In the documentary “Urban Renewal is People Removal,” we are told that what used to be all about neighborhood – the smell, the feel – is now all about money. There used to be a kind of family atmosphere in places where both Blacks and Whites all lived in the same area. Children would play together in the street, there would be block parties, and everyone knew everyone. Then, the government decided to renew the city. Race always seems to be at the center of decisions. In this instance, the decision was to remove people from their long-time homes and move them to places they didn’t know. In effect, it was a one sided war with urban renewal as “the weapon in the hands of the governing body.” Urban renewal blew apart neighborhoods and made racial tension more prominent. Riots began to pop up and crime rates grew. Crimes went up because urban renewal moves people from what they know to new places they can’t afford, don’t understand, and know they don’t belong. All these people truly wanted was a good, safe neighborhood. One that reminded them of their childhood spent playing in the streets and conversing with the neighbors. None of that could happen in this new area of city.
Inga Saffron wrote “The Real Problem with Gentrification” in which she states that the biggest issue is not people being removed from their homes, but is in fact monotony. She goes on to say that in order for cities to grow they need a diverse population. Gentrification, however, causes the majority of the white middle class population to leave the city center. She writes, “Our inner cities are no longer very good at creating and then retaining a middle class.” This is a problem because then the neighborhoods fail. People are removed from where they grew up and large apartment buildings are put up. Saffron ends her article with these words: “Diversity in all its forms, is the urban advantage; it’s what lured a suburb-raised generation to 19th century rowhouses in the first place. After all these years of trying to revive their old neighborhoods, what a shame if it turns out American cities have birthed a new kind of monotony.” In effect, she is saying that gentrification brings about a feeling of separation from all other races. It makes these cities into one big place of homogeneity.
“5 Myths about Gentrification,” written by Lance Freeman, contrasts what Saffron was saying in her article that gentrification brings monotony. Freeman says at one point that “gentrifying neighborhoods are more racially diverse than non-gentrifying ones.” He does say at the beginning of his piece that gentrification is painted alternately as “a destroyer of neighborhoods or a savior of cities.” He is right in saying that it destroys neighborhoods. It rips apart the family atmosphere that was talked about in “Urban Renewal is People Removal.” True, gentrification can bring more jobs and shopping closer to where you are living, but that makes living center around making and spending money. Life is no longer about having fun with people who make you happy. It has shifted to center around jobs and money.
Essentially, gentrification is more about segregation than congregation. People are forced to live by people who are the same race as them. Not near the people who have the same interests as them. Gentrification is seen contradictory by many, but in this context, gentrification and urban renewal is not good for the people.