NBC’s ‘The Carmichael Show’: Gentrification ‘Sounds Good To Me’

It turns out a TV show actually exists out there that presents topics near-and-dear to the heart of radical leftists --and yet!-- does it in a humorous way that leaves you not feeling nauseous.

On Sunday night’s episode of The Carmichael Show, titled ‘Gentrifying Bobby,’ gentrification was the main course, with sides of guilt, class envy, and victimization.

Jerrod’s brother, Bobby (LilRel Howery), and his girlfriend Niekesha (Tiffany Haddish) find themselves booted from their apartment for failing to pay rent, which had raised significantly because of a new Whole Foods store around the corner.

Which sparked this exchange:

Maxine: You know, there's a term for what's going on with Nekeisha.

Jerrod: Poverty? Or a bad attitude? You know, she's kind of like if a TSA agent and a postal worker had a baby.

Maxine: No, no. You know, it's no coincidence that a Whole Foods moved in and Nekeisha is getting pushed out. It's called gentrification, and she's a victim.

Jerrod: She's a victim? She's unbuttoning her pants in our bed right now. I think we're the victims.

Cynthia: Gentrification. I've heard Spike Lee say that word on CNN every 25 minutes.

Joe: Yeah, that's one of those long words I was told to be afraid of. Gentrification, hypertension, refinance... I know I'm missing a word, but y'all get the point.

Jerrod: Well, Dad, let me explain what gentrification is. You see, gentrification is a beautiful thing where...

Joe: Mesothelioma! I knew I was missing a word. Carry on.

Jerrod: Well, gentrification is essentially when developers look at a neighborhood the way Richard Gere looked at Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. You know, you see past all the flaws of the past. You see a perfect spot for a Starbucks or an Ethiopian restaurant run by non-Ethiopians.

Cynthia: So you're saying gentrification is like when rich people say to a neighborhood, "I can change you." And the neighborhood is like, "Good, because I want to leave this dirty prostitution life behind." And-and the rich people are like, "Well, I'm gonna give you a bunch of money." Go clean yourself up so you don't embarrass me in front of my classy friends."

Jerrod: Yes, yes. That's exactly what it is, Ma. It's when really nice rich people give a bad neighborhood a new beginning.

Maxine: That is such a glorified view of gentrification.

Cynthia: Well, what is it, then? And can you use a movie example?

Maxine: Well, I don't have a movie example, but I can just tell you what it means, if that works.

Joe: Well, I suppose, but just know I'm gonna be thinking of a movie example the whole time.

Maxine: Look, gentrification is when developers see an opportunity to make money off of a low-income community. You know, they buy up a bunch of property for cheap, and then they build high-end apartment complexes and restaurants and stores, and that attracts wealthy new residents, and then that drives property values up until people are forced out.

Joe: Now, I know you're trying to say something negative, but everything you saying so far sounds good to me.

Sounds good to me too. It probably also sounded good to the hundreds of people who now have a chance to get jobs working at all the “fancy” shops, stores, and restaurants that all the rich people will open up. Which of course means that the low-income community will “make money off” the rich people as well.

As for the claim that original residents are forced out of their communities by gentrification? According to that bastion of right-wing economics and corporate imperialism known as The Economist:

“Yet there is little evidence that gentrification is responsible for displacing the poor or minorities. Black people were moving out of Washington in the 1980s, long before most parts of the city began gentrifying. In cities like Detroit, where gentrifiers are few and far between and housing costs almost nothing, they are still leaving. One 2008 study of census data found “no evidence of displacement of low-income non-white households in gentrifying neighborhoods”. They did find, however, that the average income of black people with high- school diplomas in gentrifying areas soared.

Gentrifiers can make life better for locals in plenty of ways, argues Stuart Butler of the Brookings Institution, a think-tank. When professionals move to an area, “they know how to get things done”. They put pressure on schools, the police and the city to improve. As property prices increase, rents go up—but that also generates more property-tax revenue, helping to improve local services. In many cities, zoning laws force developers to build subsidized housing for the poor as well as pricey pads for well-off newcomers, which means that rising house prices can help to create more subsidized housing, not less.”

So, as it turns out, the left’s dream of creating a liberal utopia of America’s inner-cities by condensing low-income, racially monolithic communities into crime-ridden neighborhoods with failing schools, was actually not the way to go.


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