In the years following Lance Freeman’s seminal study, There Goes the ‘Hood: Views of Gentrification from the Ground Up (2006), the literature about how Black residents experience gentrification and its impacts on education, agency, and life has grown only slightly, and tends to explore gentrification as a class-based phenomenon. Yet, in America, race is inextricably linked to economics and geographical space. Therefore any discussion of urban blight and economic redevelopment must necessarily locate race as its nucleus to connect the vestiges of systemic racism to contemporary issues of social transformation. Using Critical Race Theory as a construct, this dissertation attempts to demonstrate the interconnectedness of racism and capitalism to extend the academic and practical discussions of gentrification.
This ethnographically inspired study begins with a historical analysis of Olde Towne East (OTE), a gentrifying community in Columbus, Ohio and then moves to a contemporary analysis of relevant data to demonstrate the vast disparities across myriad measures between the neighborhood’s Black and White residents. The crux of the dissertation features interviews with Black residents (N=17) who shared their stories about life in OTE and reflected upon the dynamics they perceive and ascribe to be associated with the transformation of their community.
Using grounded theory to analyze the values, attitudes, and beliefs contained in participant reflections, findings indicate that Black folks in this study are keenly aware of the systemic forces, including institutionalized racism, that have resulted in the gentrifying of their community. In addition to the systemic factors these participants ascribe to be associated with the transformation of OTE, they also contend that a lack of Black critical consciousness exacerbated the racially inequitable outcomes associated with gentrification.