Daveed Diggs Wants to Talk About Gentrifiers

The actor on ownership, policing and his transition from theater to TV.


Comments: 50

  1. Smart guy, esp. the paragraph about policing. Wish he could be President....

  2. He'd be the first Jewish president.

  3. >>> Did those interactions change a lot once you became famous? I don’t have them anymore...I have money, which changes everything.

    Is Mr. Diggs basically acknowledging that it's really about class, not about race?

  4. It's both. Everyone acknowledges that.

  5. I agree about having a more nuanced conversation around gentrification. Most people moving to an area aren't trying to gentrify it - they are trying to find a place to live that they can afford, and that best suits their needs. Many "gentrifiers" are being pushed out of other neighborhoods. There are few places whose "culture" has remained stable over the years, decades, centuries. The conversation should perhaps more focus on intentional raising of rents (perhaps far behind what is necessary due to rising property values/taxes) and the demolition of certain buildings/spaces. But you're not going to be able to stop people from moving, and from caring about where they live. Or from being a part of where they live, from bringing their own culture. We act like that's okay for certain cultures, but not for others.

  6. No. He's saying that when he has a nice car and he's an older guy with nice clothes on and he's living in a nicer neighborhood (while still doing 0 things wrong), he's less likely to get pulled over. He is *still* more likely to get pulled over than the average white man. No one should get pulled over 36 times in 3 years for no reason, and that's not something that can be entirely attributed to class.

  7. Interesting things pop out if you look at the evils of 'gentrification' with actual empirical data.
    From the Economist Magazine last month:
    1. Poor residents in a gentrifying area are LESS likely to move.
    2. Gentrification boosts racial and economic integration for everyone

    In summary - from the Economist: "Gentrification steers cash into deprived neighbourhoods and brings people into depopulated areas through market forces, all without the necessity of governmental intervention."

    Or I guess we could ignore the evidence ala Ta-Nehisi Coates: "Gentrification’ is but a more pleasing name for white supremacy"

  8. Surely, it's wise to keep in mind that gentrification often squashes culture in a way that can't be quantified by the Economist.

  9. Artists moving into a neighborhood is the first step to gentrification.

  10. The property taxes in California won't go up with increased home values because of proposition 13. They won't go up until the house is sold.

  11. Local laws are generally enacted to preserve quality of life and can reasonably limit activities that adversely affect neighbors rights to enjoy the peace and quiet of their homes. It should not matter whether you are a newcomer or long term resident or whether you are a member of the dominant culture or not--the laws and the protections that derive from them apply to everyone. So, if there is loud noise or loud music keeping me awake after a reasonable hour I will call the police. If any individual or group wants to avoid interactions with police the solution is simple; respect the law and respect your neighbors. And please don't tell me to move to the suburbs or another neighborhood. I have the right to live wherever I want and the right to expect that my neighbors will observe the law.

  12. It is more about equal and/or selective policing. It seems only after older communities/neighborhoods (populated by poor/black/brown ...) get gentrified (by rich/pale), the police take enforcing the laws more seriously. Funnily enough, the complainants are usually the newcomers and against the oldsters.

  13. If it's coal BBQ in a non-coal designated area, then yes. Usually it's due to a pollutive issue to surrounding nearby homes of businesses.

  14. "If any individual or group wants to avoid interactions with police the solution is simple; respect the law and respect your neighbors."

    Really now?

    How'd that work out for Trayvon Martin? For the two guys at Starbucks? For the guy shot dead by police in his car, while his girlfriend next to him shot the entire thing on video? How'd that go for the college student who was simply sitting in one of the public areas of the university and where the cops were called by another white female student?

    All of these people were 'respecting the law and respecting their neighbors'. Yet their very skin color did not protect them from 'avoiding interactions' with the police.

  15. The term "gentrification" applies to areas occupied by poor whites (non-minorities) as well as poor minorities.

    What all groups being displaced or impacted by gentrification tend to have in common is not race or ethnicity, but lower income level (or lower socio-economic status).

    Looked at broadly, the issues here are about class (socio-economic status) more than race.

  16. True, but it can't be overlooked that the group that has the most capital in this country are whites, period. The ratio of poor whites to poor people of color? Laughable.

  17. Oh but, as if by mystery and magic, it's the poor Blacks who seem to always bear the brunt of this displacement. And even more mysteriously, Blacks seem to almost always find themselves in the targeted "class". I wonder if there's a...correlation. The enslavement, by law, of millions of people of a certain class, who happened to be...Black, has always struck me as an oddity. It's also an odd coincidence that these same people of a certain "class" weren't allowed to vote until about 50 years ago, and were herded into ghettos and largely blocked for education and employment as a result of there..."class". The odd coincidence is that there were all Black. Bizarre.

