All the rich white folk in Brixton and Peckham. On Gentrification.


So I went to Brixton the other day with a friend of mine, doing what wannabe hipster folk do – eat spicy caribbean vegan wraps and eat vegan cupcakes after attending a little festival about afro hair. It was cool, it was chill, I felt a little bit cultured.

While on our way to get said vegan cupcakes, we ventured through the farmers market/hipstery restaurant bit. And I like farmers markets and rustic restaurants for all their organic, earthiness and whatnot. However, as I looked around amidst the mexican gourmet, vietnamese street food, and kitsch accessory stalls, I was shocked by the lack of black faces. And the very obvious abundance of white ones. With very obviously middle class accents. Was this Brixton? Had I clicked my size 5 Zara boots and ended up in Kansas aka Hampstead Heath? What was going on?

Real integration isn’t a bad thing. I have no issue with my white next door neighbour being my next door neighbour, even though he told my Dad to his negro face that he votes for UKIP because black folk are lazy and should go back to their country although he lives on one floor of a house the same size of the house that my Dad owns all 4 floors of. Yes, racism is irrational.

What I do have problems with is faux, shady integration. Which is pretty much the dish that black people have been served both here and in the USA for the past 50 years. Faux integration is technical integration with systematic economic segregation that ensures that no real integration actually occurs. I mean, it’s kind of smart really, isn’t it? Give people technical rights, take down the signs that say “no dogs, no Coloureds, no Irish”, but effectively orchestrate systems in terms of education, employment and housing that ensure said dogs/coloureds/Irish/ poor white folk are unable to live, work, dwell, or socialise amongst you.

(ETA: To those of you who read the above paragraph and interpret it as ‘she doesn’t like integration’, I really have nothing I can say apart from to ask you to read the paragraph again. I’ve edited it slightly for clarity but I honestly don’t understand how someone interprets that paragraph as ‘she doesn’t like white people’. Like, really?)

So, in the middle of Brixton, where the population used to be overwhelmingly black and working class, there are whole sections where young white middle class people hang out, but not with any of the people that made the place ‘cool’ and ‘vibrant’ in the first place. Nope, they set up communities of gated flats that locals cannot afford to buy. Local people have been evicted out of flats that they’ve lived in for ages to make room for these people. And social circles aren’t integrated.

I don’t expect rich white people to go out on searches to find working class black people to hang out with in a weird non-organic way, I just think the changes happening in Brixton and Peckham are sadly typical of a society that is very much segregated by class and race across the country and the capital. (As an aside, I think the gentrification  of Brixton, Peckham, Harlem, the relentless promotion of Iggy Azalea and Sam Smith, the rock and roll take over of the 50’s, are all symptoms of the cultural vulturism that seems to be endemic to white middle class culture.)

To be honest, I would be lying if I said that gentrification in my hometown of Catford isn’t something that is slightly appealing to me. I’m not averse to my parent’s house price going up a little bit – for a pair of middle aged home owners, that’s probably a good thing. I’m not against the local Costa coffee that’s popped up down the road. Easy access to a soya hot chocolate is great.

But I need to be unselfish. I need to think about those around me who aren’t as privileged. Who won’t be able to afford to live in the places they’ve called home for many years. Who find a Waitrose popping up to replace the local Lidl. What about them?

There are solutions. Some councils such as Hackney, are working on making sure that local residents benefit from changes, and launching schemes that promote integration, but a lot more needs to be done. Maybe there need to be limitations on new developments, or maybe there need to be agreements made about businesses sponsoring community programs as part of contracts etc. I’m not sure. The real problem is deeper than individual councils though, it’s a nation wide, systematic problem with certain groups having access from birth to privileges that others grapple to get.

What do you guys think? Is gentrification positive? What are the negatives? What can be done?


  1. December 7, 2014 / 5:41 pm

    Gentrification I think is one of those things that we talk about now, but which have happened basically ever since we started to live in cities (which is a long time ago). Once a place becomes popular, no matter what you do in terms of trying to steer development, the (perceived) value of living there goes up – which means the haves (or have-mores) will price out everyone else. And, if the trend continues eventually be priced out by even richer ones in return. In the end you would have to centrally decide on the price of housing (and then also keep an eye on who gets to open stores etc) for each area, in order to prevent gentrification. In instances where public sector or government owned corporations own significant proportions of accommodation (council flats or otherwise) one could prevent it. And then of course be accused of squandering opportunities to ease the taxpayers’ burden by not making the best of government assets.
    I think the question is not whether or not you like it (unless you are really willing to essentially nationalize the housing market), I think the key question is how can we mitigate the effects on poor people (A separate question would of course be about making sure that some of the gentrifying baddies are actually black people).

    • December 10, 2014 / 6:47 pm

      Yeh, totally agree that it is inevitable. It’s definitely how you do it that is the main issue, and how it can to be controlled. Capitalism= gentrification at some point.So yeh, we need to mitigate the effects on poor people.

      • Yess Sistar U are correct .What do we do, we complain when we need organising and ensure we sit on the planning groups making these decisions..although most business is done in the “winebars now” oh then again it always was. Its sooo annoying that these MA students can just walk into our run down communities have a conversation with LA planners and acquire empty building for free manoeuvre themselves into director positions with Africans as volunteers.

    • Bessie
      December 15, 2014 / 10:27 am

      “Some councils such as Hackney, are working on making sure that local residents benefit from changes, and launching schemes that promote integration” pray tell where this is happening? I live in Hackney and can tell you for sure that the powers that be are not doing anything but allowing for wholesale social cleansing of the area. Examples are:
      the council tax breaks given to Burrberry et al in the ‘fashion quarter’. This is with money provided after the riots used to bail out millionaires (again); Early summer the antics at Boneville E8 where they posted the blood of a kid who was stabbed. This venue continues to be subsides by the local tax payer. Now I’ve heard anti-workers rights, tax avoiding Amazon have been given half of Hoxton to play with. How did this deal get the go ahead without the connivance of local decision makers, I don’t know. While New Era residents fight to keep their homes – with mounting public support, I should add. It’s a bit more than gentrification. Its GENTRIFICLEANSING and needs to be fought against.

  2. December 8, 2014 / 3:22 pm

    Gentrification is just a segment of the larger issue, which is Cultural appropriation.

    • alex
      December 11, 2014 / 11:54 pm

      interested. Elaborate?

      • December 12, 2014 / 4:29 pm

        Well, there is a reason a neighborhood gets gentrified: it has certain qualities (panache, zest, “swag”, etc.) that makes it fun, even exotic to the dominant culture of the area.

        The people who arrive first do so not out of exploration or variety, but out of necessity (virtually all neighborhoods pre-gentrification offered ample housing at or below market value). These individuals simply cannot afford to live in the more established “hip” areas, so they have no choice but to move on.

        The early adopters get a taste of the food, music, art, and people who live in the once shunned area and realize they’ve been missing out on the enrichment gained from a diverse community. They like it so much that they tell their friends.

        The second wave arrives, closely followed by businesses. This is the beginning of the end, as these incomers are looking to capitalize on this new “trendy” “urban” locale. This is all code for “we like this different ethnic make up, but we need to sanitize it.” Eventually the balance of cultures and ethnicity is diluted due to the natives (I use this term loosely) being pushed out by increased demand on housing and other resources, as well as increased police presence.

        Before long, the neighborhood is no different then the community vacated by the early adopters 5-10 years earlier.

  3. Samantha White
    December 8, 2014 / 4:39 pm

    Such a good article. I have lived in South London for 12 years and have seen the gentrification over time and have to say I am shocked at how quickly Peckham, Brixton and Lewisham have changed. I think the problem is the lack of Caribbean and African influence that remains in the area as it seems to be dying out at such an alarming rate…and as you said replaced by the vegan cupcakes etc. As well, having walked through and eaten at some of the eaterie I was astounded by the stares etc as if I wasn’t welcome or out of place in Brixton. Having also spent time in Brooklyn in NYC I think I have been more struck by feeling out of place in Brixton more than anything… We shall see what happens in the future

      December 11, 2014 / 1:29 am

      Samantha you’re so right. It’s the stares you get from the new Brixton white folk, like you ain’t suppose to be here.

      Brixton is a fashionable place for young white 30 somethings as I told by a police officer in patrol in Brixton.

    • Tim
      December 11, 2014 / 1:26 pm

      Samantha, those are worthy sentiments and there are no easy answers. I feel the same way as you and the writer of the article but there does need to be a bit of self awareness about what is being said. To explain, let me go back to 1975. I’m going to write your post but using words that are most certainly not allowed:

      “I have lived in South London for 12 years and have seen the black people move in over time and have to say I am shocked at how quickly Peckham, brixton and Lewisham have changed. I think the problem in the lack of English and British influence that remains in the area as it seems to be dying out at such an alarming rate…and as you say replaced by the Jamaican patties etc.

      I hope what I’ve said makes some sort of sense. Gentrification is not great, but what is being described is simply the opposite of what happened in the 60s and 70s. The language being used about the subject does seem somewhat reminiscent of racist rhetoric from the past, and I hope I’ve made my point by substituting just a few words….

