In cities across the country, gentrification is displacing African Americans. In the District of Columbia, for instance, a new study found that for the first time in nearly 60 years, the city’s black population dipped below 50 percent. Historically black neighborhoods are being transformed into "gilded ghettos" for white millennials.
At the same time, gentrification is erasing African American cultural heritage from public memory. In Philadelphia, the Royal Theater, once considered “American’s Finest Colored Photoplay House,” has been reduced to a façade.
To raise money to pay for the sins -- and crimes -- of its priests, the Archdiocese wants to sell St. Peter Claver Catholic Church, the Mother Church of Philadelphia’s black Catholics.
The historic church is listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. So prospective buyers should take note there will be hell to pay if they try to demolish the historic properties.
In Denver, gentrifiers are moving into Five Points, once known as the Harlem of the West. As gentrifiers move in, longtime African American residents are displaced. To rub salt in the wound, a local coffee chain, ink! Coffee, celebrates gentrifying the neighborhood.
The chain’s founder, Keith Herbert, said it was a “joke.” Well, the joke is on him. The in-your-face sign of white privilege garnered negative headlines from coast-to-coast (here, here and here). In a Facebook post, Herbert apologized for the “joke”:
I have been following the comments on social media and listening to our customers, and I want you to know that I hear you. I have used the last 24 hours to listen to your perspectives, and to better educate myself on gentrification. I am embarrassed to say that I did not fully appreciate the very real and troubling issue of gentrification, and I want to sincerely apologize to those who understand firsthand the hardship and cultural consequences that gentrification has caused in the Five Points neighborhood, throughout the City and County of Denver and in communities throughout our state.
Hebert said he will “educate” himself about the issue. If he had not closed the Five Points location on Saturday, the hundreds of protesters would have schooled him that gentrification is no laughing matter to those who are pushed out.
Community leaders and activists have called for a boycott of ink! If you have family or friends in the Denver area, please help spread the word: #DontDrinkInk.
I’m a coffee drinker but I would rather drink muddy water than a drop of the white privilege ink! is brewing.
UPDATE: The creative “genius” behind the ink! Coffee sandwich-board sign, Cultivator Advertising & Design, Inc., has taken its website offline.
Now that’s funny.