  18. For an abbreviated interview, David Diggs comes off as a very thoughtful man, as well as talented. And a calm self assured one: I think I'd be more riled up about the 36 police stops for DWB.

  19. I had the incredible opportunity to see Daveed Diggs’ new film, “Blindspotting, “at the Atlanta film Festival this spring. Along with his friend and co-star Rafael Casal, Diggs has created the best buddy movie I’ve seen in years. But beyond hilarious moments, they also take us to serious moments of social consciousness. What amazed me was how well the film and actors balanced these extremes and kept the audience with them as they explored the complexities of modern culture in the context of a vibrant and changing Oakland.

  20. Proud to call Oakland my hometown. Daveed Diggs is right about all this. I have lived here 41 years and I am white (my children were raised here and they love Oakland for this rich mix of cultures) but I note that many of those who are now moving into town are unfamiliar with the mixture of races in Oakland across the socioeconomic spectrum. Their unfamiliarity with it as a daily experience results in fear of the other. Perhaps that fear is part of the polarization we now see across the country. Saddens me deeply.

  21. Hadn't heard of him before (not fortunate enough to land Hamilton tix!) but based upon this interview, I'm going to see his movie, because I want to hear more of what he has to say! Very insightful and interesting comments on tough topics.

  22. I was speaking to an older black man recently and the conversation wandered to police stopping young black men. This upset him, and I empathized. Not ten minutes later he excitedly told me about the "windfall" he received by buying an expensive rifle at a suspiciously low price from a young man in the neighborhood. I was floored, and more than a little angry. When people talk about certain groups (like young black men) being "policed differently", is it really enough to just complain about it? Or can we discuss why it happens?

  23. What's your point here? That a young black man sold a gun to a neighbor at a "suspiciously low price," therefore he must be a criminal, therefore all young black men might be criminals, and that's why they get policed differently? Sure sounds like that's the point you want to make.

  24. "Gentrification" is another word for change. If you're lucky it becomes "history" in someone's mind. At best it leaves "monuments" like the Last Chance Saloon, or the Reuben sandwich on the menu at the Merritt Diner. I have fond memories of the bread at the Black Muslim Bakery. But it may not be remembered.

  25. [[If there is loud noise or loud music keeping me awake after a reasonable hour I will call the police. If any individual or group wants to avoid interactions with police the solution is simple; respect the law and respect your neighbors.]]

    I had a neighbor who was wildly inconsiderate. Knocking on his door and asking for quiet got me nowhere, so I began calling the cops. Interestingly, one of the first times I did the cop said "Call every time. Don't hesitate. People like that don't respond to politeness. We'll write tickets on him for disturbing the peace."

    Eventually, the guy moved.

  26. i cant understand why im listening to someone playing music 2 blocks away ..... never works to ask for less noise. i always call the cops - any time of day. collect 10 bucks from the invited guests and rent a hall if you want a loud party.
    having lived in a certain neighborhood doesn't give you the right to disturb 'newcomers' it's a simple case of the golden rule

  27. "When I moved to New York, I moved to Washington Heights, because it’s where I could afford."
    Really, that's it? There are SO many more affordable areas. You moved there because you had the money and thought it was a nice/cool/interesting/convenient/safe and getting safer neighborhood. This is so disingenuous and a rallying cry for ambivalent/"woke" gentrifiers. If I've heard it from well-educated, well-employed people once, I've heard it a million times. "We moved here because we can't afford not to fuel gentrification and to displace poor people". No. It is not complicated and you haven't shed light on any complexity. We all know the BBQ Becky's don't have to be new to town. They've been calling the cops and creating nuisances/policing/holding court right where they're from. Policing has been going on- it's not new. You think POC have been flying under the police radar in Oakland prior to gentrifiers? What is new is what you are fueling- fancy people moving to gentrification ground zero and thereby supercharging rent increases/evictions etc.

  28. As someone who will more than likely be accused of gentrification as it becomes obvious that this is now finally happening here ... I moved into a neighborhood rife with poverty and crime, being broken into while working from home at an advanced age and scared to death; and all the door-to-door scams any "neighbor" could attempt. The only reason I moved here was that THIS was all I could afford to avoid paying an arm and a leg each month to landlords while maintaining a commutable distance for my caretaker son. This was just over 6 years ago.

    My son has been pulled over over a dozen times at the entrance to our neighborhood. They thought he was looking to buy drugs or hookers.

    Granted, there were a few other poor white families already here ... almost all left over from before the last downturn of the economy when the neighborhood was experiencing better days.

    Originally from NYC, I'm accustomed to racial diversity. I take pleasure in working with ALL my neighbors to make this a better place ... including both young and elderly white, hispanic and black neighbors. We get together for barbeques and parties. We share our laments about the inadequate policing in our area.

