Photo by Nomadic Lass/Flickr (Creative Commons)
In stories of gentrification, that process by which lower-income neighborhoods are renovated through an influx of wealth that simultaneously pushes poorer residents and merchants out, the role of the gentrifier is often played by whites, the role of the displaced by people of color.
But it's not that simple, as seen in the conversations surrounding a couple of recent posts on Multi-American and its Washington, D.C. sister site DCentric. Neighborhoods in both cities have been experiencing investment in businesses and real estate by more affluent minorities, notably Latinos in Los Angeles' historic Boyle Heights and blacks in D.C.'s Anacostia community.
What is the role of the gentrifier of color? In a piece titled "Shades of Gentrification" on the KCET Departures site last year, Gary Dauphin explored the demographic changes that have occurred in neighborhoods like Venice's once-predominantly black Oakwood community, writing eloquently about the people who "often sit between the place's old and new incarnations, becoming the positive 'local color' that gives a gentrifying area its coveted character."
Screen shot from www.kcet.org
The map resonated for readers, with people posting comments like "Someone forgot about Koreatown" and "I'm one o' dem scary white people in the hills" (yes, the map labeled one area as "scary white people in the hills"). Other areas were labeled simply as "black," "brownish," "hipsters" or "homeless."
The map contest has continued, and while the entries since haven't packed quite the same punch, one stood out for depicting what is undoubtedly the tiniest of the city's officially recognized ethnic neighborhoods, Little Bangladesh.
The neighborhood, part of the larger Koreatown area, received its official designation in recent months after protracted wrangling among different ethnic groups in the area. It is a short strip along 3rd Street between New Hampshire and Alexandria avenues, named for the Bangladeshi immigrants who began settling in Koreatown about two decades ago.
Screen shot from www.kcet.org
A city that's perceived by some as multi-culti heaven is a starkly segregated place for many Angelenos, and this map serves as a reminder of that.
The map was submitted recently to KCET as part of an ongoing "Map Your L.A." contest, in which the station is seeking hand-drawn maps from residents. Contestants are asked to map the city as it applies to them and their experience of it. One contest entry portrays the city as a simple path from downtown to the beach; another focuses on the region's waterways.
This blunt, not-necessarily-PC entry from "A Concerned Citizen" makes no bones about the city's racial and ethnic boundaries. From the KCET Departures contest entry page:
This map illustrates an L.A. that is segregated by race, ethnicity, class, and sexual orientation all under an editorial title that calls for concern. The map itself is simple, with a larger message written between, under, across, and on top of the lines.
Photo by qthomasbower/Flickr (Creative Commons)
Please give a warm welcome to KPCC's Kim Bui, editor of the OnCentral blog and Multi-American guest blogger of the day:
As an adult, I’ve rarely had a conversation about race without it slowly turning toward relationships.
Yes, many Asian women date white guys. Indeed, I tend to be one of them.
Today I spied a post on KCET's website titled "Love Isn't Blind, It's Just Near Sighted," which began:
Last week a good friend posed a question to me, "Do you only date white men?" It took a minute for me to reply, it was a question that has floated around me since I was able to sneak out of the house in high school.
The post incorporated various people's answers to the question, "Why do Asians predominately date Caucasians?"
I mentioned it to Leslie, which led to a long-winded conversation about dating and marriage and gossiping Vietnamese mothers, which in turn led to Leslie asking me to share a little on my experiences.
Photo by jwilly/Flickr (Creative Commons)
The skyline from the top of Runyon Canyon Park in Hollywood, January 2008
A couple of months ago, I featured an excerpt from a popular post on the KCET website by author D.J. Waldie on the disappearance of the Spanish consonant ñ, pronounced “enye,” from the word that we in Los Angeles use to describe ourselves.
Angeleños became Angelenos toward the end of the 19th century, as eastern and midwestern migrants came west, changing the region's Spanish-speaking identity. But over the course of the 20th century and into the 21st, that identity has continued to evolve as the cultural landscape is continuously reshaped by newcomers from Latin America and elsewhere around the globe.
What is an Angeleno today? How does the culture we were raised in, and the part of the L.A. area we call home, shape how we define ourselves?
I'll be taking up these and other questions next Tuesday night during a panel event at KPCC. My guests will include Waldie, who is one of my favorite local authors, and Eric Avila, an associate professor of Chicano studies, history and urban planning at UCLA.