I grew up in a neighborhood of NYC that has, in recent decades went from a poor immigrant neighborhood to one of the trendiest neighborhood in the WORLD (according to CNN). Yesterday was Orthodox Easter. The neighborhood was traditionally immigrants of Orthodox faith. On the
stroke of midnight on Easter there is a church service where practitioners light a candle with the holy light which they bring home to bless their homes. The flame symbolizes the rebirth of Christ. Early Sunday (just past midnight) when church was letting out someone allegedly
called the police and also reported on the Citizen app (might be different people) of a large group in the street holding lighted candles. Yesterday, on a local FB group another person complained about the food being cooked in the neighborhood that is the traditional meal for
Orthodox Easter (BBQ lamb). This individual claims that she was “bothered by the smell” and would “call the police”. She is a recent transplant to the neighborhood. I’m sure the person (people) who reported in fear of church goers w/the holy flame were also transplants.
Gentrifying a neighborhood goes way behind jacking up rents and replacing neighborhood institutions with new businesses to meet the interests of newcomers. Gentrifying also includes policing and attempting to criminalize local customs and religious traditions. Police are not
friends to immigrant communities. Police play a role in gentrification that we should talk more about. Church goers shouldn’t have to live in fear of someone criminalizing their religious tradition. Families that have deep roots in the community shouldn’t
be shamed for the meals that they cook because the “smell” offends someone. If you want to live in a neighborhood with deep cultural roots take the time to understand the culture. Make friends with the locals. Heck, you might even have been invited to join in the festivities.
If you are attempting to move to a cultural diverse neighborhood and make it as vanilla as the neighborhood that you grew up in then don’t. Stay where you are at.

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