    I've found that neighborhoods rise in fortune and fall, just like most people. I'm hoping against hope that this particular area isn't marked for true "gentrification," but I am already seeing the signs ... my mortgage went up over $150 since my home's last valuation. I was able to fight it ... for now.

  29. In the class not race claim, "class” doesn’t actually mean “class” in the commonly understood sense. Racist don’t mean social position, socio-economic status or your achieved position in free, democratic and meritocratic society. If that was the intended meaning of class, that would be almost as damning of America as race. Enslaving, terrorizing, abusing, excluding and hyper incarcerating people of a lower class isn’t good either. But here, class means individual or group actions and inactions. Blacks are treated badly because of what they do/don’t do, not because of who they are. That absolves whites of all responsibility. If those people acted differently we wouldn’t do what we do to them. There lies the slight of hand in the “class not race” comment.

  30. While demonizing bbq Becky seems to be fashionable this week, it is important to note that Lake Merritt is the oldest bird sanctuary in the nation. We haul between 1,000 and 6,000 pounds of trash out of the lake each and every MONTH! Oakland collectively dumps around 300,000 pounds of trash into the bay each year. These staggering figures are worth considering before hauling lawn furniture and bbq pits to a bird sanctuary for an afternoon by the lake.

  31. @Melissa Julien
    If Becky didn't report them for dumping into the lake or littering she had no reason to call the police, did she?

    If you want to address the real issues with barbecues in a bird sanctuary, which are noise and pollution, petition to make barbecuing illegal in the sanctuary.

  32. Mr Diggs was fantastic in "Hamilton." He captured the essence of old TJ perfectly in a loud purple velvet suit and a pimp walk. Bravo!

  33. I imagine it was close to his job on Broadway and he didn't want to live in an outerborough because of commute time. Could be just my imagination runnin' away with me and that's the only co-opting I can afford.

  34. The fact of the interactions in the first instance show it's all, and always, about race. Also, you missed the part where he talked about knowing/learning he would be policed differently. In any case, you knew all that already. But the push to pretend racism doesn't exist will continue. The explicitly race based slave system (245 years of it), the 100 years of de jure and de facto race based Jim Crow which excluded Blacks (regardless of "class") from voting, working, living where the wishes, marrying who they loved etc., and all of the terror and exclusion that followed, based on race told you that. In fact, racial exclusion is written into our founding document. Ignorance is not bliss. It's just ignorance. Even if it's willful.

  35. I'm a middle-aged white woman (albeit a 'youthful' one ;-), and I guess I could be considered a gentrifier insofar as... I have a certain level of education/income, and I've tended to move to various NYC neighborhoods before they were popular, and then... boom!

    I always like to say that I'm different from 'those other people' who move into previously undesirable neighborhoods, the reason being that... many times these people come from one already-hip neighborhood to one that is just starting to become 'cool'. These people (typically white) also seem to wait until there are 'enough people like themselves' in the other neighborhood, before they consider it 'safe enough' for them to live there. This is, even though many of these neighborhoods already had low crime rates, but relatively few white faces living there.

    Your typical gentrifier also wants to perfectly replicate the 'curated' hipster neighborhood from whence they came, and make their new neighborhood a generic, bland clone. They have zero interest in getting to know or interact with the old-timers from the nabe. Zero interest in patronizing the old-school establishments. They also have this air of 'oh, aren't I so cool to have discovered this 'edgy' but great neighborhood in which to live?' When in fact, the neighborhood had been quite long before these newbies came along.

    Red Rooster in Harlem is a popular place for these gentrifiers (and now, tourists) to have their hollow 'kumbaya' moments with black folk.

  36. As my friendo Jack once said..."the one thing money can't buy is poverty." Gentrification might be the one exception to his rule.

  37. What a pleasant, little read!

    Victoria’s spouse

  38. Whites don't call the police on Blacks who are engaged in ordinary activities (bbqing, sitting by the pool etc) because they're not thinking, or because they're ignorant of the consequences. They make those calls precisely because they're thinking ahead and are well aware of the potential outcomes. Humiliation, assault, incarceration, death.

  39. There seems to be no evidence of this level of intent.

    Based on what I have read, it appears these are white people who are afraid of dark skinned (usually, but not always, black) people. They think something bad is going to happen to them because in their minds dark skinned people = dangerous people. What do you do when you are afraid of other people? You call the police.

  40. What people don’t understand or never share or talk about that I have seen is the neighborhood in decline. There always seems to be a bias against people who move into a rough neighborhood and then are blamed because oh my gosh they made it better or a more desirable place to live. If you ever lived in a neighborhood that was getting worse, like I did, you would have welcomed anyone who would make the neighborhood better, whether you call them a hipster or gentrification pioneer or whatever.

