Gentrification and displacement aren’t happenstance. Just like police brutality, they are the direct result of a system that values property over people most often at the expense of Black and Brown community members. George Floyd isn’t the first black person to be killed by this system of violence. Before him there were marches for Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Kayla Moore, Oscar Grant and many more who were extrajudicially murdered by the state where they should have been safest—in their community. The global uprising of support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and in particular the response of white community members, reminds us of the power and potential we have to create meaningful change in our communities every day. In all 50 states and nations across the world, folks have joined in protest against violent police but achieving justice requires as much intentionality as the system we’re fighting against. Our communities can’t move forward without acknowledging and addressing racism. Here are six steps white people can take to be better allies in the fight against gentrification and systematic oppression.
- DON’T call the police. The police will violate the peace and integrity of your neighbors. They uphold and perpetuate the violence of white supremacy and capitalism. Research shows that gentrification leads to increases in 311 and 911 calls, which puts the lives of Black and Brown community members at risk.
- DO support local businesses. Shop at long standing local businesses. Buy food from street vendors! Get your haircut at the local barber! Whatever you do don’t spend all your money at the shiny new coffee shop or worse the artisanal mayo shop.
- DON’T alienate or harass people who already live in the neighborhood. From the kids running down the block to the old candy lady on the corner, every member of your community wants to live in peace. Don’t be the neighbor on Next Door using fear mongering or complaining about people’s yard decorations.
- DO support permanent supportive housing and affordable housing geared for lower income people and vulnerable community members. You can SUPPORT this at Neighborhood Council meetings and other public hearings. Find out what kind of development old time locals want, and support it. Don’t rent or buy from a landlord/speculator/real estate agent who has profited off of displacing someone. Check out OWN-IT! to learn more about who owns what and track building owner histories.
- DO educate yourself! Be intentional about learning the histories of racism, displacement, and gentrification in your city. Fight hate with education. You can find out more about gentrification and how to volunteer to fight it from organizations like SAJE, LA Tenants Union, Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA), East Los Angeles Community Corporation (ELACC), Women Organizing Resources Knowledge and Services (WORKS), and others.
- Get Organized! We are stronger when we take collective action. Find groups already fighting against gentrification and displacement in your community. Learn about proposed policies and legislation that can protect neighborhoods and neighbors in danger of being evicted. Support them with your time and money.