Centuries before anyone noticed Christopher Columbus wandering around the Bahamas searching for gold and a place to buy caramel decaf frappuccinos, wypipo had long been moving into brown neighborhoods and planting flags. It’s how apartheid started. It’s why people in Brazil speak Portuguese. It’s why the Native American genocide was rebranded as “manifest destiny.”
Now that microcolonialism has been given the innocuous euphemism “gentrification,” it is no longer seen as threatening. As whiteness becomes America’s most lucrative industry, gentrification is now an unavoidable inevitability. While it may not be preventable, we thought you’d like to know a few ways in which you can be aware that your neighborhood is being slowly taken over by the Caucasian hordes.
The changing food landscape is the easiest way to tell when the whites are coming. A recent Johns Hopkins study on “food deserts” showed that minority neighborhoods often lack well-stocked grocery stores, leaving poor areas with fewer food options, many of which are higher-priced and unhealthy.
White people can’t live like this. Before they arrive in droves, they must make sure that they can get their gluten-free, vegan, farm-raised, free-range, organic couscous. Gentrification is usually prefaced by the arrival of healthy options and grocery stores with 29 varieties of tomatoes. If you ever spot a sign that says “Whole Foods Coming to This Location”—beware. In the unabridged gentrification thesaurus, “Whole Foods” is a universal synonym for “white people.”
Whole Foods draws white people like moths to a flame. It is a little-known fact that the cash registers at all Whole Foods locations emit a high-pitched frequency that only people with a low melanin count can hear. Every time they ring up a pomegranate-and-spicy-pumpkinseed quinoa salad, a white person hears the gentrification bat signal.
If you get a little slip on your door notifying you of a 30 percent rent increase, you can be sure that your neighborhood is about to get whiter. Brooklyn, N.Y., is the perfect example of how gentrification increases rent and pushes out lower- and middle-income minority families.
As Brooklyn became the mecca for New York hipsters, the area became younger, whiter and more affluent. A report by the New York University Furman Center says that the black population has decreased while the white population has increased for the first time since the 1970s. As the number of people with college degrees increased, so did the rent. Since 2000, rent in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Greenpoint has increased 79 percent, the report found.
Remember the little Jamaican restaurant where you used to get jerk chicken? Because they were out of oxtails. Because they were always out of oxtails. Because you think they keep oxtails on the menu to lure you in in the same way that McDonald’s keeps McFlurrys on the menu but the machine is always broken. Is the oxtails machine broken? Do you have to come at 6 a.m. to get oxtails? Never mind ... you’ll just have the jerk chicken. Again.
That Jamaican restaurant is now a Subway. Your barbershop is now a Starbucks. The beauty-supply store where you bought your weave and hair gel is now a Starbucks. In fact, everything is now a Starbucks, because if there’s one thing wypipo love more than bragging how they got their jeans from a thrift shop, watching This Is Us, uncoordinated writhing to guitar solos and white supremacy, it’s Starbucks.
Minority-owned businesses always disappear when a neighborhood becomes gentrified to make way for high-volume, corporate stores because small businesses like theirs can’t afford the rent. This eventually leads to the economic disempowerment of black communities because, often, the people who own small businesses live in the community and spend their money at other small businesses. The people at the Jamaican restaurant patronize the local dry cleaners. They get their hair cut at the local barbershop. They hire neighborhood kids.
Gentrification ends the recycling of money in minority neighborhoods because the new businesses usually send their money back to corporate headquarters, or have owners who don’t live in the neighborhoods where they own their business.
Alternately, there will always be an artisanal sandwich shop and a boutique that sells flowery dresses for $534 apiece. You’ll never see anyone in those stores, but somehow they stay around. I have a theory on those places:
Either it’s the Russian mafia, or they’re just reselling shit they found at thrift shops.
While it seems counterintuitive to seeing a population become higher-income and whiter, public schools suffer when neighborhoods gentrify. While the issue is complex and not completely understood, there are a few reasons experts think this phenomenon occurs:
- Gentrifiers are young. And as they displace families, gentrifiers aren’t as likely to get involved with schools-related issues.
- They take advantage of options. Because of their higher incomes, even those gentrifiers with children are more likely to take advantage of school choice, private schools and charter schools. This sometimes draws away higher-performing students from schools in the neighborhood, leaving lower-income and struggling students in public schools.
- Ewww, black people! White kids don’t go to schools with large minority populations. That’s a fact. Even though white kids make up a little more than half of the school-age population, most of them attend schools that are 75 percent white, according to a school diversity study (pdf).
- Good schools get better. The caveat to all of this is that gentrified neighborhoods with schools that are highly ranked tend to improve. That might be because some people choose neighborhoods based on the quality of schools, while single, younger people don’t care about occupying a neighborhood with bad schools.
All of this is based on America’s history of racial segregation, which affects schools more than any other public institution.
White people will call the cops on your ass in a minute. As your community turns whiter, you’ll notice a larger police presence. That’s because white people’s interactions with cops tend to mean they are safer, while black people’s interactions generally mean they will be less safe.
They call it “order maintenance.” It’s when police patrol white neighborhoods heavily to keep the peace. They stop
black suspicious people on their “gut feeling” when the perceived perpetrator looks like he or she doesn’t belong. They respond to calls quicker. In San Francisco, police patrol more in the city’s gentrified areas, which have also seen a rise in cases of police brutality. They have also seen a rise in people calling 311 (the nonemergency police number) to report people in their neighborhoods for noise violations and minor infractions.
Cops want to ensure that white people are happy. Many cities have installed “quality of life” phone numbers by which they can call police about nonemergency issues. In Seattle’s gentrifying Central District, 23 disturbance reports were filed in 2008—a fraction of the 116 that were filed in 2016, citing noise and other complaints.
The last step in recognizing Caucasian colonization is the rise in what is referred to in black America as “wypipo shit.” If a basketball court is replaced by a dog park, that’s wypipo shit. When was the last time a dog got a college scholarship or played his way out of a rough neighborhood? And if you bring up Air Bud, we might have to fight, because he went straight to the pros. Plus, he was a terrible rebounder and his 3-point jumper was trash.
If your neighbor knocks on your door and asks if you “don’t mind keeping it down between the hours of 3 p.m. and 1 a.m.” because that’s when she’s meditating and doing yoga, that’s wypipo shit. If you notice your corner store stops selling Black & Milds and 40s, but suddenly has SPF 201 sunscreen and microbrewery IPAs, that’s wypipo shit. If no one shows up at the Black Lives Matter march, but some white lady in Birkenstocks stops you in front of the Whole Foods to ask you to sign a petition to erase the neighborhood mural of Tupac and Biggie because their misogynistic lyrics might “trigger” someone and she wants the neighborhood to be a safe space, don’t punch her. You know the cops are somewhere near, and you know it’s too late to stop the white people from coming, anyway ...
They’ve already heard the bat signal.