Boyle Heights, a community worth fighting for

By Natalia Angeles

Gentrification has been a threat to communities of low income and people of color. 

With shifts occurring all throughout Los Angeles, there is an impactful change in communities of color. 

Bell Hooks, an author and social activist was right when she said, “Think about the colonizing role that wealthy white gay men have played in communities of color; they’re often the first group to gentrify poor and working-class neighborhoods.” 

She is right simply due to the fact that class and race have a lot to do with the displacement of people of color in Los Angeles. 

The perfect example of gentrification taking place is in our neighboring community, Boyle Heights. 

Boyle Heights has always been predominantly a home to people of color. 

In recent years, this has changed. When walking down East 3rd Street, you can’t help but notice that the local funnel cake store has been removed and replaced with Mugs Coffee Roasters. 

When a community of wealthy and predominately white people hold their power over people of color, this is the result.

 The sad part about gentrification is that it has already taken so many communities out of their homes. 

The placement of trendy coffee shops, clothing brands, or even restaurants like the Brooklyn Avenue on Cesar Chavez were all homes to local 99 cents stores, thrift stores and even homes. 

There have been many movements against gentrification in Los Angeles. 

The drawback for these movements is that the city supports gentrification. 

Many officials in office approach gentrification as a way to beautify the streets of Los Angeles, but that does not mean that they have good intentions for the community. 

Most of the people who gentrify have a higher net worth. Therefore when money talks, it is easier for things to disappear.

On the bright side, people who have suffered from gentrification have used that experience as a fuel to bring awareness to it.  

William Camargo, photographer and Arts advocate, documented the displacement of communities through his project “Origins & Displacements.” 

This project features areas that have been both impacted by gentrification and origin stories of brown and black people in Los Angeles. 

In one of his images, a person holds a sign saying, “This area will gentrify soon,” indicating a park he grew up in called La Palma Park. 

Other photographs document stories of working-class people. 

In another image, a person is holding a sign that says, “brown women used to pack oranges here.” 

All these images showcase the endangerment that people of color face every day by people of higher status. 

The fight against gentrification can be very tough. 

With artists like Camargo, there needs to be more action toward the issue. 

Community organizations like East Yard Communities for Environmental Injustice also play a significant role in tackling gentrification. 

In recent months, they won a fight against a developer who wanted to build a gas station next to neighborhood homes. 

When steps are being made like this, there is room for hope that there will be less displacements of working-class communities. 

Gentrification will not be a fear for communities of color. The more attention it gets, the more solutions will be made. 

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