      • segunleefrench
        December 14, 2014 / 10:38 pm

        Actually Tim, you have done a classic mistaking the wood for the trees. Black British people are a minority in a White society which has a history of racism on the level of individuals and institutions. When Black people moved into London in larger amounts in the 1950s, the White residents rioted and beat up Black people who were walking about in the streets, notably in the Notting Hill riots in 1958. There were many parts of London where it was impossible for Black people to live. Landlords would refuse to rent to Black people right up until the 1970s without any legal redress. Landlords still do refuse to rent to Black people, but in more covert ways. Despite the racist oppression, Black people still managed to carve out little niches for themselves, where they created a vibrant culture that defied all odds. They brought this culturally vibrancy to areas that were often run down. Once these areas had become “cool” through the hard work and enthusiasm of Black people, comfortably off White people decided they wanted a taste of the coolness, but they didn’t really want the Black people, somewhat like people who move into an area with a vibrant nightlife, who then try to close down the pubs and night clubs. Of course, this is not exclusive to Black neighbourhoods, the same has happened in some White working class neighbourhoods, like Hoxton. Anyway, you don’t use the term, but essentially you are suggesting that Samantha’s language is ‘reverse racism’. I suggest that you watch Aamer Rahman’s Fear Of A Black Planet clip if you truly want a deeper understanding of this:

    • Tim Cole
      December 11, 2014 / 4:58 pm

      I have lived in South London for 12 years and have seen the change over time and have to say I am shocked at how quickly Peckham, Brixton and Lewisham have changed. I think the problem is the lack of English and British influence that remains in the area as it seems to be dying out at such an alarming rate…and as you said replaced by the Jamaican patties etc. As well, having walked through and eaten at some of the eaterie I was astounded by the stares etc as if I wasn’t welcome or out of place in Brixton.

      One paragraph is acceptable. The other one isn’t. You do realise that by switching just a few terms that you’re using the same sort of complaints as voiced by those in the 60s and 70s. So what’s the difference this time?

      • December 11, 2014 / 9:05 pm

        I see what you’re trying to do, but quite obviously there is a world of difference in discussing gentrification where POOR keyword, POOR black people are no longer able to afford homes in areas they once lived, to a white person being upset that English influence is being replaced by Jamaican patties. Clearly, estate agents ruthlessly buying houses from people at cheap prices because they can no longer afford the mortgages in the are they have known and loved for years and then reselling them at thousands of pounds higher is slightly different to being upset that oxtail has replaced fish and chips. The ethics are a little bit different. And this whole ‘if you reverse it it would be racist’ argument is complete poppycock. The history of racism, present systematic racism and oppression and therefore current socio-economic conditions, of black people in this country and in places like the US are completely different to those of white people, so the situation cannot just be ‘reversed’ and then be exactly the same. I’m sorry, but you’re simply wrong.
        I suggest (and I’m not trying to be patronising) that you do a bit of reading around the subject of gentrification, especially in places like Harlem for a better understanding of the socio economics of race. I would also suggest reading around white privilege, but from your comment, I’m in doubt as to whether you’d even begin to admit that such as thing exists. Thanks for reading.

      • Tim Cole
        December 12, 2014 / 1:11 pm

        You haven’t actually dealt with the very simple issue that I have highlighted though have you. In your post you make it clear that you’re talking about poor black people, but as I have shown by just changing a few words from your blog, your initial response isn’t just about income inequality, it’s about culture and race. You appear to use the economic element to hide behind. Are there poor white people in Brixton too?

      • December 12, 2014 / 2:05 pm

        I’m sorry Tim but re-read the post although I’m not in complete agreement with the OP she did mention “poor white people” before you say things you should try reading.

      • segunleefrench
        December 14, 2014 / 10:53 pm

        I can see that you feel very strongly about this issue. You seem to be very articulate. However, you appear to have difficulty in understanding the intertwining of power structures that underpins racism. I am particularly struck by your perception of this blog post as being “sinister”, a particularly loaded choice of words. Perhaps, as Girl With An Afro suggests, it would be useful for you to investigate white privilege and perhaps also have a look into the concept of derailing discussions about racism.

      • rude gyal
        December 28, 2014 / 4:56 pm

        In the 80s, Brixton covered market was made up of butchers and fishmongers of many ethnicities, serving an economically under-resourced public that reflected its stall holders in its ethnic make up. Pretty much like Deptford high street now where i live. A place that is about to undergo cataclysmic “re-investement”. Similarly to Deptford now, Brixton was a place suffering from huge under-investment, poor housing stock, poor infrastructure, on many levels people were at breaking point but despite the lack of investment and no chain or branded shop (apart from spud-u-like) coming within a mile of a barge pole, there was not a poverty of spirit. There was only resilience. And it is this emotional and humane quality that the process of gentrification taps into and exploits. More than that. It sucks it dry, discards of it, leaving it to form its scattered self somewhere else. Who cares. Anywhere else. The reality is that the same communities do not just reform again somewhere else. The existing community is not just underneath the one that has been shipped in and superimposed on the top, along with the chain and designer shops and vegan raw cupcakes.

        The rates aren’t kept low for old time sakes butchers because it is a bit boring and unsustainable having ten butchers in a row and we don’t care now we can charge seven times the rent for Argentinian 50 day aged grass -fed beef.

        Who cares really that the semantics offend you when the underlying dismantling of real communities should be the thing that really offends you. Living/ working in an area for 12 years is obviously not enough, qutie clearly to give you an emotional insight to the damage that deliberate under investment brings and subsequently exploiting the charm of this in order to socially cleanse an area. Your changing of a couple of words brings no clarity or true argument it just shows how outrageously you have missed the point of what you have bought in to.

    • Aya Bollo
      August 17, 2015 / 12:06 am

      You feel out of place in Brixton because rich white people are about. You’re not even a closet racist. You scum.

  4. jon
    December 8, 2014 / 5:43 pm

    I think it’s more a case of rich and work class it’s about making sure everybody has a fair wage. making sure everybody gets a fair share of the Wage pot and affordable housing.

    • Aya Bollo
      August 17, 2015 / 12:12 am

      No. For this girl its about skin colour. Her entire piece focuses on projecting her uncomfort around white people, on to those white people. She needs to look in the mirror and see her hatefulness.

  5. December 8, 2014 / 10:52 pm

    Hey, we love what you have to say! Check out the re-blog at

  6. December 9, 2014 / 12:17 am

    Can you please say it louder so more people can hear because its like they dont see whats happening. I dont mind the shops bar etc, its nice and brings variety. What I mind is that people who have always lived in Brixton (and places like it) will not be able to afford it. It bothers me that there is not enough social housing but the council will sell land or an estate so it can be developed but not for the benefit of the people in the area or the people they moved but for profit and who knows what they do with that!
    Matthias your reaponse was good and informative until the black baddies bit!

    • December 10, 2014 / 9:48 pm

      Just to clarify the “black baddies” as you rephrased it slightly: The point there was that there is an issue that is separate from gentrification, which is that the people that are representing the gentrification are currently mostly white (I did not fact-check this but I am simply going with Shade’s claim). Which, I think at least, comes down to (a) it is a costly enterprise to join the gentrifying baddies (which I don’t think are bad people, as can be deduced from my first comment) and unfortunately non-whites continue to be underrepresented (although not absent) from the wealthier groups in society; and (b) it appears to be that many of the gentrifying baddies (and here they’re starting to be not so nice) might not actually be too keen on living in close quarters with people whose skin pigmentation differs greatly.
      I am no friend of this myself, even if I don’t exactly suffer from the discrimination directly, but it’s there and I think if we could get to a point where gentrification is truly and honestly ONLY about money, we would live in a better society than we do now. Although, just to close the loop, we would still be dealing gentrification.

      • Aya Bollo
        August 17, 2015 / 12:16 am

        However, lets look at how the writer of this article pretends she is ok with integration, but when it actually happens she is shocked and it is an ordeal for her. Closet racist. Scum.

        • October 1, 2015 / 8:22 pm

          Reading back on this comment is hilarious loool. Integration is an ‘ordeal’ for me? Me? Who spent all my formative years in private education where I was often the only black person?. Erm, no. I’ve spent much more of my time around white people than around black people so I’m quite used to being ‘integrated’. Please don’t try and label me as a racist based on your really skewed understanding of that word. Nothing I’ve said is closeted actually, I’m quite open about my views on race.

  7. December 9, 2014 / 1:01 am

    Can you please say it louder so more people can hear you because its like the dont see what is happening. I dont mind the restaurants and bars etc they’re nice and bring variety. What I do mind is that people who have always lived in Brixton (and places like it) will not, scratch that, cannot afford to live there. It bothers me that there is not enough social housing but the council are selling land and estates so that they can be developed but not for the benefit of the people in the area or the people they moved but for profit and who knows what they do with that!
    Matthias your response was good and informative until the black baddies bit!

