There Goes the Neighborhood

Today I saw something that confirmed what I’ve been suspecting for a while… my neighborhood is changing.

I’ve been seeing the signs here and there, but bravely have tried to ignore them in hopes that perhaps I was wrong. You know how it is; just little things: A white woman walking her dog, a young Asian guy driving a late model Honda down the street, a Volvo parked inconspicuously in a driveway while the young, vaguely hippie looking homeowners enjoyed a drink on the front porch. All of these things were signs that I’ve been trying valiantly to ignore.

But what I saw today was something I could not ignore nor misinterpret, despite all my efforts. There he was in all his trendy splendor – a young white guy, casually dressed in the kind of clothes that look like they’re from Wal-Mart but you know are really from Banana Republic… sitting at the edge of his walkway, innocently, unobtrusively, and completely naturally – playing a guitar. There he sat, in front of an appropriately trendy Craftsman style home, barefoot, and playing his guitar in the calm of a late afternoon as if it were the most normal thing in the world.

My neighborhood is officially trendy.

White folks drinking wine on the front porch I could ignore; the White woman walking her dog was harder to rationalize, but still I made the effort. But this, this cannot be denied or explained away. It is only in trendy urban neighborhoods that White guys play guitars while sitting out in front of their houses I knew it was coming, but I didn’t expect it so quickly.

Before I know it, there will be coffee shops with bearded baristas and black rimmed glasses wearing Mac users. The ubiquitous loud young Black girls with too much saunter and not quite enough jeans to cover their shape will be replaced by svelte looking people who ::gasp:: jog!!

I’m not quite sure what to make of it all. There goes the neighborhood.

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6 thoughts on “There Goes the Neighborhood

  1. I wish my comment could have a picture of my bearded, thick-black-rimmed glasses self right next to it so the irony could be complete.

    I (often) wonder how many people in my neighborhood are saying the same thing about me. Because, of course, no white people ever would move to a neighborhood like this for any reason other than its trendiness.

    On the one hand I would love to self-deprecatingly laugh along with you, as I so often do. On the other hand I’d love to get rid of the comic pretense and recognize that there’s something serious being said here, and take up arms in defense of white people (even those who play guitars barefoot in the street) having other motivations than just trendiness for moving somewhere. However, I think my frustration would be more in response to the many people in my neighborhood who I’m sure think that’s why I live here, and less in response to your views of your own neighborhood.

    Oh well. This was a good laugh, at least.

  2. Matt you are free to bring your bearded black rimmed glasses self around anytime. I appreciate your visit to my humble site and your comments on this tongue in cheek entry. It is an irony in a way that educated people (white or otherwise) who live by choice or by necessity in urban neighborhoods tend to, whether they want to or not, lend a certain air of trendiness to the neighborhood even if they have absolutely no intention of doing so, or are in fact in place because of stronger convictions about living and serving amongst the least of these.

  3. Elderj,
    Recognizing that there are unintentional and often unstoppable consequences of being an educated person in an urban neighborhood is, I think, something that’s missing from a lot of the motivational talks people are getting toward moving into urban neighborhoods. Berry and I have talked a lot recently about what God’s call is on people’s lives to participate in urban ministry and how not everyone is called to live in the city.

    That having been said, and your tongue-in-cheek humor having been acknowledged as hilarious and poignant, thanks for the welcome, and I’m happy to know that I’d be welcome in your neighborhood, glasses, Mac, bare feet and all. And I think I’d love to talk some time about gentrification, ethnic diversity, and the role of the educated Christian who feels called to the city (otherwise known as “God’s heart for the city 101: how to fight gentrification without contributing to it”).

    🙂 Again, thanks for a good post, and I appreciate the humorous way of approaching the situation.
    -matt

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