Every time I walk to the Starbucks by campus, I pass by a grey streetlight with the black bold letters tagged on the base: “Rich People Killed NYC.”
Gentrification is when a neighborhood experiences an influx of middle to high class people, pushing those who were here before out as they renovate properties and prices. Growing up, gentrification wasn’t something I thought I saw.
People are displaced as wealthier people move into Clinton Hill. With every Starbucks or luxury boutique that opens, the area becomes a richer and generally paler crowd. The truth of our lives is this: by simply coming to Pratt, we are contributing to displacement.
The fact that our campus has a sculpture park and trees makes it a more desirable place to be. This little piece of paradise in the middle of Brooklyn has provided us with a humble abode and the opportunity for a better future. Our own ambitions to improve our lives have created a paradox, however: by bettering ourselves, we are actively contributing to gentrification.
What can one do to be helpful? One attainable solution is to shop locally and support local businesses. Avoid Starbucks, and go to the café that’s across the street. Instead of buying food on Amazon, shop at smaller businesses. Mr. Coco’s on Myrtle is where I get my produce. Respect the businesses that were here before you were, and that provide local jobs.
Navigating gentrification is challenging. What you can do is acknowledge and respect the people who have always been here.
For a living list of anti-gentrification organizations, nonprofits and resources, both community-organized and run, visit https://www.nuevayorkinos.com/save-nyc.
Photo by Amber Duan