  8. December 9, 2014 / 4:39 pm

    I used to pass through Brixton on a daily basis to get to school and also continue to visit as my gran still lives there and other family members. I currently live outside of London but hope to return one day. On my last visit to London I was surprised by the abundance of white faces in Brixton. The area often demonised by the British press has new residents. Its the Notting Hill effect. No Red Records no Choice FM. The future of Brixton is written in the wind. Although Brixton has had some changes I still see the same Brown faces being stopped and searched by the police.

  9. John.
    December 9, 2014 / 8:01 pm

    Have you seen Harlesden in North West London? What a dump! Ripe for gentrification. Loads of scummy gangs of young, aggressive lads everywhere, people who treat the place like a toilet, full of terrible chicken takeaways, rubbish everywhere, people who dont speak english…need i go on? I may move to BRIXTON!

    • AmboNW10
      December 11, 2014 / 2:50 pm

      Ive lived in Harlesden for 21 out of my 21 years! Hope it never has a costa or a ‘gastro’ pub. How it is, is how it is. Take a read of ‘A London Safari: Walking through NW10’ by Rose Rouse, if you want to find out more of the history and people of the area. I think its one of the most unique places in London (Zones 1/2/3) for resisting the changes happening, seen in Brixton and Peckham. If residents want the facilities/activities/products that gentrification brings (e.g. posh pub lunches, overpriced mortadella or Isabel Marant wedge trainers) only have to go down the road to Kensal Rise or Queens park. Very proud to be born in the area – it has its problems but actually, it is rarely on the news for major crime/violence taken place there. People who live there, treat it like they live there. Those chicken shops may be a little grim but whatever – they feed people and cheaply. If you dont like it, dont go. I find your comment about Harlesden being full of people that don’t speak english pretty ignorant, essentially racist and also inaccurate. Harlesden was historically made up of Irish and Caribbean people (who both speak english) whilst also home to Brazilian and Portuguese communities. This clearly shows that Harlesden has always been a home for different cultures, clearly founding its legacy today in Brent (I think statistically most multicultural place in the UK). Clearly found yourself in the wrong place mate. Off you go to Brixton, hope you can afford it. Ciao, Tchau, وداعا, likkle muore, Do widzenia, good bye from Harlesden.

  10. Jessica
    December 9, 2014 / 11:40 pm

    This has left me so incredibly let down. The basis of what you’re saying I agree with. You need to maintain the quality and charm of places like Brixton but to base your dissatisfaction upon seeing “the very obvious abundance of white” faces”…..WTF?!?! You follow this up with anecdotes and statements about how you’ve clearly got no issue with white people, all of which are about as convincing as “I’m not a racist, I’ve got black mates”. If this was your purpose then well done, but I don’t think it was. Like I said, I agree with your overall point (maintaining charm, quality etc), but you have for me, really sold yourself short in your execution. Shame.

    • December 10, 2014 / 6:45 pm

      I didn’t say I’ve haven’t got issue with white people. I said I don’t have issues with integration. As in, it’s not the fact there there are white people in Brixton that is the problem. It’s race +class, how that is intertwined, and how it plays out.I have massive issues with the way white people as a general group in society conduct themselves in relation to black people. Massive issues with the systematic racism. Massive issues with white privilege I don’t have issues with individual white people though. Glad you enjoyed the main point though.

      • Tim
        December 11, 2014 / 1:33 pm

        Hi Thatgirlwithafro, as I’ve said somewhere else on here the wording does seem to hark to what we are told is the racist language of the 70s. Just to make my point I’ve switched a few words around in one of your paragraphs. Might make you think twice about what you’re really objecting to. To clarify I’m white and middle class and work in Brixton and have recently moved away from the area after 12 years. I don’t particularly like what’s happening either as everything starts to look the same as everywhere else, but I caught myself complaining last year because I realised that I was actually doing what would have been unacceptable to do 40 years earlier if complaining about the black influx in to the area.

        “And I like caribbean markets and ethnic restaurants for all their organic, earthiness and whatnot. However, as I looked around amidst the Jamaican gourmet, Nigerian street food, and kitsch accessory stalls, I was shocked by the lack of white faces. And the very obvious abundance of black ones. With very obviously Caribbean accents. Was this Brixton? Had I clicked my size 5 Zara boots and ended up in Kansas aka Kingston, Jamaica? What was going on?”


      • alex
        December 12, 2014 / 10:34 am

        “I have massive issues with the way white people as a general group in society conduct themselves in relation to black people.” Wow

        • December 12, 2014 / 11:08 am

          Given the past 400 years of history and the current state of affairs in regards to race, I’m not sure why this would shock you.

      • Aya Bollo
        August 17, 2015 / 12:21 am

        I don’t think you have a grasp on reality. White people are afraid to bad mouth us or treat us wrongly. I don’t see this systematic racism you seem to think exists. I think you are projecting your hate on to others. Has a rich white girl stole your boy?

        • August 31, 2015 / 8:21 pm

          I don’t even think you’re black, I think you’re one of those trolls who impersonates a black person. Either way, love and light to you.

    • December 11, 2014 / 9:55 pm

      I’m not sure why you feel ‘let down’ by the way. DId you read previous blogs and expect something different? Or do I know you personally and am just forgetting? Not being facetious, just genuinely confused at the ‘feeling let down’ bit?

      • Adamski
        December 12, 2014 / 3:59 pm

        It’s a shame that the people in the above comments are
        1. Obviously not comfortable to talk about race
        2. Are not acknowledging how the areas listed had local mixed cultures that made them ‘interesting’ areas for people to want to move to
        3. That the themes and food of the local cultures living in the area have been used and marketed to a completely different group of privileged people not from the local area or cultures at all
        4. Don’t understand INTEGRATION
        5. The difference when talking about middle class white people and just white people in general.

      • segunleefrench
        December 14, 2014 / 10:43 pm

        Didn’t you know? You are personally responsible for Jessica’s understanding of how Black people are, and you have deeply disappointed her. Shame on you!

  11. Piff
    December 10, 2014 / 2:06 am

    I quite agree with everything that has been said in this article mainly because, I being a ‘native’ to Hackney, have witnessed the immense gentrification of my once humble, run down borough. It’s good on one hand, all the nifty shops and events that weren’t here before now exist and the gang related crime that was such a prevalant problem has really calmed down now. That being said, I feel as if gentrification sucks out the original roots of an area and turns it into a trendy, plastic playground for those with money to play. It’s a damn shame really..

  12. Esme
    December 10, 2014 / 3:22 pm

    I have mixed feelings towards gentrification. But what I find quite puzzling is the view that some people are “blocked” from experiencing the supposedly nice changes, such as Brixton Village/Market Row, because of their race or class. Who’s to say that those particular people even *want* any part of it. Perhaps it’s not something that appeals to them and they have no interest in dining out for Japanese pancakes. I find it quite interesting – this opinion that because it’s middle class it’s automatically ‘better’ so of course why wouldn’t those less well off want in? Let’s face it, a lot of the food and goods that come adjoined to gentrification – boutique stalls, juice bars etc – are overpriced and overhyped anyway.
    The shooting up of house prices, both to buy and to rent, is having catastrophic effects on the local community but I fear that the solutions to this – rent control etc – is just too unfathomable for local and national government. It’ll never happen. Essentially, those less well off in Brixton, Peckham, New Cross – the last vestiges of ‘cool’ and affordable inner London – are going to be pushed out. It’s a massive shame, but at the same time gentrification is smartening up otherwise horrid high streets and areas. Charlton desperately needs the gentrification wand somewhat. I’m all for local artisans and the kind of gentification that has happened on Bellenden Road in Peckham as it’s championing local business. BUT at the same time, residents still need their £1 stores and Card Factory because not all of us can spend triple the price for everyday items.

    • December 10, 2014 / 6:39 pm

      That is a really good point that I hadn’t thought of so much when I wrote this blog. Yes, you’re right, there is a kind of underlying assumption that because it’s middle class it’s good. Essentially, I think it’s more house prices etc that is worrying as opposed to not being able to go to the juice bar. Which as you said, some people just don’t want to go to. I do think gentrification can be good in some ways if it’s done in a way that benefits the residents that are already there, and has checks and balances.

  13. Hannah
    December 10, 2014 / 6:34 pm

    I would have been far more likely to agree with this article if it had not of been racist. I completely agree, rich people are pushing poor people further and further out of London, with housing prices being almost obsured. However, I do not agree that you use the term rich white people. Are you insinuating that there are no rich black people, or Asian people, who are able to afford expensive housing. A rich black man pushing a poor white man out of the area is exactly the same as a rich white man pushing out a poor black man. I do not see why race needs to come into this. This article should be purely about the rich/poor divide. And may I add, I am sorry to hear about your neighbour, people like that disgust me.

    Yours sincerely,
    (A dweller of a similar area, Croydon)

    • December 10, 2014 / 6:43 pm

      Obviously there are rich black people. Quite clearly, I wrote about my parents owning quite a large home in Catford (although I defo wouldn’t consider that ‘rich’, but it’s all relative I guess), so I don’t understand how you misconstrued that. Overwhelmingly though, it is rich white people. The reason I added rich, is because it’s not just the fact that they are white. It’s rich and white. It’s obvious that they are both. There is nothing racist about noting that or noting that the social dynamics are different when rich white people move into an overwhelmingly working class with a large black population area, than if it was a white working class area. Pretending differences in race don’t exist won’t make racism go away. In fact, it is a form of racism itself that silences the experiences of middle class black people because confronting the reality of racism and stratification in society that are based around race makes you uncomfortable.And I’m sorry about that.

