I want to first establish that my college dorm was my first bedroom, and that mattress my first ever bed. It was exciting to have a space that was private — although I did have a roommate, who, racist enough, played the racist Mexican South Park episode in front of my parents on final move-out day — a place to call my own. Up until my matriculation to Macalester, I had slept on the couch of our 2-bedroom, 1 bath, 1 kitchen, and that was it save an awkward leftover-of-a-square room we called “The Little Room”.
I came to NYC with a little over $1K in my pocket — a very modest amount, I admit — and no established room and board. The first two days I stayed with some professor at my university who was warm enough to open her doors to me for a couple of nights. I heard from a friend of mine that a room was open for rent in Queens; it was $450/month, but only because it was in the basement. I remember walking in and it smelt like Acuna — my father city, which used to be extremely rural up until recent industrialization — and I actually welcomed the scent. It smells like stale water over concrete; the cold breathe of mildew of basement — really, there’s no other smell like basement. The front door of the refrigerator was won over by a colony of black fungus. Even after scrubbing with bleach for hours, the black dye stuck to the white door. On the inside was an army of fruit flies, dead and piled in the egg carton rack, the plastic shelves lined with their wings and bodies stuck motionless on some mysterious brown molasses. There is no full, actual stove but a two-coil plug-in camping stove; one of the coils doesn’t work, but it’s enough for me to boil enough noodles for the week.
Is reclamation as objective as the oppression which ties it? Most certainly, perpetuating all that violence only disrupts the collective consciousness into a disequilibrium; re-colonizing in order to accomplish the paradigm shift would only perpetuate the performance of white patriarchy, and so people collectively will not attain peace together. However, I am thus forced to ask: mathematically and in terms of human population, how are racially white bodies occupying the majority of positions of power?
Even internationally, power requires a bend toward whiteness and white ideals of beauty. Whiteness operates in sync with wealth, because money is the very system used to perpetuate these hierarchies. Though, it appears that class is becoming the normalized divide, not dissimilar to the normalization of racial segregation before Civil Rights. There are pockets of random upscale apartments just gentrifying Bed-Stuy’s streets — like alien pods descended from the privileged above, Elysium, if you will — none of their residents interacting with the rest of the neighborhood — isolated, open-windowed so you can see their natural Fir’s and chandelier matched to Christmas Lights. You can tell who is from the neighborhood and who is merely gentrifying. They usually take the form of hipsters.
The hipsters usually grab their bag around a colored brother; and I’m not talking about the white Hassidic Jews either. Because gentrification occurred along with the Hipster Influx, I am understanding “hipsters” more as a blind economic force — who are racially unconscious and unaware of how their wealth affects NY neighborhoods that have been typically more racially and economically diverse; that the influx of new peoples to New York have usually benefited by integrating into the neighborhoods, whereas the socioeconomic phenomenon of Hipsterdome has remained largely exclusive and centers on issues of white suburbia — thus removing Bed-Stuy, Brookly, and New York in general from its typically socially, culturally, and politically vocal, aware, and progressive artistic movements.