Last night I was catching up on one of my favorite podcasts, “The Friend Zone,” which referenced a listener submitted letter addressed to Kid Fury of “The Read.” This letter stirred up emotionally charged responses from the co-hosts of both shows, but disturbed YouTube sensation and native New Yorker @HeyFranHey more than anyone else.
The letter, written by “Snowflake,” expressed the frustration of a post-grad caucasian millennial who has been experiencing serious shade by way of dirty stares, refusal of service at local businesses and being spit on by her unhappy neighbors in her new Washington Heights neighborhood. “Snowflake” says she moved to this predominantly Dominican-occupied part of town to save on rent and to be closer to the 1 train to get to and from work easier. In the letter she mentions that she is aware of how the neighborhood is changing and what that means for many long-time residents (that they’re getting booted out due to rent hikes to meet the new demand) but she did so with an “Oh well!” type of tone.
HeyFranHey of “The Friend Zone” passionately pleaded for other gentrifiers (read: apathetic white folk) to fully acknowledge how their new found desire for convenience displaces a marginalized people– the very people who were pushed into these communities disenfranchised communities and forced to make due. Decades of work and cultivation is now being turned upside down as families and neighborhoods are slowly being torn apart in part due to gentrification.
Kid Fury of “The Read” also pointed out the fact that in her neighborhood especially there are unique cultural and language differences that her presence further shakes up, as many business in the community cater to a strictly Spanish-speaking population. Washington Heights had been a place of refuge for new immigrants to come and have an easy transition into their new home, so I can imagine that the presence of more and more white faces would be threatening to the sense of community they once felt.
Today I came across this video from a recent episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live that was so perfectly timely that I had to share. While 1989’s “Do the Right Thing” Spike Lee joint was based in Brooklyn, New York and many other major cities including Washington, D.C. are seeing some of the same changes poked fun of in this satirical trailer.
Highlight: Rosie Perez, one of the original characters from the film is in this clip. Public Enemy’s Flava Flav also makes an appearance during the folk-remix of “Fight the Power” sequence.
Check out the video and let me know your thoughts on the negative effects of gentrification below.