      • Hannah
        December 10, 2014 / 6:56 pm

        And if, hypothetically, an article was written about someone being unhappy that poor black people were hanging out in an area such as Chelsea, an area predominately rich white people, would you consider that racist? Because that is surely exactly the same thing, just the other way around? I can’t stand white people being racist toward black people, but I hate black people being racist to white people just as much.

      • RH
        December 10, 2014 / 7:42 pm

        Hannah, if an article was written by a rich black person unhappy about “poor white people” it would be very different to the message of this article. This isn’t about racism, it’s socioeconomics.

      • Jasmine
        December 11, 2014 / 2:11 pm

        Hannah, ‘I can’t stand white people being racist toward black people but I hate black people bring racist to white people just as much’ I don’t see how you can? ‘racism’ to white people isn’t really racism: seeing as white people have not got a historical background of oppress. Therefore you can’t just reverse sentences and expect them to have the same meaning. If white people in Chelsea were unhappy about poor black people hanging out there this would be completely different because they would be speaking from a position of advantage,and not from a position of hardship that this article talks about. You can’t really pretend that class stands completely apart from race because the two are still intertwined, and whilst their are rich people from all races the majority of the upper class is still predominately white.

        • December 11, 2014 / 9:07 pm

          Thank you. Fed up of replying to comments from people who are deliberately choosing to not think critically about what they are writing.

      • Tim
        December 13, 2014 / 12:48 pm

        A lack of critical thinking? What a wonderfully patronising intellectual dismissal of people that don’t agree with you.

        Being in a position of power is most certainly an issue in terms of being able to act upon racism. But that is an economical facet and ignores simple human nature and sociology. It is an overly simplified argument which ignores a simple truth: that those who are poor are also capable of stereotyping based on race and culture. Or to simplify it a bit for you if you yourself are not capable of critical thinking: ‘everyone’s a little bit racist.’ A considerable hat tip to Avenue Q for that one.

        And to add a bit more critical thinking:what did the Caribbean immigrants do when they came to London and Brixton? What did the Portuguese do in Stockwell? Or the Poles in Streatham?
        They settled in one area where there were others from the same culture. It is a part of human nature to do so.

        And as London becomes more and more diverse as areas become colonised in a similar manner by many other cultures, then the culture that is dominant in the UK, which is white people (sorry about that) are starting to act in the same manner as immigrants. They are flocking to areas to be with their own. Just as West Indians and Africans did the same in Brixton in the 60s and 70s, so too are the white middle classes.

        As I have said previously, I am not overly happy about the homogenisation/hipsterisation of Brixton. But neither am I happy with people complaining about the takeover of an area that is simply a matter of history repeating itself in the same way as before, with the same rhetoric (white faces everywhere/black faces everywhere) but using the idea of rich vs poor to hide the rather more sinister side of this discussion.

        Lack of critical thinking? Perhaps you should turn that thinking onto yourselves a bit more.

        • December 13, 2014 / 2:56 pm

          The beauty with definitions of words is that they are already defined for us so no critical thinking needed. The only people having to use critical thinking on such clear definitions are those trying to reverse it’s meaning lol Back to you IQ and all.

        • December 13, 2014 / 4:07 pm

          Erm. No, not really. As I said lack of critical thinking due to not actually reading what I’ve written properly and engaging with things I’ve actually said as opposed to vague feelings of discontent due to a definition of racism that would not be agreed on by most reputable sociologists. “Everyone’s s little bit racist”. Classic response by a white person who hasn’t done any type of reading on critical race theory, and thinks making generalisations about a specific race is the same or comparable to systemic racism. Have you read any research on gentrification at all? You clearly haven’t and that’s ok. It wasn’t my intention to be patronising. What is patronising is to say that I’m simplifying a subject that you clearly haven’t bothered to do much research on. I do appreciate input of people who disagree with me as some have, but not when they arrogantly write about things they know little about.


  14. somethingforeveryone
    December 10, 2014 / 7:48 pm

    I’m a Londoner and have lived in and around Brixton for over 25 years!
    I have friends who own and run shops in Brixton Village they are white, black and brown – all of them are smart entrepreneurs.
    Now we have fantastic places to eat and drink, a superb cinema and a market that was virtually derelict has returned to economic and social life again AND along with our gourmet coffee we can still pick up
    a pigs foot for a stew! It’s not colour it’s economics – London is brilliant and that makes London expensive. The change is good and rocketing house prices have gifted many working class Brixton families of all colours an enormous payday!
    I’d rather enjoy the changes then go back to the grim and aggression. Let’s all enjoy the good coffee, pigs feet and cupcakes together!

    • Sam F
      December 14, 2014 / 12:05 pm

      I totally agree with you!!
      Someone that has got it in one I am young black mixed race (White and black as you would think) no I am black, Latin American,Dutch and goan! And I have just recently brought a 4 bed Victorian house in Brixton! I used come to Brixton before gentrification from in the womb and growing up, I used to say I would never live here coming from Brixtons Clapham neighbour now after all the generication I love living here I love the mix of shops because for my family we love the west Indian food shops, Portuguese food shops, costa, gastro pubs and the traditional and new brand name shops
      It’s a happy mix of the two if your into that stuff!!
      Some times thats the problem the local people are just not into that stuff and don’t like change I know I have heard many people around us say so! But an area is what the people put in to it.
      When I go Tooting the area is predominantly of Indian origin they own most of the shops they shop at the shops that are owned by their own race and they shop in the brand name shops It’s a mix that’s working because they have embraced that bit of change!
      Thats what all people Need to do try Abit of the other side.
      As for the housing element try living in Clapham we lived in our 2bed maisonette that we brought for a small fortune 12 years ago it cost just under my mother in laws 3 bed Victorian next to Victoria Park in Hackney (prime location)
      Brixton is one of the places like Hackney when they build these gated developments a portion of it does go to the council’s and less fortunate people in resceptive of there race or economic standing. They get to live in these gated communites for a fraction of what its sold or rented for on the private market!
      It’s not about buying houses because alot of middle class can’t even afford to buy houses at the moment most of who you think have brought their house are just rent on my road most of the houses are private rented some brought!
      So it not about white people or black people PEOPLE just need to learn to integrate with each other I understand what girl with an afro is saying about getting stared at by white people my two of my children go to private school and some of the older white parents look at us like why are you here there younger peers are very nice and welcoming but it’s the same when white people wallk into a black establishement they get the same why are they here stare!
      So really you can’t win until you we learn to get along!

  15. Leo
    December 10, 2014 / 10:51 pm

    Think this is slightly missing the point. I and many of my friends are from ‘Kansas’, it has become impossible to get a foot on the property ladder for any young people without giant salaries. Hampstead is now only really for the very rich, many of which own houses there as an asset, i see so many houses empty all year round, rather saddens me.

    It has always been the case that the young earners of London, or any city for that matter, end up leaving the boroughs they grew up in to inhabit accommodation in cheaper more interesting/colourful places within the city. This of course raises the prices of said area, and the poorer people who don’t own are squeezed out. Looks fairly bleak for the generations to come in terms of ever owning a property in London.

    I agree it’s terrible to see a beloved, interesting part of the city we live in to be scrubbed clean, re-packaged and sold by estate agents to those able to earn more. This however will continue to happen over the years and there’s not a lot we can do to stop it.

  16. December 11, 2014 / 1:20 am

    This article is everything that makes my blood boil about this ‘gentrification’ debate, It’s obvious, Brixton is an area close to London so inevitably the rich are going to move in and the poor pushed further out as Central London becomes more and more unnaffordable. This is such a racist post!!! Ok so middle class white people stick together, but no more than working class black people, or in my area Asian families. It’s human nature. Britain is a cosmopolitan, colourful country, and all the better for it, but I am assuming that at some point in history, Africans and carribeans moved into Brixton with their culture and overwhelmed the people that were originally living there at the time. Groups of similar people with similar interests stick together, it’s not all to do with skin colour, it’s just tribal mentality, human nature. Brixton is 3 miles outside London, it was never going to escape the spread of the young and rich who need the convenience of living near central, and I’m sure they’re not all white!!!

  17. December 11, 2014 / 1:25 am

    It’s obvious, Brixton is an area close to London so inevitably the rich are going to move in and the poor pushed further out as Central London becomes more and more unnaffordable. This is such a racist post!!! Ok so middle class white people stick together, but no more than working class black people, or in my area Asian families. It’s human nature. Britain is a cosmopolitan, colourful country, and all the better for it. I am assuming that at some point in history, Africans and carribeans moved into Brixton with their culture and overwhelmed the people that were originally living there at the time. My point is that groups of similar people with similar interests stick together, it’s not all to do with skin colour, it’s just tribal mentality, human nature. Brixton is 3 miles outside London, it was never going to escape the spread of the young and rich who need the convenience of living near central, and I’m sure they’re not all white!!!

