Garfield Senior High School

Gentrify or splendify

As a child raised in the eastern part of Los Angeles, gentrification has played a large role in my life. Everywhere I dine, everywhere I visit, everywhere I stay, gentrification is visible in nearly every aspect of my life. Whenever I decide to visit my local McDonalds, that is gentrification. Whenever I go to Target, that is gentrification. Whenever I go to school, I am being gentrified.

However, I do not feel attacked by gentrification, it is part of me, and I am part of it. I was raised in this neighborhood where gentrification is natural. I am glad that I can grab a bite to eat without having to walk a mile. Others, however, seem to have a different opinion about this situation. In fact, many say that gentrification ruined their neighborhoods, killed the cultures around them, and messed with their history.

All around me, I hear many adults – most of Mexican and Latino lineage – speak about rent prices going up. They also talk about how they hate the fact that ‘white people’ are coming into the neighborhood and ruining what was once there. They protest against such changes, but ultimately money is in power, and large chain stores and fast-food restaurants open all the time. To me, the opening of such places like a local Starbucks or McDonalds is a splendid thing. It makes my life easier, and welcomes other very convenient places like Target, Walmart, and even clinics. The establishment of these locations in our neighborhood are thanks to gentrification. Yes, house prices may rise. Yes, the places are headed by people of a different ethnicity. And yes, I am indeed for gentrification. If something helps a community, the so-called race of the manager or origin of the company that owns the stores shouldn’t matter.

It’s better to live in a community that carries simple and abundant necessities than to live in one that stays forgotten. The more I tend to observe the situation, the more I realize that the main issue that people have with gentrification is the ‘loss of a culture’. From my area, the Latino community is incredibly proud of their Mexican heritages, and would do anything to keep it. They don’t mind being inconvenienced if it means that they get to keep their history. But they don’t want to succumb to the new changes. Personally however, I see more benefits in simply accepting the changes that occur around us.

As someone who was born and raised in the United States, living with the beliefs of the other ‘American’ children, I am not too attached to my ‘Mexican roots’. To me, culture and history should not be a priority. It is. however, something that I have found to be pretty common among the first-generation community here in East L.A. And bost people in my same situation also seem to agree, but there is a significant minority of those who still strongly believe in their history. It’s a dying belief, but one that still stands strong among those who do believe. I may not be able to connect with this belief, but I can understand why some people dislike the fact that others are ‘invading’ their territory, and it’s something that I always have to consider before voicing my opinion about the situation. Regardless, gentrification is a process that we cannot evade, and thus have to accept as it comes our way.