
Dear Gentrifiees & Gentrifiers,
As gentrification benefits an accelerating art boom for gentrifiees tricked into rent hikes, the rapidly dwindling Black community is experiencing an erasure so intense it culturally displaces Latinx and Black bodies still living in Bushwick.
As a native resident struggling to afford gentrification-induced rent hikes, there is an impending feeling of living in my home on borrowed time.
Walking around the neighborhood I was born, raised, and am based in, I am no longer comforted by the large population of Latinxs; the sounds of Spanish intertwining with Spanglish; the booming of the base from speakers that fill trunks of all my tios' cars to the brim; the sights of abuelas resting at their window to drink the world below instead of the television; the feeling of the strong Latinx culture.
Inclusion and invitation are at the forefront of the issues native Bushwick residents deal with when interacting with the booming art community. Division is apparent. New cafes and restaurants are exclusively marketed to those who pass for Gentrifiee. Native residents express on countless occasions the isolation felt when in a café that was once the corner bodega and in a gallery whose owner colonialistically kept the “99 Cent Store” sign of the establishment it bought out.
While gentrification justifies itself via arts institutions bringing a blinding light to a community that was already invested in art making, the reality is said institutions and audiences are predominantly white.
Vogue names Bushwick the 7th of 15 “Coolest Places to go in the World”. When one visits Bushwick, they will not see a Latinx & Black community engaging in the new businesses and arts institutions. They will see an overwhelming amount of white and hipster peoples occupying most of Bushwick. They will see repaved streets, fixed subway stations, heavier policing, and, yes, art decorating walls upon walls.
-Whose voice is present in these arts events?
-Who is invited to said events?
-What amount of work is put into outreach for those unable to access social media?
-How much of the remaining native population is represented in these arts event?
Exposure to art is necessary and healing for all. The maintenance and progression of resources arts institutions have developed in Bushwick are dependant on the cool, new perception the media-trusting world has of Bushwick, even though it was built on the backs of my mother's and grandmother's generations.
The capitalization of a predominantly Latinx community sounds too similar to the ways gentrification has completely changed the lower east side and Williamsburg. Both neighborhoods are assumed to be what they are seen as now. Truth is, Willamsburg and Alphabet City had heavy, beautiful Boriken and Dominican cultures thriving in poverty, until the area’s resources became a glint on the eyes of gentrifiees seeking exciting lives and opportunities in New York City. This encouraged gentrifiers, landlords & residential companies piggybacking on Buy Outs, to terrorize hundreds of families in Bushwick. This terrorism presents itself in unmet household repairs, unheated winters, missing boilers, and unrelenting attempts at eviction.
When you wake up tomorrow. Ask yourself these questions:
-Do I make efforts to engage with and learn from the community already here?
-Do I support small native businesses in Bushwick that are still standing?
-Are there clear examples of cultural erasure around me?
-Does my existence hurt more than help the Bushwick community?
I was born in Woodhull Hopsital. I was raised on Wyckoff & Greene.
I later attended I.S. 291 and lived Putnam & Wilson. My family was gentrified from Putnam & Wilson, seeking dependance on the Shelter system. They moved us to the South Bronx, then Brownsville.
I became a drama major at Talent Unlimited HS for the Performing arts on the upper east side. I graduated Trinity College in Hartford, CT with a Bachelors of the Arts degree in Theatre & Dance.
I moved back to Bushwick. Therefore, I am a gentrifiee able to skim by rent hikes.
As a conscious gentrifiee who cares more about my community than ways I can benefit from it, I develop relationships with neighbors and native businesses. I spread awareness that we should not develop more business, but invest in what is already here.
I fight so strongly because the effects of gentrification are not just some ethereal sadness, these effects rest in bodies and affect people for the rest of their lives. Although I have overcome & flourished and forgiven, I was stained in my high school years seeing my family struggle to find homes after losing the homes we had. Who lives in the homes my family used to occupy? I’m not sure.
I see the tension in my aunt’s back as we fight to get her back onto Section 8. I see the affect unto her eyes, her physical face, after crying for days not knowing if she and her three children will have a home to live in instead of one room in my abuela’s narrow rail road style home. I openly tell this story to remind you that oppression is not solely emotional, it is physical. And as you know, if you wake up with a knot in your back, it affects your day.
Now imagine the knots in one’s body when they wake up on a crowded, small bed or floor…
THIS IS WHAT GENTRIFICATION IS.
I present performances in informal spaces in Bushwick. I curate series with Black performance & visual artists. I am seeking new ways to increase the depleted Black representation in Bushwick-based arts institutions. I will engage with Bushwick high schools in effort to encourage conversation and art making that undo feelings of invalidation felt by students who, like me, are constantly reminded of white value. It is no stretch of truth that white people in the "United" States of America are born with an innate understanding that they will succeed:
We change channels to more and more white faces on television. We admire beautiful white men and womyn in magazines. We are constantly exposed to white representation in mass advertisement on subways and tourist areas of NYC. We have white teachers and are taught a white "American" HIStory praising white scientists & white artists & white revolutionaries. We see performances and the performers, creator(s), stage hand, light designer, sound technician, photographer, videographer, artistic director, and administrative staff are predominantly (if not, completely) white.
As the #BlackLivesMatter Movement swells in light of Black men, womyn, and trans genocide daily, I ask myself:
-How are our future Black generations to feel their inherent value?
-How do I disconnect gentrification and the erasure of my Latinx & Black community?
-What can I do to stop a gentrification that separates & physically relocates my family in effort to lure in youthful artists from across the country & around the world?
In effort to gain cultural capital, I see arts institutions using the phrase: “Bushwick is a Movement!”
Is Bushwick a Movement?
Who is at the forefront?
Who will it aid?
What does it intend to fix or dismantle?
Who is represented?
Questions induce conversation. Discussion brings understanding. Revelation ignites change. Change is revolution.
So ask yourself more often than not, for the sake of a community you live in and next to and with:
-Does my existence hurt more than help the Bushwick community?