    • December 11, 2014 / 9:14 pm

      It is to do with race. Al the reserach on gentrification in the US, suggests that, and it’s quite obvious that the same patterns occur here. Please read. And please input ‘gentrification’ in google scholar if you do so wish. There are plenty of articles that say in more academic and possibly coherent terms what I’m trying to say in this blog, if that’s what you require. Thanks for reading.

    • alex
      December 12, 2014 / 12:10 am

      From what you say Swaffling, it is clear to this reader you have not lived in London in the last half a century, nor bothered to look particularly far into this issue. For want of a better term of phrase, the history of Afro-Caribbean migration is not that black and white, and, despite the narrative upheld by the media – riots, sink estates, etc. The black community in Brixton vastly improved it by importing their culture into a depressed vaccuum; they did not overwhelm anyone. They were, in fact, actually invited 🙂
      I live in Brixton. I am white and middle class. I am very unhappy about the current situation. You seem to celebrate cosmopolitanism, yet cosmopolitanism is circumstantial and can easily be appropriated by middle class (yes, the ‘white’ variety (hint = there’s just a lot more of it ;)) cultural hegemony. One day people like you will wake up and realise the world has become some bland, beige bubble of noxious vanity, devoid of meaning or culture. And you will know you did nothing to stop it.

      • December 12, 2014 / 10:12 am

        Thank you for your info Alex, you are correct in thinking that I don’t know the history, hence my ‘assumption’ that at some point in history Africans and Caribbeans moved into Brixton. I don’t appreciate your comment ‘people like you’ when you clearly have no idea who I am. I am not condoning gentrification, nor agreeing that what is happening in Brixton is right, just that it is inevitable due to how unnaffordable Central London is becoming and how close and convenient Brixton is. I have no interest in whether you are white, black or pink, or whether you live in Brixton, Soho or Timbuctoo but thanks anyway!

      • December 12, 2014 / 10:58 am

        Also I know plenty of people both black and white, that whilst studying in London lived in Brixton due to it being affordable, but they are now hard working, well earning individuals that call Brixton home and have done for the last decade, so should they just leave to keep Brixton poor?? The middle class aren’t just moving in. It’s inevitable, it’s a natural pattern of growing cities ‘gentrification’ is not some conscious, racist movement of middle class white people, as is being implied, in such a racist way I hasten to add.

  18. amy
    December 11, 2014 / 2:09 pm

    I love Peckham as it is but all I ask is that it, specifically Rye Lane, was clean (tumble weave!) and didn’t stink on all sorts of vomit-inducing levels..!

  19. Jasmine
    December 11, 2014 / 2:12 pm


    • David
      December 15, 2014 / 10:27 am

      ‘racism’ to white people isn’t really racism: seeing as white people have not got a historical background of oppression………..??? A stunningly stupid statement! Jasmine, read some history books about Irish and Scots oppression and slavery.

  20. Roy
    December 11, 2014 / 2:52 pm

    what about the rich black ‘folk’ moving in and the poor white ‘folk’ being pushed out by council planning. Your blog is racist!

    • December 11, 2014 / 9:06 pm

      If you can give me an example of where this is happening on a wide scale I’d be happy to comment, but clearly it is not. You have a shallow understanding of racism. Thanks for reading.

        December 11, 2014 / 9:48 pm

        You have given as many ‘examples’ as I have in my reply.
        The truth is many different ethnic groups have moved out of South London including ‘white people’ whoever they are?
        because they have either chosen to because they own houses and have seen their value increase, forced out by increased rents or forced out by Lambeth council demolishing social housing stock to re developers.
        To suggest this is because of racist white people is both immature and blind sighted.
        It is economics
        Please don’t suggest because my skin colour is white I have no experience of racism, I have experienced it plenty of times in both this and other countries.

  21. john
    December 11, 2014 / 5:35 pm

    I have read your article and I really disagree with your comments, I live just out side of Brixton and in my opinion it seems that you are unhappy with the amount of ‘rich white folks’ that now live or visit Brixton which I believe is a racist comment in itself. The basis on which you automatically assume that well spoken white people are automatically rich or middle class is also a discriminating comment. In your article you also say that there are problems with integration but there are not it is solely down to the people living in a given area so socialise with one another including all genders and all races but it is well known that races tend to stay with their own races due to stereotypical views on one another or that they are scared. Housing that has been apparently torn down with tenants evicted I’m pretty sure would be given alternative accommodation to live in. I would like to say that the Kings College University student accommodation has recently opened with hundreds of student coming in to fill those empty rooms, where will they go in their free time? The local area which is Brixton and also even closer Peckham, and they will I’m sure be supporting those communities with the money they spend and what is wrong with that? Absolutely nothing. Finally I conclude that your article has many flaws within it and in my opinion shows discrimination and in fact subtle racism.

  22. Anonymous
    December 11, 2014 / 10:45 pm

    Ignore race for just a moment. Gentrification usually occurs when young professionals move into an area that is well connected and relatively cheap in comparison to neighboring locations. London is the economic hub of Britain, it is the center of finance, business and tourism. Do you not think that it is fair that the people who have educated themselves and contribute the most to London’s economic growth and well being should live closer to where they work and where a wealth of facilities are? With student finance the opportunity to study at university is a lot more accessible than in the past; especially for people with poor backgrounds that will be offered grants. Do you honestly think that poorer people that contribute less to our economy should get to live in zone 2 above others that contribute more? The reason these young professionals often go for areas like Brixton are because they cannot afford other areas. This is largely due to benefit and council housing schemes. Many tenants in zones 1-3, for example areas like Westminster, have had the council pay their rent as they cannot work/find a job. This includes rents up to £1000 a month. This has contributed to the inflation of rent and house prices in London causing many people not to be able to afford to live in areas that others are getting housing benefit for! Of course this is largely the fault of the government and the benefits system, but would you say that it is fair that people should be allowed to live in areas paid for by the council that hard working people cannot afford?

    • December 12, 2014 / 8:28 am

      I can’t ignore race when clearly race and gentrification are linked. All the research suggests this. I think white liberals (especially) want black people to not talk about race because they see it as ‘divisive’. Actually, systematic racidm and the structures it creates are divisive. If you input gentrification and race into google scholar, the link is clear. So why would I ignore it?
      I agree with you that more needs to be done in terms of providing housing for young professionals but that wasn’t the main point of my blog. I was talking about the link between socio-economica and race. This whole “ignore systematic racism so we can fight classism/lack of housing/graduates finding jobs” thing just doesn’t wash with me I’m afraid.

      • Inds.B
        December 18, 2014 / 10:05 pm

        Why do you feel like there is such a strong point relating race and gentrification together yet you yourself can’t even come up with real statistics to back up your point. Also, living in Lewisham (born and bred) I see that the black community actually separate themselves. The amount of times I have been racially discriminated by black people and I’m half Jamaican! I personally feel like a lot of black people feel sorry for themselves in situations like this but realistically it’s not about them, or “rich white people”. If you want to speak about who will get hit the hardest from gentrification then go and speak to the elderly who are going through an even worse lonely struggle than anyone who is getting moved off of their council estate or flat. It’s not all about black vs white. Your ignorance is near enough as the same as the EDL claiming that immigrants are stealing their jobs. Also can I say that this is not an issue amongst community. It’s not anyone’s fault if they move into the higher priced flats that have been built because it’s what they have earnt with their hard earned cash and if they want to up their standards of living then let them so desire. Yes I understand it can break the community spirit and culture within the area but that has nothing to do with ethnicity or colour of skin, it is all down to what you want to bring to an area and if people want to live quiet lives and not be involved then that is also THEIR choice.

        • December 2, 2016 / 3:54 am

          That’s way more clever than I was excntpieg. Thanks!

    • December 12, 2014 / 8:36 am

      But to answer your questions…it’s not just students/recent graduates buying these houses. These are million pound houses. So it’s not struggling graduates.
      Secondly, no, I don’t think it’s right that poor people should be evicted to make room for people who ‘contribute more to the economy’, when the factors that stratify this country into class are myriad. There is systematic classism as well as racism that contributes to this. Start off sorting out issues of social mobility on a wider scale, don’t just push poor people out and create ghettos. I wouldn’t assume that most people who are poor aren’t hard working so it’s not about ‘rewarding’ people fir their hard work.

    • December 13, 2014 / 10:19 am

      Good points but business doesn’t care about fair the facts are clear this country was built up by hard working Caribbeans and it now appears we no longer serve a purpose. So it’s now a case of thanks but now we wish to enjoy the fruits of your labour. We only have ourselves to blame because the writing has been on the wall from time and we failed to take heed and now the big houses our parents sold cheaply are now worth millions. Ideally we the children should have bought those houses but we missed the trick and are now priced out. Sadly we partied too hard instead of learning about business generally. No point crying over spilt milk we need to get proactive and decide where we go from here for sake of our children and future generations because right now we getting left behind.

