Gentrification exists and it’s relentless, rapidly unrolling like a plague, especially in our classic black areas. We see it on TV, hear about it everywhere these days, and see it happening right in front of our faces. Though, it doesn’t mean all hope is lost. WE FIGHT to take back. These are our communities we see being swept from under our feet. Sadly, but in most cases, the capability is always there (because we are capable if you didn’t know), but the resources are either few and far between, we don’t apply ourselves accordingly, or we were never taught the tools.
Desmonde Shalom Monroe has done just that, created his own toolbox, playing by his own rules, and putting on his boxing gloves to save our neighborhoods. You can help too. Monroe is a resource you can use and he’s equipped to win. Monroe let The Quintessential Gentleman in on who he is crediting for his success, which he gives to his mother for everything that he is. He said, “She always told me that in America, I will always be a black man and because of that, I have to be stronger, faster, smarter than everybody else. She equipped me with resources and things to get me to where I am today. I think I am a byproduct of my mom and because of that, I care about my community and I care about my other black and brown people, to actually teach them and let them know that they have to be faster, stronger and smarter than everybody else.”
In case you’re wondering, Mr. Desmonde Shalom Monroe is the President and CEO of The Monroe Group, LLC. He is active in his community of Brooklyn and focused on organizations involved in urban development and growth. Monroe listens and cares about the citizen. He has heard, “You’re rebuilding communities and you’re making them more resilient, but you’re also caring about the people.” He hears their stories. Monroe states, “I’m rebuilding communities for the people who are there. So, I’m asking them, ‘How do you want your community back?’ Then, I rebuild it. It’s how do you want it, then doing it. That’s something different that developers and a lot of people don’t do, not even our government. I would love to see more of that and I’m sure it will happen, but right now we’re doing it.”
Gentrification is best quoted by Mr. Monroe as, “Pricing you out of your neighborhood.” They buy up properties and start pricing up rent, where people can’t do it. This is targeted at minorities. As Monroe made a point saying, “Then you start seeing people who no longer look like you come in and then rents go up, because it’s like, ‘Oh, white people are moving in, so let’s raise the rent.’”
He doesn’t mean that people of color don’t have the money to afford it. However, there is a trick. The marketing is not to people of color who would come here and buy homes. It’s not the cost we can’t afford. Monroe said, “They come in and just completely change the culture and change what it was to be here.” It’s the feeling of losing our culture we won’t buy into and hints at why gentrification exists. “There are different communities based on people of color who came there and put culture in their food, their spirit, into art and their craft and then it’s just moved out for some artist in Trader Joe’s.”
This didn’t happen so abruptly; it’s been shifting for a long time now. Desmonde believes the shift happened, “I can say in New York, it was 2007, 2008 because they started renaming the streets. They started changing names, they started bringing in other people, they started marketing it differently, and then we saw other people coming into the neighborhood.”