While listening to NPR, I heard a podcast about a restaurant that situated itself in a new gentrified community in Crown Heights Brooklyn. At the grand opening of the restaurant, the owner exclaimed that she kept a bullet hole in the wall as a novelty to pay homage to the crime-ridden community that existed before the trendy new bar opened its doors.
The truth is that the hole wasn’t from a gunshot but from a refrigerator. However, to romanticize crime in poor minority communities and pack the new establishment, it sounded better. It made the space more ethnic, i.e., hood, ghetto.
The sad part of this story is not just that this privileged young woman had lied, but that she was so disconnected from the community where she entrenched her business that the only narrative that she would use is that of gun violence.
By no means do I believe that gentrified neighborhoods create a platform of division or violate or intensify already struggling race relations. However, I think lacking cultural competency or failing to gain an understanding of either the existing community or its people breeds an environment for conflict.
Inner city violence is not something that should be glorified as families mourn loss following senseless crimes that are committed and never solved. Let’s stop looking at others’ pain and loss as capital gain because we can comfortably remove ourselves, and it’s not our story. This is real life and individuals’ pain and loss should not be novelized but be treated as a life. Community should not be dismissed but valued and invested in to facilitate change.
Food for thought. Keeping it real.