Time for a remix on black neighborhoods and gentrification? (Thinkstock)

Atlantic blogger Ta-Nehisi Coates expresses his discontent with the narrative on black neighborhoods and gentrification. This time he does it without satire.

On a less satirical note, a lot of my discontent with our narrative of gentrification doesn't come from a lack of sympathy for the poor and working class of black America. On the contrary, it comes out of deep anger at how little effort we invest in understanding how things got this way, and our abiding desire to change the subject and engage in nostalgia, simply because the truth is depressing, annoying, and lacking in sufficient exoticism. 


In the world of politics, nostalgia is a kind of quitting. It says, "I can't deal with today, can we go back to yesterday?" But a particular yesterday, without its attendant problems unfortunately the facts of the thing are not very counter-intuitive nor contrarian, and certainly don't lend themselves to worship. 

We start with a group of people living as slaves for 250 years, in a nation that eventually bills itself as the land of liberty and free labor. We take what should be their wages and transfer them to someone else. For the last hundred years of that epoch we forbid them from marrying, and throughout we randomly sell off their kids, some of whom are actually our kids. We forbid them to learn to read. We subject them to random but frequent acts of sexual violence. We pass laws against that minority of them who are to achieve freedom ranging from bans on everything from voting to gun-ownership to serving on juries.  

Read Ta-Nehisi Coates' complete column in the Atlantic.