Last week I read a story that had me shaking my head in amazement. In East LA a non-Hispanic small business opened up in the traditional Latino section of the city that had some in the community protesting its existence. If you are wondering what type of business had the audacity of opening in the neighborhood was it another tattoo shop, smoke shop, check-cashing place or a Rent-a-Center? No a hipster coffee shop named Weird Wave Coffee.
The cry of anti-gentrification was the root of this protest; interestingly these same streets represent the sites of legendary anti-Vietnam protests where held, approximately 50 years ago. So what is gentrification? Gentrification – I know this word never came up in a spelling test for me, otherwise I would have spelled it incorrectly; is a process of renovation of a deteriorated urban neighborhood by the influx of more affluent residents.
The negativity associated with gentrification is the displacement of lower-income families, and some argue new businesses, usually representing the corporate sector impact the uniqueness and charm of the targeted neighborhoods. As far as disruption of the uniqueness of the neighborhood; I would sympathize with any disapproval sentiments if a traditional business was being displaced in LA’s Chinatown or Olvera Street by the corporate neon signage of a Starbucks, 7-11, Taco Bell or Panda Express.
In this scenario, Weird Wave Coffee owners opted to invest opening a small business, not in a typical affluent location, but in this case El Barrio. Instead of being applauded by the entire community; some have taken an active stance of voicing their displeasure. What’s hypocritical of this reasoning is rather than protesting in front of the nearby corporate franchises of Subway and/or Starbucks they targeted a coffee shop. I guess some of the Homies don’t care for Hipsters.