  41. I eagerly await the day when Pebble Beach, Ca is required to provide Section 8 housing! In the meantime, I won’t be holding my breath in anticipation.

  42. I think that gentrification is only the superficial problem, and that gentrifiers are only maximizing their own prospects, but they are not evil incarnate.

    The underlying problems have taken decades to develop. Redlining, urban mismanagement, distain for the poor, middle-class flight from old neighborhoods when there was still cheap land to which to move, and abandoning the responsibility of development in favor of the “free market” are historic stepping stones to the gentrification predicament in which we find ourselves now.

    Even when I was in school (which was decades ago) we were taught that American cities were like a photographic negative of European cities, where the concentration of money and power lay in the city center and the suburbs were the left to the less well to do.

    The European model created benefits for cities: better mass transportation, less urban rot, more stability and less displacement, better infrastructure, more aesthetically pleasing cities, more breathing room and living room for the poor, better distribution of services.

    Cities have a lot of problems more important that gentrification. Overcrowding (and overpopulation in general,) the reluctance of city governments to think, to plan and to spend for the future, and our lust for and deification of the Almighty Dollar. Penny pinching in the present exacerbates the problems of the future, but if there is no short-term profit to be made, who cares?

  43. "Photographic negatives." What a fascinating way to compare cities in Europe and those in the United States.

  44. This q & a, and its companion piece, “Oakland in Their Bones,” compelled me to listen once again to a 1955 live recording of the late, great jazz pianist, Sonny Clark, performing in the Mocambo Club, which was located on Franklin Street, near what is now Uptown, Oakland. It’s no longer there. Of course, for better or worse, wasn’t it Gertrude Stein, who said about Oakland, “There is no there, there.”?

  45. I'm guessing this guy is probably a cool smart nice guy so I don't meant throw shade but his, "I'm a gentrifier, but I'm not BBQ Becky, and that is what matters" is so telling. Gentrification is a process that has little to do with BBQ Becky, regardless of the racist context, and consequences, of her call. Gentrification is about capitalism and real estate. A guy with cultural capital and an ivy league degree moving into Washington Heights is the very essence of gentrification. But this article was useful for understanding the real role of the BBQ Beckys of the world: to make "woke" and more hand-writing gentrifiers feel not just okay about their decisions but even righteous about them. They move into the neighborhood. They do what they want to get theirs, and they have some demon to point to, and deplore, in order to make themselves feel better.

  46. I'm a woman living in Brooklyn in her early 30s who is firmly middle class. I live within my means and I move to neighborhoods I can afford, and right now that means living a 50 minute subway ride away in deep Brooklyn. This isn't a ME problem. This is a salary problem, this is a real estate problem, this is a "banks are the only storefronts that can survive in this city" problem. I'm sick of Gentrification being shifted toward the low- to middle-income people who move to the only neighborhoods they can afford.

  47. When we moved into our neighborhood a few years ago we found most people very friendly. Instead of thinking we were gentrfiers the neighbors were worrying about us being "white trash", a term I hate. I thought to myself "really, do you know how much the house cost?" Then I found out they thought we were renters. The guy who sold us a new microwave asked what street I was on and was visibly horrified when we told him. Sometimes I think that gentrication is about finding a really good neighborhood that has a bad reputation and moving there.

  48. From the minute we walked out of Africa, the human race has been migrating. People move. Places change. Neighborhoods. Countries. Continents. Trying to stop it is like trying to stop the tides from claiming the homes along the shoreline. You can do it for a little while. Then, nature just wins.

  49. Gentrifiers/real Estate developers in Harlem constantly using city agencies to push homeowners out. Been in my Harlem home for over 40 years and never had firefighters visit my home and threaten to call the cops on my family if I didn’t let them in. Mind you my home is up to code. However their goal is to hit me with violations and make my life miserable. Don’t believe this is a real threat and these visits are for safety reasons. Well can’t be for my safety when realtors follow up the next day knocking on my door asking me to sell. These people are pure evil!

  50. Lived in Berkeley 3 decades. Now live in Oakland since 2009. The condo unit is 900 ft.². On the edge of downtown. Nine years ago these units were selling for $150,000. They now sell for $525,000. Up till two months ago, there was a homeless village of over 100 tents under a freeway overpass 2 1/2 blocks away. There are often people sleeping in doorways, even in the entrance to our building!
    We like Oakland because of the diversity. Schools have to deal with the fact that there are kids speaking over 20 different languages in the school system.
    A little over 30 years ago, we took in a 14-year-old Black kid from the streets of East Oakland. He not only finished high school, but graduated college as well! We learned as much from him as he did from us.