Through this research process I have learned a lot in regards to my subject and also in terms of the type of time and organization necessary to carry out research. It is also very important to stick to specific questions in order to keep your research focused and coherent. It has made me think a lot about academia and all that is necessary to pursue it. I have enjoyed learning more in depth about the topic and finding new ways and platforms to access data, journals, and articles on this.
I learned a lot about the history of New York City and how policy and a lot of actions undertaken by the government in the latter half of the 20th century led to the creation of New York as we know it today. There is a lot to be said and looked into about the relationship between private interests and government work. Certain policies may seem like a good idea in order to boost an economy or to create a housing boom but what are the real affects on the average citizen? We also discovered information on which the ways neighborhoods may be manipulated into a situation where they can then be “flipped” and gentrified. It’s very interesting to see how a city like New York, which has been long praised for it’s diversity and being a liberal haven, has partaken in discriminatory housing practices, unequal distribution of resources, and placing the needs of corporate interest over the needs of people. One of my favorite parts of this has been connecting the dots of all of this and truly understanding the way in which institutional racism functions and what it entails. Studying the origins of the debt crisis and what the actual factors were and how the Emergency Financial Control Board was instrumental in the rebuilding of New York and what the consequences of that decision were has also been an interesting part of this study for me.
For my work with Dr. Lavariega on Voces it has been much less eventful but just as interesting. I have been coordinating with peers to write their essays on their experience as a Latinx in this country and it has been incredible to hear such a diverse range of stories. I have loved delving into this topic and learning more about the varied experiences of my community. It has helped me to get a better feel of the sources of some issues within our community and also helped me form a deeper understanding of the ways in which bi-culturalism functions in the United States.
We have a wide range of stories that tell an important narrative that is usually missing from the greater conversation of race and identity in mainstream media. Often times, the experiences of Latinos in this country is homogenized and we are viewed as foreigners in a country over half our population was born in. Voces aims to change that narrative and humanize Latinos, especially in the current political climate. I have been able to further explore my own identity as a mixed-race Latina and what that means for me and my identity, my peers have been able to explore their experiences with machismo culture and pressures to appear hyper-masculine and dominant, or being Latino and unable to speak Spanish and the complex feelings that accompany it, and so many other experiences that challenge the current notion of Latinos in this country.
For my research on gentrification, I have begun interviews with people impacted by the recent changes in Brooklyn. The goal is to bring a qualitative element to the project to show how real people are dealing with displacement and the changing demographics. We will ask if they know anyone has been displaced or if has impacted them in any way, what subtle changes they notice around them, and how they feel about the overall trend. How, if at all, is Brooklyn different now than it was a decade or two ago? We have an understanding of the policies and events that brought New York from a financial crisis to the economic powerhouse it is now, but what does it look like on the ground for the people who witnessed the transformation? A difficulty we are having is coordinating schedules and finding room in people’s schedules.
For Voces, we are collecting more essays from Latinxs in the New York area. We want to showcase the broad spectrum of experience and show there is not one singular Latinx narrative in the United States. I am writing a piece for it and a difficulty I am having is trying to properly word my experiences in a way that is meaningful for the reader. Some of the new authors are having similar difficulties finding ways to identify and write about issues that are personal to them.
My second research project is with Dr. Lavariega in which we are working on a book entitled “Voces” about the Latino experience and issues facing Latinos in the United States. So far we have sent a prospectus to a publisher and are currently in correspondence. I have been recruiting people to write for the book and we will then edit from there.
Reading all of the different essays makes me very proud to be Latina and shows how diverse our experiences and perspectives are. There is also so much history and so many real issues we face every day that are given an important spotlight in this collection of essays.
My research has taken me in an interesting and slightly different direction. A lot of my research examines the public policy that lead to the planned shrinkage and decay of New York in the 70s and 80s. I am thinking it might be worthwhile to alter my angle just a bit and focus on how policy can create either urban decay or urban renewal and eventual displacement. Through policing, rezoning, redlining, and social service cuts, lawmakers are able to manipulate demographic shifts and essentially entire neighborhoods.
The next component I need is to find more policing data on policies like Broken Windows and Stop & Frisk. It is a well known fact that minorities are disproportionately targeted through this policies but I am trying to find out exact numbers and percentages.
The next piece of my research I am very eager to begin are the interviews of displaced people from Williamsburg and Greenpoint and residents of Bushwick who are afraid they might be next. One of the most important aspects of this research for me and Dr. Salerno is putting a face to all the statistics and policies and facts. We really want people to have the opportunity to tell their own stories and show their perspectives.
I will be working on two research projects this year. The first being a project with Dr. Roger Salerno on the history of gentrification in New York City and its effects on people of color and the second being with Dr. Jessica Lavariega-Monforti in which we are attempting to publish a book called “Voces” filled with personal essays and interviews of Latinxs describing their political socialization and views on/experiences with immigration.
Gentrification is a serious issue that has become ever present in the outer-boroughs of New York City, especially within the last 20 years. Rather than invest in and help grow communities of color already living in New York, corporate interest and the government seem to be more concerned in pricing people out and attracting wealthy transplants into neighborhoods that have historically been low income and of color. Our hopes with our research is to create data on this phenomenon from a racial perspective because in almost every study of gentrification, race is conspicuously absent and we want to document their stories so that other people can hear them for years to come.
Latinxs are the fastest growing population in the United States, and yet we are one of the most understudied and underrepresented populations. Our goal is to take all of these stories and oral histories and create a book to shed light on the experiences of Latinxs both foreign and U.S. born and our experiences with immigration/our families. The book will also examine how that has contributed to our political views and political socialization. We hope to create dialogue about the issues Latinxs in this country face and as the name of the book suggests, give voices to the population that is projected to be 60 million by 2020.
For our study on gentrification, Dr. Salerno and I will be focusing on the borough of Brooklyn with a concentration on Bushwick. We will be examining maps, census data, demographic shifts of public schools, and conducting interviews with natives of Bushwick and those who have been forced to relocate because of gentrification. We will also be conducting a literature review of previous studies of gentrification and researching the ways in which city planners and corporate entities initiate these changes within neighborhoods.
Dr. Lavariega and I will be reviewing the pieces we already have and adding a few new pieces to reflect the current climate around immigration. We will then beg into categorize them to match similar themes. We will also be writing segues between chapters and providing additional information for readers to get a full understanding of the stories.