I as soon as heard somebody, who occurs to be fairly progressive and white, say the next, almost verbatim: “I live in Harlem. I feel awful about living in Harlem because I do not want to contribute to gentrification. In light of this, I am going to move to Bushwick.”
My response to this—primarily out of politeness—was a silent nod. Deep down, I used to be furrowing my forehead. I discovered their proposition to be peculiar and paradoxical.
I discover the overall progressive agenda regarding gentrification to be equally peculiar and paradoxical in an identical vein. Progressives are identified to be against gentrification. They’re very vocal about their opposition to it. And to their credit score, gentrification is worthy of being criticized. It drives out residents from their hometowns. Very typically, this displacement is permanent and disproportionally affects minority groups. Yet, progressives are one among gentrification’s main drivers.
Bushwick is likely one of the most gentrified neighborhoods in New York City. The means of Bushwick’s gentrification has been within the public eye for decades. What has been driving this gentrification? Mainly, under-employed liberal millennials. It is completely comprehensible why so many younger people have flocked to locations like Bushwick: hire is affordable and popular culture has been tied to neighborhoods like it, which draws in younger residents.
There is one thing morbid concerning the moralizing we hear from progressives about gentrification. It is not the criticism itself that’s morbid. Rather, it’s the context from which this criticism is arising. Specifically, when this criticism is coming from white progressives residing in gentrified neighborhoods like Bushwick, the messenger, slightly than the message, ought to be known as into nice query. How a lot ought to I belief an individual’s “virtuous” opposition to one thing they are inflicting?
On the one hand, gentrification has been shown to profit candidates that are most aligned with progressive agendas, like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Keep in thoughts that the particular gentrification in query—gentrification in NYC—has disproportionately benefited white residents, together with white residents who had been already residing in these neighborhoods earlier than they had been gentrified.
There’s one thing profoundly pompous a few self-proclaimed progressive lamenting about gentrification, all whereas reaping the advantages of it and immediately inflicting it. Is it not particularly morbid to see these similar white residents sporting Black Lives Matter T-shirts, all whereas pushing Black residents out of their neighborhoods to allow them to sit and moralize at their good new espresso store?
To paraphrase Princeton University doctoral pupil Katie Donnelly, progressives are both silent or in stark denial relating to their contribution to gentrification. The moralizing we see from progressives on this matter is a veil for his or her complacency. When confronted on their contribution to what they are saying they hate, white gentrifying progressives have minimized their involvement, typically rationalizing it and even deflecting any accountability for his or her position within the matter. They say they wish to contribute to their neighborhood’s group—particularly, neighborhood actions centered round its non-white residents—however they seldom, if ever, do.
According to Donnelly’s examine, white progressives residing in gentrified neighborhoods even query whether or not or not the dangerous results of gentrification had been occurring the place they lived. Some deny the shortage of affordability of their neighborhood as correlated with gentrifiers shifting in, regardless of plentiful proof on the contrary. When confronted with their involvement in selling gentrification, progressives both justify it, deny it, or deflect the issue altogether. From an ethical perspective, when these similar people search social clout for his or her progressive opinions, one can solely name this out as hypocritical and to the ethical detriment of many.
Given the tendencies of progressives to proliferate cancel or call-out culture, it’s time that such progressives level the finger at themselves. Morally and politically talking, you can’t have it each methods. It will not be proper to get ethical brownie factors for criticizing the very course of you refuse to confess your complacency towards. Doing so is merely a show of “passive-progressivism.” In different phrases, it’s to carry the “right opinions,” however to behave in a way that advances your personal self-interest, versus the pursuits which are according to these “right opinions.” There’s nothing sensible or noble about self-praise relating to one’s personal progressivism.
Moral posturing, riddled with disingenuousness, is what permits white progressives to proceed gentrifying. And it’s what is going to allow them to proceed gentrifying without ridicule. They should be ridiculed. Not solely are they increasing the very sociological process they say they hate, however they are dishonest about their involvement in it, purely for the sake of saving face. They don’t wish to imagine that they are racist or take part in methods that negatively influence communities of colour. But they do, and so they have to be known as out for his or her makes an attempt to deflect accountability.
If you are a white progressive residing in a gentrified neighborhood, do not deceive your self or anybody else. You’re a part of the issue.
Should it’s important to transfer due to this? Or is there a strategy to reconcile your distaste for gentrification, even whenever you are rising it? Donnelly’s study on the matter—she spoke on to the hypocritical people in query—hopes for the latter. I share her hope that extra white progressives try and come clean with this hypocrisy. Yet, the information is unpromising. There is a bent to dig our heels into the bottom, particularly in these politically polarized occasions. And given the sheer energy of toxic identity politics in our present tradition, that is unlikely to vary anytime quickly.
Daniel Lehewych is a graduate pupil of philosophy on the CUNY Graduate Center, specializing in ethical psychology, ethics and the philosophy of thoughts. He is a contract author, powerlifter and well being science fanatic.
The views expressed on this article are the author’s personal.