Posted in Culture by akacocolopez on July 9, 2008

Two great articles in this issue of the NYPress:


Armond White examines the similarities in the post-racial strategies of Will Smith  and Barack Obama.

It matters that Smith and Obama—the most popular Anglo surname and an immediately, recognizably exotic surname—both are seen as inoffensive and associated with non-threatening ideology. It is the basis of the public confidence each man seeks. Smith’s distance from gangster rap (remember the disses he received as the first Grammy-winning—i.e. “safe”—rap artist?) parallels Obama’s distance from radical, upstart black nationalism, liberation theology and prophetic Christianity.


Kristen Bonardi Rapp experiences racism as a gentrifier in her neighborhood.

Choosing Washington Heights had been easy: It was affordable, and it was in Manhattan. What else did I need to know? As I packed up my old apartment in Boston, I read Washington Heights’ Wikipedia page as if it were scripture. I learned the neighborhood had been a refuge for European Jews in the 1930s and ’40s, who were then displaced by Greeks in the 1960s. By thata time, Washington Heights had become “the Astoria of Manhattan.” In the 1970s, the Greeks, in turn, were displaced by Dominicans, and now Washington Heights has the largest Dominican population outside the Dominican Republic.

Her article reminds me of the reason in which although I love “In the Heights” the musical, I also hate it for the romantic view of Washington Heights it gives to probable ‘gentrifiers’. What makes these people different from the eras of for displacement is that the people moving in are no longer working class people, (not to mention all the other changes they bring to the neighborhood).


4 Responses

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  1. CM'Blog said, on July 9, 2008 at 3:15 pm

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  2. Kristen said, on July 10, 2008 at 2:14 am

    Okay, since you brought it up, I moved to Washington Heights (a year before ‘In The Heights’ came out) because it was one of the few places where I could afford to live with my family.

    I’m not some young hipster gentrifier counting the days until D’Agostino’s moves up here. I’m a 33-year-old with a kid and husband who’re already wondering what’s going to happen when they can’t afford this neighborhood any more.

  3. Blayze said, on July 11, 2008 at 7:35 am

    The funny thing about “In the Heights” is that it’s a complete slap in the face to potential hipster gentrifiers, considering all the local businesses seen in the show are displaced or closed due to unwanted gentrification. Usnavi too takes a few potshots at ‘hipsters’ in one of his final raps.

    It’s really a shame because it’s such a unique place, especially for Manhattan. Once it’s gone, it’ll be another Williamsburg.

  4. akacocolopez said, on July 12, 2008 at 12:24 am

    I would have to disagree rather than being a complete slap, the musical is more like a tap on the wrist. For me to love the musical totally 100% I needed more of a stance on the subject. However, on the other side, I doubt it would have received as much success as its had if Manuel made the story more “real”. The solution for all of us cannot be just moving or winning the lotto.

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