White people are always worried about the wrong things and it shows up both in what they choose to protest and how they choose to go about it.
White people are hilarious. I know they aren't trying to make me laugh,
It's important to discuss Philadelphia's issues with gentrification when you talk about policing, Starbucks, and racism.
By Asia RenéeI love Starbucks. I’ve easily spent $1,000 in the last 10 years on peppermint mocha lattes, cookies, muffins, and breakfast sandwiches. Its emblem—the green, two-tailed mermaid on a cup—is a status symbol. In non-white, low-income neighborhoods, the cup is a symbol that gentrification has arrived, and that people of color are in danger.Last Thursday, two Black men entered the Starbucks at 18th and Spruce in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood of Philadelphia for a coffee meeting as they waited for a friend to join them. Rittenhouse Square is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country and it is also approximately 70% white and 6% Black. The two men were waiting for their friend, real estate investor, Andrew Yaffe (who is white), when they were asked to leave because they hadn’t purchased anything. The store manager called the police who arrived and handcuffed the men. Local resident, Melissa DePino, recorded the arrest and posted the incident to Twitter; Yaffe can be heard asking why they were being forcefully removed.
Good question. It is common knowledge that Starbucks is a venue for small, informal meetings. It is also common knowledge that coffee meetings don’t always include coffee. In fact, Starbucks partnered with Match.com for a Valentine’s Day campaign in 2015 called, “Meet at Starbucks”, encouraging people to make the first move in dating by meeting at a public and safe venue. If only Starbucks were safe for everyone. The arrival of a Starbucks in non-white neighborhoods is often linked to gentrification and signals that businesses are now investing and attracting white residents. In a piece for The Guardian, writer Jana Kasperkevic investigates the relationship between higher real estate prices and the establishment of a neighborhood Starbucks, citing the authors of Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate, Spencer Rascoff and chief economist Stan Humphries, who write that Starbucks fuels gentrification and is responsible for higher housing prices.
Philadelphia is a large city of approximately 1.6 million people. It also has the highest poverty rate among the nation’s 10 most populous cities, as well as the highest percentage of residents living in deep poverty, according to the 2016 U.S. Census. In stark contrast, Philadelphia holds historically wealthy neighborhoods like Rittenhouse Square, as the rest of the city falls to gentrification, pushing low-income residents further away from Center City. As a lifelong resident, I began noticing the patterns of gentrification about 20 years ago. Over the next decade, I would spend a lot of time in Nicetown/Tioga, a section of North Philadelphia. Temple University, also located in North Philadelphia, has steadily spread its reach and boundaries over the last 20 years. Even back then, I watched as condemned or abandoned houses became renovated and listed for thousands of dollars per month. These old, 3-story, 4+ bedroom Victorian homes are priced so that Temple students end up paying $600 for a room in a shared apartment. University City, home to Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania, has also drastically grown in the last two decades.We now have wealthy, young white people, artists and/or families, living in what has historically been known as the “hood”. When we see the hipster coffee shops, we know what is coming next: Starbucks, Whole Foods, and heightened police activity to protect the new residents, their assets and their businesses. This is to the detriment of the neighborhood’s original locals. The schizophrenic woman who walks around a few select streets—bothering no one—at all, is now seen as a nuisance who needs to be removed, so they call the police. We know what happens when they call the cops: sex workers are arrested; people walking down the street, minding their own business are stopped and terrorized by police and sometimes killed for “fitting the description”.