Gentrified within Formal Culture

In class, we discussed gentrification in the sense of Mind of My Mind. The Feminist Wire’s, Madhu Dubey explores oppression within the text in his article Octavia Butler’s Novels of Enslavement. He introduces the idea of the “binary logic of racial difference” (Dubey, 352). Within Mind of My Mind, Mary gentrifies her area to continue growing her town of latent converts. Mary represents the binary logic of racial difference because of the remnants of oppression that she serves to the community. She labels those who cannot hear her pattern as mutes, who were once the norm in society. Dubey parallels the term mutes with niggers. He is completely accurate in the correlation. The culture of Patternist’s made themselves superior to everyone else in the community. As the population increased, they pushed the “mutes” out with the justification of a need for more space.

This presents on the question of how is it possible for one population to grow without moving the other. The answer is simple, it cannot. Mary, like many gentrifiers, invests the means to move others out of the land because they do not have the means to stay. In the video we watched, we saw two cultures going head to head on a soccer field. One an informal culture, who lived there all their lives and the opposing the formal culture, who recently moved into the neighborhood. The formal culture feels more entitled to the land because they paid for land that was never owned before. However, the informal culture knows the rules of the land, where they do not have to reserve time to play on the field. Mary has done the same thing.

Butler goes further in her exposition of gentrification in Clay’s Ark, where specific communities of car gangs and drug haulers flourish. The stereotype of gentrified communities developed due to the negative associations of poverty. People below the poverty line are perceived as victims of substance abuse, thieves and overall as a threat to society. In Clay’s Ark, the avoided communities are labeled “sewers.” The community’s label associates it with waste. Keira expresses the type of people who live in sewers as “thieves, murders, traffickers in prostitutes” and “body part dealers” (617). Gentrified neighborhoods within the text are extreme but stem from the idea of racial difference where oppression and lack of sustainable living forces community members to indulge in crimes, which the formal culture does not understand.

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