“The Native Americans Were Here First”: Against the Colonial Logic of Gentrification

An excellent history.

Maga__ Barrios


Some time in college, or high school (idk what they teach at white middle class HS’s), it seems today’s gentle gentrifier learned that across the United States, Native American people were (mostly) displaced from the land they once inhabited by settler-colonialists. If they had a liberal arts education such as the one offered at places like UC Santa Cruz they may even say things like:

“The Native Americans were here first, then the Spaniards, etc. Many places in Oakland — e..g, Temescal and Mosswood — were predominantly Italian American neighborhoods before they became African American. By your logic, African Americans in Temescal are ‘gentrifiers’.”

They proceed to pat themselves on the back for their application of theories of intersectionality, their ability(ies) to summon critical race and ethnic frameworks of sorts via educations in urban planning and public policy, history, politics, or some discipline with the word “critical” in the name…

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