I smile and pretend like I don’t know gentrification is a thing.
Because after all you are paying me to drive you to brunch on Abbott Kinney in my new Jetta.
I smile and tell you to have a great day, even though you’ve just finished telling me how sketchy you’re new neighborhood feels.
You just moved from Michigan and took a job in Playa Del Rey and you live next door to some older cholos, but it’s okay because you think they’re moving out soon anyway.
You tell me that the landlord has served an eviction notice.
Apparently that family has lived there for years paying less rent than anyone else in the neighborhood.
You explain that they are remodeling the place to attract people with bigger pockets.
And you are grateful because now, you feel safer.
I drop you off, and circle around the block looking for another pretentious fuck to pick up and take to brunch.
I think to myself how lucky I am to have grown up in a neighborhood nobody wants to even drive through.
I remember when this young lady said to me, “I drove through Wilmington once and I had to lock my doors and roll up my windows.”
I picked her up from the hills of Palos Verdes in my new Jetta, and she drives a new Mercedes and hasn’t even graduated high school.
We talk about college because obviously that’s her next step.
A given – she has choices to where she can go study.
She is good at math, she has choices of what career she wants to pursue.
She has choices.
College was my only option of getting out.
My only option.
I pick up another person.
This time on Santa Monica Blvd.
He’s ready to drink some mimosas on this bright and early Sunday.
He tells me he cant believe how much poverty is out here and how many crazy folks are living on the street.
“Can’t you just get rid of them or something?”
“LA would be so much better without all this filth everywhere”.
I nod in acceptance.
Absolutely, Los Angeles, would be much better without all the filth, all the people who only come here for one thing and one thing only.
Los Angeles, only a vessel for your career.
Los Angeles, my home, not anymore, just a stepping stone for your careers, for your education.
Los Angeles, my home, a wolfs den that eats the weaker alive because only the strongest can survive in a place that thrives off of the labor of my people.
Los Angeles, a hotel, not a home anymore.
Los Angeles, just a business, not a safe space anymore.
I offer you water to drink, because you want to escape the Los Angeles desert heat.
Los Angeles, a mini desert by the beach, you thought would save you from your winters.
Los Angeles, where the sun beats down on my open skin.
Los Angeles, where you hate the sun, but love our events.
So, I pick up another guy in Marina Del Rey.
He tells me, “rich people moving in the inner cities keep the economy flowing, and when we moved out the inner cities in the 89’s, they suffered.
So, in a way, poor people have always been moved out, it’s a cycle that helps the economy.”
And I Almost believed him because he put it in terms that I would have understood in school.
Objective. Textbook. White man.
I’ve been trained to learn what the fuck you think is right, so of course I ALMOST agreed.
But still – I nod in acceptance because I need to fucking pay my car note.
Your displacement is helping the economy.
But it’s hurting our communities.
Something you know nothing of – do you even know your neighbor’s name?
“Your luxury is displacing us,” I read on a sidewalk.
A huge price to pay yet you’re not paying the bill.
You’ve never even seen the check because, you pay someone else to handle your transactions.
And here you are paying me to drive you to your plans in a city that tolerates your ass only because you pay us too.
So, yes, I smile and pretend like gentrification is not a thing so that you may feel comfortable in my new fucking Jetta cause I need to pay my fucking rent and one should never bite the hand that feeds them.
As one chingona once put it, you wait till your full, then burn the fucking kitchen down.