Gentrification, the “production of urban space for progressively more affluent users” (Hackworth 2001) is quite possibly the most well-studied phenomenon in urban studies. It has, however, been seriously under-theorized and under-explored by linguists, with its studies being limited mostly to studies of linguistic landscape. In this talk, I discuss a project in Anacostia, Washington, D.C., an historically-Black neighborhood which has undergone rapid change in the 2010s. I trace three frames of how Black residents of the neighborhood evaluate white presence in the neighborhood: neutrally, as a novelty, negatively, as a takeover, and positively, as diversity. I argue that these three frames have the effect of erasing the existence of Black newcomers, which in turn re-produces Big-D discourses which see gentrification as a purely racial, rather than economic issue. This in turn, allows the community members to position the neighborhood’s Black residents—old and new, lower income and affluent—as a single cohesive community staking a firm claim on Black urban space.
January 21, 2021 - 10:28am