Fun! An “Are You A Gentrifier?” Quiz

Some questions seem so complex. Like gentrification. If you move to one of the few neighborhoods you can afford and, in so doing, unintentionally contribute to the raising of rents in your area, are you a gentrifier? Or is gentrification not the effect of individuals but rather the byproduct of larger capitalist forces acting on us all?

The contrarians at Slate offer a simple solution in the form of a quiz:

No, you don’t need to love wine bars, dog parks, and bike lanes to be a gentrifier. (And anyone can love these things!) To the people who study gentrification, it’s more about where you live and how much you earn. Gentrifiers are people with medium or high incomes moving into low-income neighborhoods, attracting new business but raising rents, and often contributing to tensions between new and long-term residents. Sociologists coined the term, which alludes to the European gentry — and which has only become more loaded at a time of skyrocketing rents and profound demographic changes in American cities.

But are you a gentrifier? With the help of an urban policy expert, we devised a calculator that determines if you are based on your income and neighborhood.

With a gulp, I entered my information and checked out the results.

“Your neighborhood is too rich to be gentrified.” Now that’s what I like to hear!

I think I may have gotten off on a technicality. The quiz shouldn’t have asked me how much my household makes now; it should have asked how much we made when we first moved into the area. At that point, our income was higher and the average income was probably lower.

Three and a half years makes a big difference in the fate of a brownstone Brooklyn neighborhood. The people around me are richer than they were and the stores are correspondingly turning over to cater to the aristocrats. Gone are the old dry cleaners, locksmiths, hardware stores, wacky cute secondhand clothes boutiques, and purveyors of homemade hummus. Replacement stores offer up eco-friendly sustainable fish, upscale cupcakes, artisanal mayo, artisanal olive oil, artisanal donuts, kids’ clothes and toys, and high-end nail art. There was a “dessert speakeasy” too, but it closed. I think the mayo store closed too. Good effort, guys!

I’m not making any of this up.

It doesn’t matter, though. We bought the best apartment in the best neighborhood that we could afford, and if you had spit in my face and called me a gentrifier three times in a row for doing it, I probably still would have gone ahead. Now I guess I’ll spend the next hour pondering how bad I should feel about that.

If you want a second opinion on the question of whether you are a gentrifier, other sites have addressed the issue in recent years. Or if you simply want advice on how to be a good neighbor regardless, Alternet has got you covered.

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