FOH with that gentrification mantra.
I’ve been wanting to write about this for a long time. I heard it a number of times in the beginning years of my anti-gentrification activism, but the empty adage finally got to me when I was at a West LA Planning Commission helping defending La Fiesta Brava from displacement (circa 2016.) As I recall it was the original building owner’s grandchildren and a couple other entitled gentry making their appeal in favor of displacing La Fiesta Brava to the commission.
“You can’t stop gentrification any more than you can stop the sun from setting.”
Or some bullshit like that. They use the words change and gentrification interchangeably. It’s always the beneficiaries of gentrification so quick to say it too. Apparently, gentrification is some unstoppable cosmic power. If you take their word for it anyway.
Whether it’s developers, property owners gouging long time businesses forcing them to close, gentrification apologists, your average closest racist, or other property gangsters who financially benefit from displacing Black, Brown, and other low income residents of all backgrounds, this is their favorite go-to mantra. And of course they would use it, no one has ever challenged their beloved mantra. Let it be known that the emperor has no clothes and the “change is inevitable“ gentrification mantra is meritless.
Gentrification agents like to declare this “inevitable force” right before they give a systemic racism reinforcing decision or appeal. “You can’t stop change” they say. It’s always delivered in pompous or patronizing spirit accompanied by a tone of disingenuous empathy. They wield it as though its Mjölnir (Thor’s hammer) or some other force of nature with the intention of giving the impression that it’s an unstoppable power. Drunk in their privileged reality they akin themselves to demigods. They are only godly enough to show us the mighty “change-is-inevitable hammer ” yet they are still only naïve mortals that have no control over it and have no choice but to yield to its mighty power, or so they act. Of course, they would never admit to this.
These gentrification proponents are “really sorry” though, if they could stop this implied inevitable force of nature they surely would. But they “can’t” so “regrettably” they are “forced to” make a shitty decision and go along with the path of destruction and displacement. But let’s keep it 100. These people are fully conscious of the heartless trend they are partaking in when they do invoke this gentrification mantra.
When I contemplate the true sense of “Change” I think of true poderios, true natural forces and processes. Change is: Birth and death, night and day, ebb and flow of the ocean tide, waters carving out rocks over thousands of years, volcanoes making islands, earthquakes making things fall and crumble.. THAT is inevitable change.
I will tell you what is not inevitable or unstoppable: when LAPD disproportionally targets and murders Black and Brown people; when low income and traditional Venetians of color are targeted with broken windows policies; when gang injunctions are implemented in neighborhoods that do not merit them; when that developer turns triple duplex affordable units to a single family dwelling and doesn’t replace them; when that neighborhood council member, city staff, or area planning director co-signs or facilitates the shenanigans of the latter, when the city council won’t enforce the Mello Act; when 3 unhoused citizens die on the streets everyday in Los Angeles; when generational families get displaced from the community they created, etc. As you know, the list goes on.
Those are not the result of inevitable forces. They are an accumulation of human decisions.
These people making these systemic racism enforcing decisions in our neighborhood have names, addresses, and businesses. They are not gods evoking unstoppable powers and inevitable realities. Like Leonidas’ spear that flies to cut Xerxes face so it is that these culprits high and low can get touched. Let us remember our power to affect change. So as we steer Venice away from gentrification culture and toward one of equity, justice, and accountability, as we restore balance to the Venice universe, and as the unrighteous newcomers whine as they move out, we shall remind them..
You Can’ Stop Change.