Where Are We Going to Go?

Bedandon2nd.jpg

Located near Bedford Avenue and South 2nd Street, this mural depicts the subway moving beyond the Domino Sugar Factory—a physical representation of Los Sures' blue collar foundation. The movement, the change occuring in the neighborhood, is apparent. What is left is to determine is where this movement will take the area.

Gentrification is commonly associated with a change in how things look and how things are defined within the neighborhood. When a neighborhood becomes gentrified, the demographics of the area, the businesses open, the housing structures present, and other sectors undergo visible transitions. Within the process, the neighborhood can end up being something that does not seem to even resemble the space long-time residents built their foundation in. However, these changes—new housing, new stores, new people, new resources—is not inherently bad. On the surface, it can even be appealing.

The heart of the problem is that these changes are not meant to incorporate already existing members of the community and in fact often purposefully exclude them. As Edna put it in our interview, “They don’t paint it for us. They don’t make it like beautiful like this for us. They make it for somebody else.”[35] And the harm goes deeper than that. The exclusionary nature of the changes does not just work to isolate those already living the neighborhood—which would be bad enough—but actively remove those individuals from the neighborhood. When Edna reflects on going through Los Sures, it spurs thoughts like, “‘What is going on? It’s beautiful, but where you gonna live there? Here in— You’re gonna see, maybe four or five years, you’re gonna see no Hispanic here. You’re gonna see.”[36]

There is not a clear answer as to how to stop, reverse, or alter the current way in which change is occurring in Los Sures. This, however, does not equate to an end in critically looking at gentrification. With the voices of community members like Edna in the lead, the question needs to be continually asked and interrogated: What do we do? While a definitive answer does not seem to be close, every piece is another significant step towards getting there.

Where Are We Going to Go?