So Why Are We Here?

Biases are a part of human nature. We can’t escape them and no matter how much we claim to be ‘unbiased’ there will always be a little bit of it at the back of our subconscious informing the way we see the world. That doesn’t mean that these bias are stagnant, but an open mind is key. I certainly had my own bias and presumptions surrounding gentrification before this class and even up until this assignment. I’m sure there are some still there that will, hopefully, be challenged well beyond the end of this school year. Allow me to be more specific though. 

Gentrification is a loaded term, but it is also incredibly vague and open to many interpretations. I certainly I had my own ideas about it. To me, it was the establishment of ‘cool’ coffee shops, restaurants, galleries, and such in a neighborhood with a bourgeoning artist and young professional population. I definitely knew the negatives were there, but they resided in a deep recess of my brain. I think I was too enticed by all the vegan bakeries that were popping up. (Dis)placed Urban Histories was a much needed slap in the face. Within the few weeks I learned that gentrification is not just about cool coffee shops, but is in fact a much more quiet and much more insidious phenomenon then I had previously thought. I also did not comprehend how intersectional of an issue it was, which is a big reason I think it is talked about by so many groups and misunderstood by so many people. Yes, gentrification has a lot to do with displacement, but it is also about race, socio- economic status, the economy, the government, private actors, and the individual. 

Even with all that I had learned, I still had my bias going into this interview. I had a very specific idea of what would be said and some of those things were said, but there were also things said that I had not expected. Reading theory and doing research is fantastic, but it can only take you so far. Interviewing Melvin brought a new layer of, admittedly unexpected and surprising, nuance to my understanding of gentrification. So maybe I’ll never fully escape my bias, but I’ve realized that there is a certain beauty in admitting one’s own ignorance, taking a step back, and getting informed. 

So Why Are We Here?