I live among some of the worst kinds of gentrifiers, the ones I call dingies. Worse than shiny newly minted hipsters, these don’t quite believe their own bullshit, but they believe in it and see themselves as shiny against what they’ve come from, and indeed still are. You can take the clearly average would be basics save for a little financial come up out of their average, but they will still remain average basics at the core.
These dingies are smug liberals, a term with which they identify only because it represents evidence of a more progressive position than the homogeneous mixed class enclaves which they believe they have bettered in their come up.
They walk a lot, carry reusable shopping bags, retrieve their dog’s shit in public issued plastic bags wrapped around the hand that is not holding their coffee and pastry from the local bakery. They are eco-aware and nothing says it more than these behaviors (well except the plastic poop baggies).
They drive sensible older model cars–evidence (which they will rarely admit) that they aren’t a full generation into their perceived come up. They shop Craigslist and especially love farmer’s markets and food trucks. Right? That’s hip now right?
Close enough to a lower class to share the single grocery store that employs that class but prices them out of affording the groceries they hawk, these dingies walk past the hot fried chicken, fish on Fridays, fried bologna and grits in the morning and call this mix of “cultures” “diversity” or better, “community.” They know the employees and call them by name. The families and friends of the employees who they do not know? Well they are like the sidewalk dingies pester city council to repair. Eyesores maybe. Especially, though, part of the landscape. A bit of character for their gentrifying adventure. But not real humans.
So look, even if you could buy and sell them, since they don’t know you from the one place they daily confront people who look like you with their wine, rice, and cilantro at the register, you are dismissed if you’re lucky. If you’re noticed it is with the disappointment that their come up has not been far enough up to escape the likes of your kind. Their liberal rubs off on the doorknobs they release to ensure the door will slam in your face; require you to prove your right to be in the same building with a swipe of your key fob.
Dingies do not remember a time when the blocks of flipped houses they admire and aspire to were inhabited by these characters who look more like you than them and will not be accused of pricing the former residents out of generations of ownership.
But dingies are concerned about the community–especially its elementary school, and they vote school board leadership that shares their concerns about playground renovations and new water fountain filters. Then they bus to magnet schools their children once they reach middle school age. Because again their come up is not as expansive as they imagine or wish–private school is out of the budget. They hold onto their liberal label by claiming their busing choice is really choosing “diversity of population and resources” for their children.
While dingies fight for green space they simultaneously invite congestion in the guise of economic development. Multi-use lofts: Yes! Stadium: Yes! This “development” will put them on the cusp of their next come up they believe because they believe their proximity makes them the same as the shiny minted hipsters in their flipped houses and condos. So in bondi bands and capri tights, Toms and narrow fit Levis they march from their rented lofts into meetings for the good of us all. Come home to their building–their come up has not earned them a flipped house or condo but proximity makes them smug–and give their brown neighbor a once over playing the not-so-secret game of which one doesn’t belong.