Thursday, 28 October 2010

There Goes The Neighbourhood…

Philip Dayle (human rights lawyer) bemoans the ‘gentrification’ of Brixton:
I have always felt that Brixton, London is the centre of the world for people of colour.
Huh?!?
A collage of ethnicities form on Brixton's high street in the middle of any given day. As a newly-minted immigrant from Jamaica, it was here that I first saw a woman in a hijab driving a doubledecker bus.
Oh, glorious diversity!
Brixton bears the weight of a chequered history – notoriously, for race-related riots in the 1980s. The names of streets – Coldharbour Lane, Electric Avenue, Acre Lane, to name a few – carry an edginess that captures the stories of generations of Brixtonians.
I think he's only got one type of 'Brixtonian' in mind...
The themes have remained consistent through the years: from Coldharbour Lane describing basic accommodation offered to rough travellers in the 1800s; to Electric Avenue conveying the excitement of being the first street to be lit by electricity in London. This is an area that is defined by progressive change alongside material deprivation.
Well, change is good, right?

No?
Predominantly white and middle-class, the newest residents are the face of a resurgent Brixton, who are mostly taking advantage of the area's proximity to the city.
The swines! How dare they!
The pattern of homeownership has changed dramatically – in favour of the more affluent.
He says that like it’s a bad thing. Also, like there’s no such thing as an affluent black person.

Which coming from a wealthy human rights shyster, is something of a bizarre statement…
Comparisons with New York City's Harlem are, therefore, appropriate. Both Harlem and Brixton are alike for their large black populations and historical significance. They both have seen periods as a sought-after cultural centre, as well as decades of social and economic decline. The decision by President Clinton to make Harlem the home for his post-presidency office and foundation, and the attendant rise in property values in the area – pricing out many of the neighbourhood's longstanding African American residents – has become emblematic of the gentrification debate.
Wait, is it Brixton or Harlem that's emblematic? I'm confused now.
Does it matter when increased commercial activity leads to radical changes in the ethnic and cultural makeup of communities?
Well, the right were told to ‘shut the hell up, racists!’ whenever they questioned the increased immigration figures (according to Labour, necessary ‘for business and prosperity’) that resulted in wholesale demographic and cultural changes to our towns and cities, so I think the answer must be the same when the boot’s on the other foot, right Philip?
It would be ironic if Brixton's recognition as an iconic black space in Britain comes just at the point when there is a mass exodus of its black residents.
So we’d rather it was a violent s***hole rather than a safe, engaging place to live? Would that somehow ‘reflect its status as iconic black space’ any better, I wonder?

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like 'black flight' to me. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I'm so confused these days.

Reverse Dutch Steamboat said...

Brixton is a dangerous, violent slum.

Some people are brave enough to live near there but I would never risk the wellbeing of my good lady. That's why we live where we do, in a relatively safe suburb.

Brixton is a dangerous, violent, hideous slum precisely because of its 'rich diversity'.

HeadsonPoles said...

Brixton and similar crap holes should be nuked - no question.
As for driving a bus with a hijab - how the hell did she see where she was going?
sod that, I'm walking from now on.

Anonymous said...

If Brixton is such a violent shithole why are affluent white folks buying up all the houses?

Quiet_Man said...

Change is a constant of society, areas rise and fall as the money and affluence of people change, very few areas outside the city/town centres remain stable. People make money, the better areas are taken, they look to the periphery and so goes gentrification.
Philip Dayle having a Canute moment in full view of the public.

Lady Virginia Droit de Seigneur said...

If he wants to live in a nasty predominantly black area he can always move to Tottenham - its squalor is unsullied by the white middle classes.

Moaning Minnie said...

Another great example of no matter what happens, someone will find a way to complain.

Reverse Dutch Steamboat said...

Anonymous said...
buying up houses &c.


Would you prefer this in capital letters? Yeah, why not?

SOME PEOPLE ARE BRAVE ENOUGH TO LIVE NEAR THERE and so on.

I freely admit that I am not.

Trooper Thompson said...

Brixton ain't that bad, and whatever 'gentrification' is taking place, it's nothing new. This argument should be filed alongside complaints about the commercialisation of Christmas. As for Tottenham, I think Lady Virginia's got a point.

JuliaM said...

"Sounds like 'black flight' to me. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?"

Seems to be like most things these days - bad if we do it, and if it's not us doing it, well then, we forced the others to do it!

"As for driving a bus with a hijab - how the hell did she see where she was going?"

I've seen someone taking a driving lesson in a full burkha. She was in a bus lane out of allowed hours at the time!

"Change is a constant of society..."

Indeed, it's always happened. The East End is a case in point. All that's changed today is the pace of such change..

"...he can always move to Tottenham - its squalor is unsullied by the white middle classes."

Is Tottenham that bad? I've not been there in a good few years.

"Another great example of no matter what happens, someone will find a way to complain."

And they'll always find a willing audience in the 'Guardian'!

" This argument should be filed alongside complaints about the commercialisation of Christmas."

Which are, no doubt, heading our way soon!

blueknight said...

Just that a couple of friends and I wanted to go to Brixton Academy to see Deep Purple. Beforehand we rang the local Old Bill to find the safest place to park a car.
There was a long pause then the reply came back, - Guildford

JuliaM said...

"There was a long pause then the reply came back, - Guildford"

Heh!

Lady Virginia Droit de Signeur said...

Julia

I live quite close to Brixton and while there are some things about the area I don't like I also think it has many plus points. (the Academy for one) that make it an interesting place.

Tottenham on the other hand is vile - a genuine shithole.

David Gillies said...

I lived in Coldharbour Lane twenty years ago. Went to Uni every day from Loughborough Junction. Staggered home via Brixton Tube in the evening. Shopped at Tesco in Acre Lane. No-one ever laid a hand on me. This condescending twat hasn't got an earthly.