Gentrification, by definition, is “the act of improving a house or district so that it conforms to middle-class tastes and preferences,” according to the New Oxford American Dictionary. To people of color, it’s the vile process of turning once beloved neighborhoods unrecognizable, unaffordable, and a complete whitewash of an entire community. The once drug infested, low income, abandoned and densely populated neighborhoods you thought were long forgotten, are now considered prime real estate.
The former Brooklyn home of the late Christopher Wallace was first introduced to us in the lyrics of his classic 1994 hit, “Juicy.” The song described the residence with phrases like, “Celebratin’ every day, no more public housin’, Thinkin’ back on my one-room shack…We used to fuss when the landlord dissed us
No heat, wonder why Christmas missed us”. Now, the residence is being described as a three bedroom, 972 sq.ft condo featuring hardwood floors and a rooftop deck with a monthly rental price of $4,000. Notice the change?
Ironically, the street itself was renamed to honor the slain rapper, and at the naming event, City Council member Laurie Cumbo said, “During the time that Biggie created masterpieces, this neighborhood was redlined; people didn’t want to live here, people moved out of the neighborhood…. now everybody in the world wants to come to Brooklyn.” Like most things, people really miss the mark with their “good intentions.” Hip Hop culture put Brooklyn on the map, and it’s a shame that the very people who could appreciate the history and what it represents, don’t have the wealth or the ownership to reclaim the block.