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Stoned Gentrification

The Other Side of the Tracks: A Socially Speaking commentary

November 16, 2010

By Perry Redd

I can’t imagine anything more vulnerable than a baby.  A baby kitten, a baby rat or a baby baby.  As a human being, I’ve learned that without another human being (in my case, my mother), I’d have not lived to write this commentary to you.  It took the compassion—and maybe even love—to nurture me (and anyone else) to get to this point in life.  Someone put food, water and shelter in and around us to get us here.  Sure, some of us were abused, neglected and stepped on, but here we are.

Knowing that, I have to wonder about how people can embrace capitalism—and use it—to destroy the lives of other human beings?  I’ve lived in two cities where I witnessed an involuntary mass exodus from the communities in which a people and their predecessors inhabited for many previous decades; then, other people with goo-gobs of money came in and displaced them with promises of a “better community”…and moved smaller numbers of other people with goo-gobs of money into those former communities.  This is called gentrification.

Let me tell you what it looks like when capitalism robs one of his humanity: Fuyuhito Moriya is 39, an unmarried man, and his mother, Yoko, live in a house that’s built on 30 square meters, that’s the same as the size of a parking space for one car. They live in what’s called an ultra-small house, a genre of single family homes bred of Japan’s economic stagnation and brought to life by architectural ingenuity. Now what person with half a heart would sell a house to a person—no, two people—a house the size of a car?  For half-a-million dollars, no less?

Sure, you say, “well, someone bought it!”  But let’s look at the full context of the situation.  What economic conditions made it so bad that someone would even consider buying something like that? Only a greedy, non-principled, un-Christian-like person would do something like that…or am I wrong?  Christians do that all the time, right?

Housing—or the need for livable space—is the topic of discussion here.  But let’s be accurate and clearly differentiate the contrast between need and greed.  Gentrification denotes the socio-cultural changes in an area resulting from wealthier people buying housing property in a less prosperous community.  Consequent to gentrification, the average income increases and average family size decreases in the community, which may result in the informal (and intentional) economic eviction of the lower-income residents because of increased rents, house prices, and property taxes.

This type of population change reduces industrial land use when it is redeveloped for commerce and housing. In addition, new businesses, catering to a more affluent base of consumers, tend to move into formerly blighted areas, further increasing the appeal to more affluent migrants and decreasing the accessibility to less wealthy natives. With that said, someone clearly know what they’re doing.  For cryin’ out loud, they wrote it in a dictionary!

Which brings me to my point: the intentional displacing of poor and low-income people the result of “selective amnesia” on the part of people with access to resources, is oppositional to the values that they’ve been taught and that they profess to hold.  The embrace of capitalism is the excuse they use to do the dirty deed.  Taking advantage of the most vulnerable in a society gives me all the reason in the world to distrust, disrupt and despise those who proudly hold the title “gentrifiers.”  The battle isn’t over yet.


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