  23. Nadine
    December 12, 2014 / 7:54 am

    It is an interesting article. I wrote something similar around the time when hoodies were banned from bluewater. That is segregating. It demonises and brands a particular class of people and is legitamised through the reinforcement of cultural stereotypes and biases. And it plays on fear of the unknown. It is not the case with Brixton, you have framed it in a way that the ‘rich’ white man is pushing out the ‘poor’ black man. Is that not negating your entire argument? is that not biased?

    Whilst I partially agree with your article it is somewhat reductionist in stance. It is not a race issue, it is a class issue. It is facecieously written, I am not white but I found you could have expressed yourself differently. A rich white or a rich black person is elementary where does race come into it? You may not have meant to come across as biased, but it detracted from your original point (I think)

  24. December 12, 2014 / 10:45 am

    Ok so since I made the mistake of subscribing to comments when I first commented I shall contribute once more here. I think Nadine has a point in that there is a complex issue with a lot of layers to it and melting it down into a coherent blog post below the 10,000 word limit would probably require considerable effort. I don’t think I would have done so.
    To all the people saying this blog post is racist – I think it is not. Partly because I sometimes pretend to know the author better than that, and partly because it actually objectively isn’t. She is not MAKING something about race that genuinely isn’t (which would be racist, such as let’s say “white people are more likely to carry weapons than black people” (any reference to US police statements unintentional)), she is pointing out the racial undercurrent of the gentrification of previously “black” areas. I think the Huffpost article (again: makes for good supplementary reading. There are some hard questions that need asking about why an area gets better public services and infrastructure as soon as (predominantly white) middle class citizens move in. It’s an interesting feature.

    If I may, once again, compare this with Germany. Gentrification here arguably is less about race, there aren’t that many black people around to have predominantly black areas in towns (at least not that I would have ever seen/heard of them), yet gentrification is real and it’s wide-spread. Gentrification contains a reference to “gentry” if I am not mistaken, i.e. the people just below the nobility back in the day, but above the landless peasants. What one might see as a parallel to middle class today: not rich, but not working class either. They have connections, they participate in mainstream political discourse, they are economically and socially in a position where, if there is a group of them they have influence. They have opinions, and they have the ability to make them heard.
    Poorer groups in the population generally do not have that ability, not unless there are extremely strong rallying points and insanely large groups come together. Which is why, as soon as the gentry moves into an area the nobility have to actually order someone to go clean up the worst mess – until then they can just shrug it off. Even in a democracy municipal administrations are swayed more easily by those who have access and use their access to media, politicians etc. And then there is how this is race-based: immigrants and minorities are disproportionately found among the working class rather than the middle class. That is due to a number of factors, social dynamics excluding some groups from many opportunities, but in the end, it is a divide that means immigrants, the poor working class, non-whites, non-christians are in their bulk excluded from many of the spoils of living in the rich first world.
    That is, broadly put, one of the key dynamics of systemic racism. Germany is no better than the UK, just that the main group here would be Muslims, although I know black people are treated little better than on the isles.
    Many people seem to assume racism is when you have an intention to be racist, when you have an intention to exclude other racial groups. It isn’t, racism is when you exclude other racial groups, intentional or not. There may be a moral nuance to observe, but the outcome is all the same. Bottom line of all this winding commentary: gentrification may be a socio-economic dynamic first, but it is a part of a racially stacked socio-economic system and in its effect racist.

    Trevor Noah summed this up more entertainingly than I will ever be able to:

    • December 12, 2014 / 11:06 am

      And Matthias wins girlwiththafro’s comment of the year. As you said- it’s not about whether I am deep down racist or not. I could be. But the point is that I actually haven’t WRITTEN anything racist. It’s all a bunch of hurt feelings and whatnot instead of adderessing what I actually wrote and bothering to do the teensiest bit of googling on gentrification and race. Thank you Matthias.

  25. December 12, 2014 / 1:35 pm

    Don’t forget Tottenham – gentrifying at breathtaking speed. The hardcore group at the centre of the council which creates all policy, is on record as saying that there is too much council housing in Tottenham, the only answer to our problems (translate=punishment for the riots) is to encourage more owner-occupiers. So huge chunks are marked up for demolition (“regeneration”). No-one seems to know where the displaced tenants will go, though some will be in BTL new flats owned by Russian and Chinese billionaires. Plus Qataris, Boris’ new bessie mates.

  26. December 13, 2014 / 9:07 am

    Great article and a topic I have talked about for some years now.
    But what I would like to add is London is changing rapidly and there is big money coming in. Sadly those bringing the money have a preference for the type of people they want to live amongst. So without going into too much detail I will say money talks……..

  27. December 13, 2014 / 9:21 am

    It is most definitely a colour issue especially with Russians and Eastern Europeans there are many examples of them expressing this fact sadly

  28. Joseph Otieno
    December 14, 2014 / 3:15 pm

    I am sure the writer has done her research into this article. What I would have liked to see in her article is the immigration of black from the city to the outskirts of London for example, Croydon is populated by black people, and many are buying houses in Essesx, Middlesex and many others. The question of labeling Black people lazy I do not agree with however black people should challenge it by owning our own businesses, media, schools and our own banks.

  29. Mae
    December 14, 2014 / 7:05 pm

    A) saying that you don’t like the “abundance of white faces” just completely detracts from your point – this shouldn’t be about what colour anyones face is. everyone should be allowed to go to brixton and enjoy all that it has to offer no matter what race they are. the wealth of different cultures is what makes brixton such a great place. the problem is economic. obviously there is a link between race and class in this country that desperately needs to be addressed. gentrification is an economic problem. the fact that you are statistically signifcantly more likely to be poor if you are non-white is a problem. but by saying you don’t like the fact that there are lots of white people in brixton you are just insulting a lot of people instead of addressing the real problems. B) your links to race relations in the US are questionable. whilst there are obviously some parallels in terms of how certain things manifest themselves America has a very different history and the problems of racism are engrained in very different ways than they are here. obviously there are issues in both countries but you should be careful when directly comparing them in that way because whilst both exist they are different and therefore the ways of addressing those issues must be different in order to be effective. C) i find your argument slightly bizarre because you are saying you dislike gentrification but then you are going to brixton to eat ‘vegan cupackes’ describing yourself as a ‘wannabe hipster’ whilst complaining that yuppies are taking over brixton?

  30. Toussaint Igort
    December 14, 2014 / 9:25 pm

    Race is the greatest measure of class…..even poor, disenfranchised Whites know that. Gentrification reveals, just how powerless Black people are, in the home of democracy.

  31. December 15, 2014 / 12:49 am

    I found some aspects of this racist.

    Many comments have covered this already but I just wanted to try and explain why.

    It’s an interesting piece but it’s a pretty obvious thing to say ‘there are more white people in this area now’, but I don’t think it’s exclusively a race issue at all. There are plenty of poor people of every race in England. rising prices push everyone out but it’s also inevitable. I don’t know anyone who can afford a house on ‘cheap street’ . I think it’s dangerous to take broad and sweeping economic issues which affect everyone and simplify it by saying it’s a race issue.

    My definition of racism includes mixing up things which are cultural or learned with things that are encoded in genes.

    I agree with much of the article, and there is a huge amount of poverty but it’s just really important to distinguish between ‘this is happening because someone IS certain colour’ and ‘this is happening AND this person is a certain colour’. If it’s not articulated, lazy and dangerous correlations are made which may not be directly linked at all. I’m talking about more than Brixton here. I’m aware that this is an important point to get right, so I’ll illustrate it with an example.

    I’ve just moved from London to Australia, and here is Australia there are big differences between health outcomes for ‘indigenous’ people and ‘non-indigenous’.

    The cause of these differences is complex. One factor is undoubtedly a historical attitude of some ‘non-indigenous’ people towards indigenous people – which I would personally label as racist.

    That has had cultural implications, which means that for hugely complex reasons, health outcomes are worse for indigenous people. This is very different from simply saying ‘health outcomes are worse BECAUSE they are indigenous’ as that misses out the cause, which is not (in my opinion) dictated by genetics (although naturally all people have genetic predispositions to certain things – that’s a totally different debate).

    So it’s fairer to say ‘health outcomes are worse with indigenous people’ and ask, scientifically ‘why’.

    I think the author of this piece is seeing something quite obvious, like the color of people’s faces a change in the average rental price and is implying it’s connected to racism, which it may be – but it’s more complicated than that and affects people of many races. This article frames and focuses in but stays silent on a bigger picture.

    The danger of this is that it reinforces a narrative to people that race does matter, which, naturally, it doesn’t at all.

    I agree with the conclusion ‘certain groups having access from birth to privileges that others grapple to get’ – that’s been a problem with society for ever and will be forever. I challenge that it’s only a problem for certain races and it’s offensive and simplistic to imply or generalise that one race has it easy and another hard.

    One of the comments on this post [Tim] actually says ‘The language being used about the subject does seem somewhat reminiscent of racist rhetoric from the past’

    The debate is essential, but it is much the richer for not cutting corners, not simplifying and making assumptions.

    I hope this makes sense and would love to hear from people to help me express this better if I’ve not done a good job.

