gentrification and intergroup tensions

colist at colist at
Fri Jun 20 17:46:13 CDT 2003

[ed: this is an important film--a bit from me below.]

 From: Miriam Axel-Lute <miriam at>

Gentrification... With a Twist

It's a familiar story, at least on the surface: A neighborhood in 
decline is "discovered" by people with money, who snap up 
beautiful but run-down houses for a song, driving up prices and 
displacing longtime residents of lesser means. But what happens 
when the residents are working-class African-Americans - and the 
gentrifiers are themselves an oppressed minority - for instance, the 
gay community?  

"Flag Wars," is a documentary by Linda Goode Bryant and Laura 
Poitras that attempts to explore these tensions in the Olde Towne 
section of Columbus, OH. In June PBS will broadcast the film as 
part of the P.O.V. Diverse Voices Project (check your local listings 
or, but it has already elicited a strong reaction in 
Columbus, where "Flag Wars" had its premiere in March. Some 
residents feel their neighbors and neighborhood were maligned.  

Weeks before the film aired, P.O.V invited Shelterforce Editor 
Harold Simon to moderate an online discussion about gentrification 
and intergroup tension in general, "Beyond Gentrification: 
Strategies for Community Change." You can read excerpts at 
Shelterforce Online ( or 
view the full discussion (and post your own comments) at  

Participants in the roundtable were: Mtamanika Youngblood, senior 
vice president for community impact at United Way of Metro-
politan Atlanta and former executive director of the Historic District 
Development Corp. in Atlanta; Radhika Fox, associate, PolicyLink, 
Washington, DC; Brad Lander, executive director, Fifth Avenue 
Committee, Brooklyn, NY; Theresa Singleton, research and 
information director, Housing Assistance Council, Washington, DC; 
Joe Molinaro, manager, Smart Growth Programs of the National 
Association of Realtors., Washington, DC; Jill Slater, planner, San 
Francisco Planning Department.  


[ed:  this film was on our local PBS station this past Tuesday.  To 
me, it is a horribly depressing example of the invisibility of class 
privilege and how it deepens the divide between groups when 
combined with other kinds of oppressions.  The gay community in 
particular, with its advantaged class position, does not look good in 
this film.  Sadly, however, I can imagine my students attributing 
their lack of sensitivity to being gay rather than being middle class.  
I hope others get a chance to view the film and we all get a chance 
to discuss it.]

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