Abstract: “Gentrify? No! Gentefy? Sí!” (Farrell and Medina) is the slogan employed by middle-class Latino bar and start-up owners in Boyle Heights, a predominantly Latino, low-income, and working-class neighborhood in East Los Angeles that “[t]ries to [c]hange, but [a]void the [p]itfalls” (Medina) of gentrification. Alluding to the Spanish word la gente (the people), middle-class Latinos aim to improve the neighborhood from within the community in order to maintain the area’s Latino character and to avoid the displacement, exclusion, and sociospatial polarization typical of gentrification. Analyzing the potential and limitations of gentefication within the framework of neoliberal urbanization, the paper argues that the notion of gentefication marks a deeply ambivalent, contradictory interrelation of bottom-up momentum for neighborhood improvement and top-down real estate development. As upwardly mobile Latinos assert their desire to remain in the urban core, lower-income Latinos are displaced and class frictions within the ethnic community increase. Moreover, the residents’ momentum to positively reconfigure ethnic neighborhoods is often appropriated by redevelopment coalitions that try to render the area attractive for desired consumers via reference to its exotic character. Ethnicity is opened up for consumption as well as urban boosterism, and low-income residents face displacement due to the influx of affluent residents and consumers.
Gentrify? No! Gentefy? Sí!” (Farrell and Medina) is the slogan employed by Latino bar and start-up owners in Boyle Heights, a predominantly Latino, low-income, and working-class neighborhood in East Los Angeles that “[t]ries to [c]hange, but [a]void the [p]itfalls” (Medina) of gentrification—displacement and exclusion. In the recent past, Boyle Heights, associated with poverty, gang violence, and failing public schools, has seen a return of “more well-to-do and younger Mexican-Americans” (Medina), who often have roots in the neighborhood, and it has seen the opening of bars, coffee shops, and art initiatives. What sounds like the initial phase of gentrification, the pocketed reinvestment of capital into deteriorated inner-city neighborhoods that leads to the displacement of lower-income residents by more affluent populations (Lees, Slater, and Wyly, Gentrification 10), is called gentefication by some of the Latino entrepreneurs. Alluding to the area’s cultural heritage and the word la gente (the people), the idea is to improve conditions in the neighborhood from within while maintaining the area’s Latino character and avoiding displacement—“upwardly mobile Latinos, typically second-generation and beyond, [are] investing in and returning to the old neighborhood” (Berestein Rojas).Read all of this Article in aspeers's Free Full Text Mode