    December 15, 2014 / 1:30 pm

    Thank you ‘girlwithafro’ for so eloquently and (yes, diplomatically) saying what a lot of us know to be the bold truth about what has happened to close on every cornerstone of conspicuous Black residency in London. Peckham and Harlesden are just the latest on a targeted ‘hit list’ that has in the past two and a half decades seen the likes of Brixton, Tulse Hill, Balham, Tooting, Clapham Junction, Battersea, New Cross, Deptford, Lewisham, Brockley, Catford, Elephant & Castle, Camberwell (south of the river), Ladbroke Grove, Shepherds Bush, Paddington (west), Queens Park, Kensal Rise, Kilburn (north-west), Stoke Newington, Finsbury Park, Hackney, Clapton, Dalston (north-east and east); that’s 27 areas I’ve highlighted thus far, with another well-known part of London north of the river looking the next to fall to the gentrification grim reaper! The ‘faux integration’ you refer to here in describing our wonderful melting pot here in London is indeed nothing more than exactly that, a hollow sham of superficiality that further enables and bolsters white privilege at the expense of Black suffering and socio-economic marginalisation while conveniently avoiding the need for addressing the needs of those affected so adversely by its dismal effects. My concern is what bodes for the future of present and future generations of Black residents in London, both in individual terms and as a recognisably cohesive community, particularly where the Black male has become ever more demonised in our society (in which I include myself here, someone of dual African and English heritage)?

  33. Chesham
    December 15, 2014 / 3:03 pm

    Interesting debate. Of course, these things tend to go in cycles. Brixton was a white middle-class suburb in the past. Immigrants from the Caribbean moved into the area – by then down-at-heel – because it was inexpensive and landlords were happy to let to them (which, sadly, was not the case everywhere in London). This has happened in the past in many areas of London with many populations. The Huguenots were succeeded in Spitalfields by Jewish immigrants, whose place was taken more recently by Bangladeshis…and, of course, most recently the middle-class hipsters have moved in.
    This isn’t always simply a case of the poor being pushed out. Often it is the case that more settled immigrant communities have moved out to the suburbs as they have become more prosperous. I suspect that many of the descendants of the first Brixton Caribbean settlers now live in Streatham, or Croydon, or Bromley. In the same way that the Jews moved out to more prosperous areas. And, indeed, the poorer white community of the East End found its way to East Ham, Barking, Romford and beyond into Essex.
    Population change is inevitable, especially now that London property prices have risen to such ridiculous heights. It’s not the rich who started the move to Brixton. They were populating another gentrified area, Notting Hill (where I used to live), years earlier. It’s about affordability. Hence when my daughter wanted to buy a small home last year (and she, sadly, is not rich but is on a very modest salary), she chose Brixton.
    When I visit, I see white faces, sure, but I also see black faces. My daughter loves Brixton for its cosmopolitanism (and Tube station) and so do I. In the meantime, I live in Penge…further out of central London, but the gentrification discussion has begun there too. Watch this space…

  34. AM
    December 15, 2014 / 7:28 pm

    Hi, I’d just like to say that if as a white person you do not yet recognise that you have been privileged by institutionalized-racism in almost every aspect of your life (education, work, healthcare, housing, relationships with the police etc.) then you are not only failing to be a self-aware person, you are also a huge part of the problem of racism in this country. As a young, white woman it drives me completely mad that anyone would read Girl with Afro’s smart, thoughtful post and cry ‘reverse racism’. Grow up. Acknowledge your privilege. Learn to fight your privilege.

  35. Dalgawe
    December 16, 2014 / 10:40 pm

    This is a thought provoking and well written blog. I have read with interest the replies, and especially agreed with Matthias but as a white 40 something who has lived in streatham, west Norwood and now Penge. Gentrification seems to be happening everywhere some parts of it are good (like seemingly less crime, cleaner streets, different mix of shops) but mostly it’s not good (house prices becoming unobtainable for most locals, loss of culture, loss of a more diverse mix of class, loss of practical, cheaper shops etc.)

    I think Penge is a fantastic place to live but it’s getting so expensive to buy here now. I wouldn’t want to see much more gentrification here – please stop!

    Now race is a different issue, that does have some connection. From working in the city for over 20 years I have seen racism towards people who aren’t white and I’m intelligent enough to know its a complex issue that IS improving but has a long way to go. What I hate is ignorance and closed minds. Those who pidgeon hole groups of people and base their perceptions on what they are told or read/watch instead of looking around and seeing it for themselves.

    I love Brixton’s culture and vibrancy. The tube station has already lost its wonderful, sometimes annoying but always vibrant characters who brought it to life – walking out of it always left me with a smile. Now it’s like every other station. I still can’t pass the Portuguese deli without buying something delicious and I still love the markets. I think some of it’s “character” is being lost. Gentrification causes BLANDNESS and pushes out Working class people which also takes away some of the older communities including the vibrancy and diversity in class and culture. I love warm communities, families who have ambition, pride, don’t “pussy foot” around issues, love exploring different cultures, embrace new ideas and most of all don’t “judge” on looks or class as much as their personality or perceptions.

    Anyway – thank you THATGIRLWITHTHAFRO!

  36. December 17, 2014 / 7:05 am

    When you and you middle class friends go to do middle class stuff with middle class hipsters, I think you’re part of the problem. You’re a rich girl from a rich family. The amount you spent on your hipster day out would probably have accounted for most of my week’s food budget when I was unemployed.

    The poor are working class. Most of them aren’t interested in Afro Hair festivals. If you are, then great! But don’t expect the working classes to provide them for your amusement. This is a middle class cultural thing. You want a place to me more suitable for poor people? Kick all the trendy hipsterish stuff out. Provide stuff that working classes can afford. But do you want that? To me it looks like all you’re after is a theme park showing a romanticised version of a Brixton that never was.

    • December 17, 2014 / 10:18 am

      poor black people aren’t interested in hair festivals? huh? Just out of interest, are you black? Because it’s well known that black women regardless of income spend a considerable amount on their hair in comparison to other races, and also that black hair shows/festivals etc are frequented by lots of them. Not sure where you got that from.
      I’m not rich btw. I am relatively well off compared to some, but rich is proba an overstatement. Nevertheless, yes, I do have the privilege of being able to experience more of the pros of gentrification w/out the cons.

      As I said in the blog, I acknowledge this, and I would like for people who havd lived snd worked in these areas to continue living and working there. I’m
      saying that whatever pros there are for me, they are outweighed by the cons for those people.

      • December 17, 2014 / 8:51 pm

        I was a bit out of line there. I don’t know enough about you to be so critical so I apologise.

  37. December 22, 2014 / 9:24 pm

    This is such a fantastic post. Unfortunate that with gentrification comes far worse segregation; alienating people in their own neighbourhoods. So sad.

    Loving the blog, girl with an afro!

  38. Bridgita
    June 8, 2015 / 6:12 pm

    What a racist article! Also LEWISHAM hasn’t changed in the thirty years I’ve lived here, OK some new flats, same old people hanging round the centre. Waitrose in Catford I’d love it, about time the scruffy revolting dump was ‘gentrified’. Oh and apologies for my white face.

  39. TechGirl
    June 13, 2015 / 3:40 pm

    Interesting post, I came across this blog when I was searching about gentrification in Brixton.

    I can’t help adding my own experience in Brixton as non white, non black.
    I am originally from Far East living in south London for nearly 10 years, recently managed to purchase a family house with my white English husband near Brixton. ( could not afford a same size property near wandsworth common where we owned a flat ) We are both mid 30’s working in tech industry.

    We always go to Brixton for light entertainment since relocation. My favorite is brixton village, roof top bar & the recent addition, Pop Brixton is good fun too.
    I am getting too old for DogStar, unfortunately.

    I am not trying to ignore history, I am acknowledging racism myself, heard few negative comments about my ethnicity, which I don’t care.
    I just want fun time when I am out, possibly try new food at cool place where I feel relaxed. Brixton village satisfies the crave nicely.
    I guess I am qualified to be part of the SECOND wave in Brixton. ( ref: aquaticbarefoot’s comment )

    What you currently see in Brixton is capitalism, not racism as some people commented already. That is what gentrification generally brings and it looks more obvious in London as a capital.
    People stays in Brixton because they can afford regardless of skin color, they would have no options but moving to different area without sufficient resource no matter how much they are attached to the area, same as we moved out of wandsworth common. This is a part of big chain cascading down from top of the pyramid.

    You can’t have your cake and eat it as English people says 🙂

  40. WorkingMan
    September 27, 2015 / 7:36 pm

    You seem to not understand that oppression existed in this country long before black and brown people came to these shores. White privilege exists in the USA, but here in the UK it is class privilege, it always has been.

    When the Normans invaded England almost 1000 years ago, it was the poor (white English) who were treated like 2nd class citizens. We had a French speaking upper class and poor English serfs who barely eked out a living. Our ancestors were not allowed to hunt on lands that were seized by the Norman barons, so poor English families starved. Anyone caught hunting on these lands was executed. We had poor hungry whites being shipped to Australia or hanged for stealing bread, children working and dying in mines and factories and a generation of young white working class men wiped out in WW1.

