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Derek Hyra with Race, Class, and Politics in the Cappuccino City (A Bridge Builder Event)
September 26, 2018
Derek S. Hyra is associate professor in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at American University. He is the author of The New Urban Renewal: The Economic Transformation of Harlem and Bronzeville, also published by the University of Chicago Press.
About Race, Class, and Politics in the Cappuccino City
For long-time residents of Washington, DC’s Shaw/U Street, the neighborhood has become almost unrecognizable in recent years. Where the city’s most infamous open-air drug market once stood, a farmers’ market now sells grass-fed beef and homemade duck egg ravioli. On the corner where AM.PM carryout used to dish out soul food, a new establishment markets its $28 foie gras burger. Shaw is experiencing a dramatic transformation, from “ghetto” to “gilded ghetto,” where white newcomers are rehabbing homes, developing dog parks, and paving the way for a third wave coffee shop on nearly every block.
Race, Class, and Politics in the Cappuccino City is an in-depth ethnography of this gilded ghetto. Derek S. Hyra captures here a quickly gentrifying space in which long-time black residents are joined, and variously displaced, by an influx of young, white, relatively wealthy, and/or gay professionals who, in part as a result of global economic forces and the recent development of central business districts, have returned to the cities earlier generations fled decades ago. As a result, America is witnessing the emergence of what Hyra calls “cappuccino cities.” A cappuccino has essentially the same ingredients as a cup of coffee with milk, but is considered upscale, and is double the price. In Hyra’s cappuccino city, the black inner-city neighborhood undergoes enormous transformations and becomes racially “lighter” and more expensive by the year.