Can a Black Girl Be a Gentrifier?

Image by McFresh
Art by McFresh

can a black girl be a gentrifier?

i ask myself this a lot
these days.

no fixed gear bike
or constant trips to whole foods.
but i wear my horn rimmed warbry parkers
and cradle my diana ross and bee gees
vinyl records.
the blurred line of
false individualism
and the desire to be
above the rest.

black girls don’t get
to be themselves.
just tied in all
of everyone else expectations.

a born and bred new yawker
cuz we’re walking
drinking coffee

but i’ve had a very diverse upbringing
born in Queens
raised in the BX_
the Bronx
the biggest baddest borough
we can agree to disagree.

remembering bodega hoping
mister softee flagging
double dutch playing
memories of my childhood
thru colorful anecdotes

moved at 13
to “upstate”
in my mind anything over the tappen zee bridge
is upstate.

i went from living and going to school
with faces that looked kinda like me
to being the only one
or one of a handful

suburban black girls are all stuck in limbo
born elsewhere
raised elsewhere.
living where
we don’t belong.
finding yourself in a place
that doesn’t accept you _
made growing up
and silencing.

you either assimilated
or created your own
all black girl gang.
straddling these two words
of blackness and otherness,
i played the mulatto special snowflake
and militant black panther

suburbia is a hell of transition

of course I wanted to move back
to the concrete jungle
to the city lights
to every cliché all kids who move
from ohio sing about in campy movies.

for my home,
that was never my home
i became restless.
lived there for 10 years
just never made my roots.
i left as soon as being 20-something
underemployed forever an intern
actually became an employed pretend adult.

moving to Brooklyn
was a cliché
on the hipster checklist
and almost unaffordable.
but you’ll be surprised
how much you can save
on a budget.

but here i am

working in midtown
living in bushwick
in a neighborhood that’s
still “up-and-coming”
my rent just says
another increase in a year.

sometimes i feel like an explant
that my very presence
has deteriorated what once
made the neighborhood a

shit what happened to the people
who lived in my “newly” renovated apartment
before me?

the long time residents
can see their community
fade away before their very eyes

i joke about yuppie white hipsters
changing the neighborhood
but here i am
apple products
skinny jeans
coffee drinker
kendrick lamar
and social justice and all.

for i talk about gentrification
but am i part of the problem?
i moved where I could afford to pay rent
but I also wanted my childhood back.
more faces that kinda look like me
the kind of diversity only new york can bring.

so sad that in 10 years I’ll be the only one
or one of a handful.

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