- Race, Class, and Politics in the Cappuccino City by Derek S. Hyra
Race, Class, and Politics in the Cappuccino City offers a detailed and very well-written account of Washington, DC, in the specificity of the Shaw/U Street neighborhood. Author Derek Hyra takes the reader on a journey of the redevelopment and gentrification of this neighborhood through local and intimate stories. Hyra does so with eight chapters divided into three parts.
The first part is called "Th e Setting" and contains three chapters. This part sets the scene for the redevelopment of Shaw/U Street with the concepts of "gilded ghetto" and "cappuccino city" to show the demographic change from a predominantly black city to a more "cappuccino- colored" city with the arrival of white newcomers. These two metaphors are used throughout the book. They create the perfect flow for the reader and fit very well with the processes that are described. This part goes on to discuss the unusual political background of Washington, DC, and how this affected the development of the city and the behavior of the inhabitants as they fought for decades to be even locally represented. This situation creates both resentment and strengthens the community ties in the city at the same time. This is also apparent in the choice of black Washingtonians' mayor (Marion Barry), who wins the people's support, in spite of his corrupt ways, mostly by being on the street and being with the people in general. This part ends with a chapter on Washington's increasing importance as a world city and its connection to the globalization of the economy.
The second part of the book, titled "What's Going On?" is the most interesting part in terms of contributing to gentrification studies. It opens with a chapter on "black branding." Here, Hyra successfully explains how African American culture, important African American [End Page 252] figures, and the history of protests and civil rights were commoditized during the redevelopment process of not only Shaw/U Street but also most of Washington's downtown area. In addition, the resentment this "black branding" sparks for the long-term residents and the conflict it creates between the long-term and new residents is a phenomenon observed in many gentrified neighborhoods that used their diverse past to sell newly built condos and lofts. This is followed by a thorough chapter on intersectionality of race, sexuality, and class through the perspective of gentrification. This type of intersectional analysis in gentrification studies is fairly recent. Hyra takes into account the racial, sexual, and class differences in the neighborhood and analyzes the parts that overlap to showcase the complex and different dynamics at play in a transforming neighborhood. The final chapter of this part is called "Linking Processes of Political and Cultural Displacement." This chapter is important because it does not focus on the residential displacement residents experience in a gentrifying neighborhood (which is already overresearched) but instead analyzes the displacement pressure that the long-term residents experience. Even though the chapter proves to be very interesting, I believe that an account of the displaced people would have been a great addition.
The third and last part of the book, titled "What Does It All Mean?" consists of two chapters. The first is a summary of all the urban processes that are mentioned in the book. Hyra emphasizes his point on where the city of Washington sits in the gentrification and global city literature. The last chapter of the book proposes some policies to enable the current residents to stay in their neighborhood, promotes social mixing in already gentrifying neighborhoods through bottom-up approaches, and offers ways to economically redevelop run-down neighborhoods with their poor residents, not by excluding them.
This book is easy to read and accessible by most segments of the general public. On another note, the book does not offer a detailed or extensive discussion...