The Tennessean reports on the evils of “gentrification.”

By Bill Hobbs

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Bill Hobbs

Today’s Nashville newspaper has a big story with the following headline: “Black share of population plummets in some Nashville neighborhoods.” The story then goes on the detail what it clearly considers the evils of “gentrification,” which it defines as white people moving into neighborhoods that used to be mostly black, a trend it warns “upended the social and cultural landscape” of those neighborhoods. Those awful white people, according to the newspaper, brought “tiny fluffy white dogs” and “rode bikes” instead of cars.

The first victim in the story is an African American woman the newspaper tries to portray as having been “pressured” and pushed out of the neighborhood by those white people with their tiny white dogs.

Her story: She bought a house in Edgehill in 1992 for $48,000. She lived in it for a quarter century. Then, her health becoming an issue and construction all around, she sold that house for $640,000 to a developer who tore it down to build a new, larger house. With her equity and $592,000 profit she has been able to help her family and church.

She wasn’t a victim, of course. She was a beneficiary. She made a $592,000 profit. How good is that?
If she’d put that $48,000 in some sort of financial investment in 1992 and never added another cent and that investment had earned 10 percent a year over 25 years, compounded daily, it would have grown to $584,559, or about $55,000 less than it did invested in real estate. (And she would still have had to spend other money on a place to live for 25 years.)

She’s not a victim. She’s a winner. And she didn’t have to sell and leave Edgehill – she chose to.
The whole newspaper story is laughable.

There was a time when liberal newspapers like The Tennessean stood against those who wanted to keep neighborhoods segregated by race by keeping people of a certain skin color out of those neighborhoods. Now, though, when the skin colors are reversed, the newspaper portrays the increasing racial diversity of a neighborhood as a bad thing. In it’s eyes, gentrification is bad and the white people are the perps and the minorities are the victims.

Gentrification isn’t evil. Gentrification isn’t racial. Gentrification is when people who own property in a run-down neighborhood either fix it up, or sell it to someone who fixes it up. That’s it. If Hispanic and other minority buyers purchase property in a run-down majority-white neighborhood and proceed to renovate the properties, that, too, is gentrification. But instead of casting it as a bad thing, the newspaper would be celebrating it. You don’t think so? Consider all the stories the paper has done in recent years about the resurgence of Nashville’s Antioch area and how, along the way, it is becoming a much more “diverse” area. The paper doesn’t write about how “gentrification” is destroying “the social and cultural landscape” of Antioch. It writes about how “diversity” is reviving Antioch. Well, the neighborhoods in today’s articles are becoming more diverse, too. Nobody lives in a neighborhood forever because – it turns out – nobody lives forever. Ask anyone today buying a house if when it came time to sell it in 25 years or so would they be happy if they got a 1,333 percent return on their investment.

Re-posted from a pubic Facebook post by Bill Hobbs. Bill Hobbs is a  fine art photographer and photojournalist living in Nashville. Bill spent years as a political activist. 

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