This new series I will be producing on Latino Rebels will involve interviews with artists, activists, politicians and everyday New Yorkers on the subject of gentrification, with a call towards understanding its functions on a city, state, national and international perspective. Gentrification has affected the colored and the poor internationally, too—most notably in the protests of China’s slums around the Olympics and Brazil’s favelas during the World Cup. It has also affected the same population in various U.S. cities, such as San Francisco, Chicago and Minneapolis, among others.
One thing is clear: Gentrification is not an ends, but a means. As a collective (the poor, the tired, the colored) are in the process of what bears eerie parallels to colonization, yet we are not sure to what end or conclusion. All the while figuring out gentrification, our neighborhoods are changing drastically and daily.
Even today, 5Pointz —after having been literally whitewashed, symbolically culturally erased— is now being physically demolished. If the physical site doesn’t exist, then it makes it harder for a continuation of a people (true, non-capitalistic, non-bourgeois artists) to gather and keep the tradition. This is a point of knowledge used in acts of genocide and other structures which move bodies. When the physical site doesn’t exist, it is the people who carry the message. Carrying this message and being a messenger, this gift, this art, is the one thing government misidentifies as “dangerous.” So we are talking not about the criminalization and arrest of a performance and performer, but the spirit and the spirit of New York City.