Gentrification can be likened to a heart transplant. Let me explain. One of the key factors in deciding to give a heart transplant is when a doctor strongly expects that a transplant will increase survival and improve the person’s quality of life. This makes complete since. Why would any doctor want to make someone’s quality of life worse?
So how does gentrification relate to heart transplants? Gentrification unlike a heart transplant has not taken into consideration the condition of the heart (the people) within the community…it’s needs, it’s concerns, it’s quality of life. The Civil Rights activist Ceaser Chavez, said that “we cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about the progress and prosperity for our community… our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.” Instead of taking in to consideration the needs, aspirations, and prosperity of those within the community; we start removing the heart of the community. What follows the heart is the churches, barber shops, and other local hubs that have provided resources and safe havens for so many. Removing a perfectly good heart and replacing it with one that beats only to the rhythm of the prosperity of the majority culture does a great disservice to our communities. Why are we removing good hearts? Wouldn’t it be better in the urban renewal process to ascertain from the community being perceived as needing renewal (a transplant), what actually needs to be renewed…what actually hurts? Instead there are limited questions asked within these communities before the transplants take place, and most of those are done so within a group of people that look exactly like us; people that are unaware of the needs and the trauma of the few.
These heart transplants that have been taking place during the urban renewal process are causing more damage than good. Gentrification is the new Jim Crow Law of the 21st century. The removal of colored communities within Portland and other cities is a passive form of segregation. The new Jim Crow is not as violent, or blatant as its predecessor, but has some of the same oppressive effects. Due to gentrification the majority no longer has to acknowledge the pain of minorities…out of sight and out of mind. It’s only when people of color agree to get align with the beat of this new heart…neglecting your own culture, and adopting the needs of the majority, that minorities are allowed to remain. In my opinion the urban renewal process is asking some to pay more than others, and for communities of color throughout the city the cost is too high. To give up our identity; to have our thoughts, and opinions disregarded for what’s only important, more profitable and ascetically pleasing to the majority: is a harsh reminder of the past and how far we have left to sojourn on the road to equality.
The Churches involvement in gentrification is vital. It has and is effecting many of our members. The pain and loss it has caused can no longer be denied. We must listen…We must see those who are being pushed out as part of our community. We must see ourselves “caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” -Martin Luther King Jr. Otherwise these new heart transplants will only aid in the deterioration of our communities.