More recently, (Sharon) Zukin published a book called Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places, which explored how New York City has become a shell of its once diverse and working self, into something resembling a museum. The old tenements of the Lower East Side have been retained to appear rugged; Old shop signs are left up, distressed brick remains, but wine bars and locavore restaurants pop up inside them. She argues there is a façade of authenticity, but it is a skewed one in which the City of Utility has been reframed and fetishized for the sake of leisure.
I am not one to reject culture shifts or shame “bourgeois” tastes, but as a city transforms to a place of people with a singular income bracket, the promise of diversity dissipates. It becomes inaccessible to most of the nation’s population. Sure, New York City or Toronto might be the sort of urban ideal which many cities want to model themselves after, but what good is this model if that city will inevitably become inaccessible to the majority of the nation’s population? I do not want to live in a city that only appears urban.
It’s not quite so recent, but Jessica of highmindedwords wrote a great entry called “Offbeat, Missing Music — Missing The Rhythm“:
The cultural implications to missing our music are troubling, at least to me. Black communities began to produce and popularize music genres they invented such as Rock, Hip-Hop, Doo-Wop, Jazz, Bluegrass, Salsa, Samba, Rumba and the Blues as a way to create a safe space within their communities where social and emotional freedom could exist. The two most important ingredients of our music were improvisation and story telling. Now our stories are being re-written and re-sung without the necessary intent it takes for them to be heard and improvisation is, sadly, resigned to Hip-Hop which every year receives more criticism from the community that created it because it demeans the people it came from. Our expectations for our music are not at the forefront of concerns when that music is in production and if you happen to be a person that feels that, “Music genres don’t belong to anyone, they just are.” You must have missed the memo that the country music community sent out about being confused about there being 3 too many African-American country music singers floating around. But in the end, history is history and the present likes to pretend that history does not deserve a nod in the rolling credits.
In general, her blog features some very keen and insightful writing on race.