    Try telling these people they had privileges because of the color of their skin and they would rightly laugh at you. The human rights that Afro-Caribbean and Asian people enjoy in this country have been fought for and won by suffering working class and poor whites against a brutal white upper class.

    You seem to be more concerned about the ethnic make up of the people moving in to Brixton, instead of gentrification itself. Your argument would be better served focusing on class, rather than race.

    There were a lot of complaints about black and brown faces moving into South, East and West London during the sixties and seventies and the people who made these complaints were always called “racists.” and “bigots.” Therefore I think it is fair to say you fit into this category, and yes before you say anything, black and brown people can be racist. Equality isn’t just about having the same rights as other people, it’s also about having the same level of accountability as the rest of us as well.

    • September 28, 2015 / 6:31 am

      The fact that you seem to believe that white privilege exists in the US but not the UK shows me that you likely don’t understand what ‘white privilege’ actually means. And frankly, I find it quite insulting when white people (I’m assuming you are, but if you’re not my comment still stands) comment on something I’ve written and are so arrogant that they can’t be bothered to do any background reading and completely ignore the work of any academic on the subject, in order to patronisingly give me a definition of ‘racism’ or ‘bigotry’. There are lots of articles on gentrification, explaining how class and race interact uniquely in these situations.
      Lastly, any idea that the white working class in this country are some sort of champions of racial equality that black people should be grateful to, is frankly, laughable. Racism is just as rife amongst the white working class as anywhere else. If anything, white working class racism is a way for them to establish some sort of status in a hierarchy when they are usually at the bottom of the pile. Your comment just isn’t based on any kind of reality or backed up by any kind of research. Thanks for sharing your thoughts though!

    • September 28, 2015 / 1:57 pm

      black and brown faces? Is that the same as white and pink? You really out of touch with reality and your comment is clearly just to have a laugh.

  41. MrPix
    November 2, 2015 / 8:09 pm

    Well you have no right to complain, in the 70s working class white English folk probably passed through Brixton thinking “am I in England or the Caribbean”. Things change get over it darling, after all white people are always told to. And please remember this is EUROPE, and who the naitves of ths continent are.

    • December 14, 2015 / 11:03 pm

      Contradiction if I ever saw one. “Things change” but to remember who the “natives” are.

  42. Jo-ann
    December 14, 2015 / 10:21 pm

    Harlesden is rough as a dogs arse. It’s as skid row as it gets, junkies and hookers begging for money on the street corner, then harassing you if you don’t give them a quid. Polish and Jamaican men drinking booze outside the bookies until midnight. Kids from the estates dumping their fried chicken containers on the street they live in, dealing drugs. Stabbings every other week. And all the “cultural melting pot” stuff is a load of crap. More often than not, there’s a black woman rowing with a Polish man, or a Romanian man arguing with a Somailian, and so on and on. I should know. I live here. I grew up in Kensal Green 20 years ago, with Caribbean, Irish, Filipino and Portuguese/Spanish for neighbours, and can see the effects of gentrification, it’s 95% white middle class there now, with outrageous house prices to match, which is why I was forced to move to Harlesden, and I can’t wait to get out. This place is grim.

  43. Bleak
    December 14, 2015 / 10:34 pm

    Harlesden is rough and hasn’t been “gentirfied” quite as easily as the estate agents were hoping. The Costa Coffee on the high street signals some sort of change, I bet they’re hoping. Truly, it’s as skid row as it gets, junkies and hookers begging for money on the street corner, then harassing you if you don’t give them a quid. Polish and Jamaican men drinking booze outside the bookies until midnight. Kids from the estates dumping their fried chicken containers on the street they live in, dealing drugs. Stabbings every other week. Garbage on every street corner (they found some animal lungs in the street the other day, thankfully not human). And all the “cultural melting pot” stuff is a load of crap. More often than not, there’s a black woman rowing with a Polish man (just this eve, this happened outside my living room window: a black woman saying she grew up here, and that the foreign person she was arguing with was “racist”), or a Romanian man arguing with a Somailian, and so on and on. I should know. I live here. I grew up in Kensal Green 20 years ago, with Caribbean, Irish, Filipino and Portuguese/Spanish for neighbours, and can see the effects of gentrification, it’s 95% white middle class there now, with outrageous house prices to match, which is why I was forced to move to Harlesden, and I can’t wait to get out. This place is grim.

  44. December 14, 2015 / 11:00 pm

    This is a very good article and an even better comments conversation. Healthy discussion. Having grown up / lived in Brent most of my life I had to chuckle when a white English friend from outside of London who recently moved to Peckham remarked at what a s**thole Wembley is. His view of Peckham probably differs quite a lot from mine.

    I mean I don’t know what are worse, chicken shops in Harlesden or Costa coffee shops in Brixton? I think the homogenisation of an area is usually unhealthy, I would say that Harlesden does surass Brixton for diversity and choice(s) of lifestyle – partly as the cost of living in those gentrified areas affords fewer choices – chicken shops can’t afford the rent.

    Culture is a volatile and fluid concept, though I would have to agree with the writer that this posh hipster / farmer crusade in the city is being spearheaded by white folk with significant capital. It is definitely a question of race as the upper (middle) classes are leading this gentrification as they happen to be the largest landowners and owners of capital. That doesn’t mean that all white people live this lifestyle. We should also remember, however, that property in London is an international commodity (given the tax incentives), so the people of Brixton are not only competing with rich white folk but other rich folk from the Middle East and Russia (just but a few).

  45. December 14, 2015 / 11:14 pm

    This is a very good article and an even better comments conversation. Very healthy discussion. Having lived in Brent most of my life I had to chuckle when a white friend from outside of London who recently moved to Peckham remarked at what a s**thole Harlesden is. How fortunes change (or not), depending on what you value in an area. I mean I don’t know what are worse, chicken shops in Harlesden or Costa coffee houses in Peckham? I think the homogenisation of an area is usually unhealthy, I would say that Harlesden trumps Peckham – partly as the cost of living is more affordable which encourages more diversity and choice of lifestyles – chicken shops can afford the rent – increasingly difficult in Angel or Brixton.

    It is very hard not to remove race from the equation in this article. White people as the main owners of capital are leading gentrification. Of course, London is a global city with tax incentives for foreign house buyers (especially oil and property tycoons from the Gulf and Russia). Also, many working class people are white and not on the property ladder or whom have been pushed out of gentrified neighbourhoods.

  46. richmonde
    January 5, 2016 / 1:05 pm

    30 years ago in Hackney there were more grass roots attempts at integration – they may have been a bit patronising, but at least they were there! Local initiatives to improve the area, street festivals and fairs in parks, stalls, sharing food and music. These days diff cultures seem to do there own and there isn’t much mixing. (All I ever did was sing Beatles songs and eat the food.) If the Labour Party want to work locally perhaps they cd get this stuff going again.

  47. Oh dear
    February 23, 2016 / 2:40 am

    This is a great article and both the OP and Mattais have explained in quite some detail now how race and class are intrinsically linked, and that gentrification hits those underrepresented in positions of power, the hardest, therefore the dynamics of racism really needs to be understood before it is used as an accusatory word.

    I came to this blog googling gentrification in Brixton after having an unpleasant experience amongst ‘the white faces’ of Brixton Village with my Cameroonian boyfriend. I am an Afro- Carib Brit. Having last been there about a decade before, shocked by the changes, liking the ‘vegan cupcake’ aesthetic, I was still, after all this, made to feel like I don;t belong. This is very much a white middle class thing, because I have experienced that same ‘look down at feet’, stares, distasteful expressions in Forest Hill, Dalston and even Lewisham most recently, by the same type of persons.

    They come with their wealth and unnecessary attitude, particularly as they’ll be the first to profess diversity. Diversity, I’d like to add is more than having an abundance of culturally diverse eateries to choose from and actually includes more than a handful of culturally diverse friends, respecting them and their origins. Diversity can only be accepted with the mindset of Integration not Privilege.

    And I say this as a Black female, privately educated in an all white school. I too, just as the OP grew up in a Victorian house (near Catford), not flat and realize I am more fortunate than some. So it completely baffles me, why I ought to be looked down upon especially by new comers. Seriously, the thought of me looking my nose down at anyone just wouldn’t cross my mind, even though I own properties, that ( if they were in Brixton), they would be renting….

    Last time I checked, Black people have no economic nor political power, thus no privilege as a collective and we never did when we arrived, so the argument that we caused the gentrification of Brixton in the 50’s and 60’s is just silly. When you show me stats that suggest our arrival raised house prices that displaced the indigenous whites, Tim, then we can call it a reversal of current gentrification. Whites chose to move because they didn’t like Black people. Period. I hope this is abundantly clear.

    I actually like that Brixton is cleaned up, the quirky cafes and hipster wealth, I simply do not like the attitude that comes with some of these people. Pls learn to integrate and be respectful. Thanks. Pls also understand that dissecting and discussing all the complexities to do with racism, classism and gentrification is actually taking a step toward a solution.

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