Garfield Senior High School

A teenager’s thoughts on Gentrification

There has been much conflict surrounding gentrification and its impact on society.

There are those who claim it is good due to its literal definition. Then there are those who say it rids the site being gentrified of its traditional culture. I am conflicted on the situation. I am a Hispanic teenager who has always been told to work hard for what I want. But do I really have to give up a part of myself in pursuing the American Dream?

My parents have worked hard their whole lives to provide for their family. Ever since I was a child I knew I had to help them any way possible. So far, I have helped them at home, at work, and at school by pursuing a higher education. My parents agree with the path I have chosen in life and support my path in any way they can. About 36% of U.S. adults say their family has achieved the American Dream, while another 46% say they are “on their way” to achieving it, according to a survey in August by the Pew Research Center.

I identify as being “on my way” but what about the other 18%? I hear the American Dream is fading, but is it really? Gentrification seems to say otherwise. With the progress we make, the better off we are. The addition of places like Walmart, Target, Panda Express, Starbucks, and so on is an addition of convenience for the people who live in the area. In areas that have been gentrified, the crime rates have fallen. Is this not a good thing? So much in my mind says gentrification is great and proves that my effort will pay off.

But, there is another thought in my mind. My city, Los Angeles, has always been a melting pot. There are people from all parts of the world residing together in one space. This diversity in culture is what makes Los Angeles and the rest of Southern California so special. I have always enjoyed learning about others’ stories and their passions. I would hate for something to take that away.

It is this experience which gentrification threatens to take away.  As prices of homes and rents rise, the harder it gets to live in that area. It creates the perfect opportunity for outsiders with more money to move in, overall creating a displacement of the residents and replacing them with other people. Inherently I see no problem with this, but I can see the issue people have with it. Street art, mom and pop shops, and neighborhood culture may be affected by the effects of gentrification. An overwhelmingly large amount of people across America would love to move to LA, and I have been fortunate enough to still be here. I have lived in LA my whole life and I can’t imagine having to move away.

I don’t know where I stand on the situation. Part of me thinks gentrification is great, yet the other part of me sees the negative aspects. As a teenager who will be going off to college outside of my city, it is a frightening thought to think that when I return things can be so different. I have not figured the whole situation out. But I keep asking myself: do I really have to give up a part of myself and my home in pursuit of the American Dream?