DC Gentrification, Ctd

Ta-Nehisi Coates responds to Matthew Yglesias:

Her contention that the city is "driving us out of here." is very much debatable. But it's worth noting that a class of owners with a commitment to something more than a naked financial return is a good thing. When Matt asserts that the city is trying to make H Street a "desirable place to live," I am compelled to ask "desirable for whom?" I'm not being obtuse here--I understand, in the aggregate, his larger point. But very often people find a kind of value in their living condition that eludes socioeconomic data.

You could look at the stats of black people in this country and conclude that it absolutely sucks to black. But very few black people I know actually feel that way. They don't wake up thinking about the HIV rate, or go to bed thinking about the incarceration rate. They process their lives with those greater realities, but more so in terms of details, in terms of specific places, specific people, and specific experiences that hold emotional value for them. They form a narrative that connects all of these various bits, and sometimes that narrative centers around their place of residence. And sometimes that narrative means just as much, or even more, than property values.

I made a similar point yesterday, but I'd just like to add one thing. Often in passing, I hear white folks moving into these neighborhoods register complaints along the lines of, "did people prefer the neighborhood when it was riddled with violence?" This question presupposes a very self-serving narrative, that black people are emotionally attached to pathology. The answer is no, people don't miss the open-air drug markets, the occasional daylight beatdown or drive-by shooting. Few people, least of all those who recall DC during the crack era, romanticize those things. But it doesn't really matter if the neighborhood is safer and nicer than it used to be if you can't even afford to stick around and enjoy it.

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