by Jennifer Vo-Nguyen
I’ve lived in NE Portland for my entire 22 years of life. I remember when I was little, my neighborhood consisted of mostly African Americans and Latino families. The entire apartment complex that’s right next to my house mainly consisted of African Americans whom my siblings and I made friends with and invited over to our house. My entire neighborhood was filled with black-owned businesses like barber shops, bars, and little convenient shops. But as of today, all of that is gone.
It wasn’t until recently that my siblings and I became old enough to fully grasp the concept of gentrification, especially because we watched it unfold right before our eyes. We had a conversation about how our neighborhood quietly transformed so much throughout the years but we didn’t notice it until now. The apartments next to my house are now inhabited by mostly white people, the only black neighbors I have are the people right across from my house, who have a huge, colorful mural of Prince painted on their garage. The convenience store that was once owned by a black family has turned into a “hipster” brunch restaurant.
It’s very sad to see the community of people that I grew up with slowly disappear. I honestly don’t feel like this is my neighborhood anymore. It’s not the NE Portland that I know. On a positive note, I’ve done research and found that there has been lots of work being done to try to de-gentrify my neighborhood. But I hope the issue of gentrification in Portland gets brought up more in conversations because it’s moving our city in the wrong direction and needs to be addressed.