"...Despite developers, the sell-out politicians and their supporters believing that all these changes to the neighborhood are for the better, I still am asking 'better for who?'"


Originally posted on Make New York Grimey Again here.
This is a reposted article. If you would like to see your work here on Red Voice, contact us at contact@redvoice.news.

Last June, I had the displeasure of writing about a possible Starbucks opening on 774 Broadway, where the long-standing Fat Albert’s Warehouse stood for years. Fat Albert’s Warehouse is like a Brooklyn landmark standing on the border of Bed Stuy and Bushwick. I spoke my piece about why I wasn’t fucking with it and why its a “nail in the coffin” for both neighborhoods. Not too long after, the Bushwick Daily published an article about Fat Albert’s staying open and not closing for Starbucks. Many people sent me the link to this article thinking it was a win. Apparently these people never read the article because it stated that a Starbucks IN FACT would still be opening with Fat Albert’s also staying in business. For months, I’d pass the Fat Albert’s Warehouse with my mother as we walked from Woodhull Hospital to Sumner Projects. The original entrance facing the hospital was closed with their new entrance barely noticeable, pretty much a hole in the wall. Last month the Starbucks officially opened for business, leaving people in awe as it seemed to pop up overnight. It stands and operates out of the original entrance of Fat Albert’s Warehouse, with Fat Albert’s in the cut and a newly-opened sneaker store “Kicks USA” to the left of it. It has the set-up of a mini mall.

The “local-elected representatives” are still pushing this Starbucks as an amazing “opportunity” for low-income communities, giving job training to the oppressed nationalities, thus giving them the skills to work at other places and “investing” in the people of Bed Stuy and Bushwick. Another one of these Starbucks has opened in the Jamaica neighborhood in Queens prior to this location. Bed Stuy has been one of the neighborhoods that are viciously attacked by rapid gentrification. Every other block has new housing developments, many of them right across from Sumner, Tompkins and Marcy Projects. Despite developers, the sell-out politicians and their supporters believing that all these changes to the neighborhood are for the better, I still am asking “better for who?” Bed Stuy is STILL a low-income neighborhood. All the yuppies from the Midwest, the newly graduated college students, those who left Manhattan for the “hip, urban and cultured” borough of Brooklyn, and the wealth they brought with them HAVE YET TO BENEFIT the long-time residents of the Stuy and other gentrified hoods in Brooklyn or NYC as a whole. Bushwick Daily wrote another article last month about the Starbucks opening which included the thoughts of an owner of the “Bushwick Grind” cafe who said “maybe we get the opportunity to hire baristas that have gone through some of their training.” When asked about the gentrification affecting the Stuy and Bushwick, this person said “I know people have opinions about this area rapidly gentrifying. And we hear people’s opinions. But again, there’s always two views of how this can go.” Hmmm…. So you know there are concerns and what gentrification is doing to these neighborhoods but you’d rather play both sides? Well, I was quoted by AM New York in an article about this same exact issue surrounding these neighborhoods and this new Starbucks location. I found some really good info from a study used in this artcle actually. So for those who want to play the fence and act as if its just a coffee shop trying to disconnect it from a wider political issue, here’s the findings from these studies. I want you to look me in my eyes and tell me how beneficial this little Starbucks and gentrification as a whole has been for my people.

According to the  “Focus On Gentification” study by furmancenter.org:

  • While rents only increased modestly in the 1990s, they rose everywhere in the 2000s, most rapidly in the low-income neighborhoods surrounding central Manhattan.
Most neighborhoods in New York City regained the population they lost during the 1970s and 1980s, while the population in the average gentrifying neighborhood in 2010 was still 16 percent below its 1970 level.One third of the housing units added in New York City from 2000 to 2010 were added in the city’s 15 gentrifying neighborhoods despite their accounting for only 26 percent of the city’s population. Gentrifying neighborhoods experienced the fastest growth citywide in the number of college graduates, young adults, childless families, non-family households, and white residents between 1990 and 2010-2014. They saw increases in average household income while most other neighborhoods did not.Rent burden has increased for households citywide since 2000, but particularly for low- and moderate-income households in gentrifying and non-gentrifying neighborhoods. • The share of recently available rental units affordable to low-income households declined sharply in gentrifying neighborhoods between 2000 and 2010-2014.
  • There was considerable variation among the SBAs classified as gentrifying neighborhoods; for example, among the SBAs classified as gentrifying, the change in average household income between 2000 and 2010-2014 ranged from a decrease of 16 percent to an increase of 41 percent.

Hmmm… okay. When a comrade told me I was quoted in the AM New York, I went to go search for the article. I was called a disgruntled blogger. I don’t feel any way about it but some raised it as possibly worded in a negative connotation. I won’t jump to conclusions as I do appreciate being highlighted in the article. One thing I do agree with is that I am disgruntled. I am very angry about what is happening to my neighborhood, my borough, my people and my city. What I intend to do with my blog is speak for those who are being displaced, those who are seeing the places they knew all their lives look entirely different, those who are treated as outsiders by their “new neighbors” who oftentimes call the cops on them, those who feel like they owe their votes and loyalty to politicians who lie and sell them out and so forth. I keep it real while yall deadass lie to my people about the true intent of what the fuck is going on. This is why I have this blog. This is why I do what I do.