The New York Times has fixed its gaze on Bedford Stuyvesant, one of the most popular destinations for urban gentrifiers dying to get a piece of New York City life. Located in central Brooklyn, the neighborhood is perhaps most famous for being the setting of Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing and for having been the stomping grounds of Biggie and Jay-Z. Once the largest African-American community in the country, the 2010 Census saw the Black population drop from 75 percent ten years ago to barely sixty percent; the section of the neighborhood west of Throop Avenue is now less than fifty percent Black.
The article features a few soundbites from the classic gentrifier couple that is profiled in these articles: came from a predominately White suburban area, grateful for the diversity, no mention of the lower-class displacement that has occurred.
From 2000 to 2010, Bed Stuy’s White population “soared 633 percent — the biggest percentage increase of any major racial or ethnic group in any New York City neighborhood.” Many homes in the area sell for prices upwards of one million dollars. And down the street from the Sal’s Bizarre featured in Lee’s film is now an Italian restaurant that sells pies with smoked salmon and cream cheese for twenty bucks.
Many Black homeowners have been able to remain in the Stuy, though some have chosen to seek greener pastures down South; renters have not fared so well, as a significant number have been priced out of the place they call home. Bed Stuy is still considerably less than other trendy BK ‘hoods, such as the neighboring Williamsburg, Clinton Hill and Fort Greene, but the new tide is still a bit much for lower-income resident.
I live in Bed Stuy and the change over the past few years has been mind-blowing. While I appreciate the improvements to the subway and new dining options, I resent the fact that there had to be an economic and racial changing of the guard to make it happen. I also worry that the neighborhood will lose much of the Black cultural epicenter feel that drew me in originally and if I will ever be able to afford to raise a family here. While some of the new neighbors are wonderful people, there are some very uncomfortable feelings to manage when it comes to them (especially those who came with suitcases packed with entitlement).Ultimately, people of all races have to take responsibility for the challenges that left Bed Stuy open to being gentrified in the first place, but my people are the ones who have so much to lose when it comes to this new era of urban living. And so it is with Chicago, Philly, DC….
Is your area being gentrified? How do you feel? Are you grateful for improvements? Enjoying the diversity? Feeling marginalized? What’s your take, Clutchettes and Clutch Gents?