Another hipster flag has been hoisted in Highland Park, a traditionally-Hispanic neighborhood in Northeast Los Angeles that is rapidly gentrifying. This one is a sign that says “Highland Park” in the style of old-Hollywood, vintage neon.
A sign of the times © 2016 Dave Getzschman
Sometimes, I leave town for a week, return home to Highland Park, and three new boutique shops will have opened on the main street, selling vintage clothes or hand-crafted knick-knacks or vegetables from a Vitamix.
There are seven bars operating within two blocks. Six of them opened in the last couple years. All cater to the new arrivals, the white kids, with craft beers and fancy appetizers and novelties like shuffleboard.
Stuff white people like. Replacing traditional Hispanic stuff.
Graffiti on the walls of the neighborhood frequently decries the Caucasian invasion with this slogan:
“Gentrification is colonization.”
I don’t dispute it. I am one of the colonizers, pushed East by rising rents. And while I do support the taquerias and panderias and auto body shops owned by the so-called “immigrants” who have actually been here for generations, I definitely indulge in the newer amenities of yoga and lattes and gluten-free, dairy-free pancakes.
Singer-songwriter Mark Kozelek has a unique track about his conflicting feelings regarding a Mexican man whom he hires to fix his house, but in whose deportation he ultimately refuses to intercede.
I respect the honesty, if not the integrity. In some ways, it reflects my own desire to be of support to those who aren’t white, being pushed out by those who are white, while also being white and without support myself. I can’t afford to participate in the Southern California real estate market either.
In the ground war between hipsters and Hispanics, Hispanics are losing their foothold, their businesses, their homes. Ironically, it was two Latino electricians who were paid to erect the hipster-friendly welcome sign I photographed. It sits, unsurprisingly, over a store that sells typewriters. Both are cute and quaint and – like white guilt, I guess – stuff that white people like.