Monday, August 15, 2011

Urban Gentrification of the Mind by Teyne Crum

Teyne Crum is an alumnus of the MA in Urban Studies program. Currently, she is the CEO and Lead Consultant for Beyond the Exterior. You can learn more about her organization at She also writes regular articles for, including this post:

Our youth today are so bombarded with entertainment; the media seems to plague their minds with false images and unrealistic views of reality. Today’s youth are more likely to pick up a remote control,exercise their brains with video games, and watch music videos or television for hours at a time. In short, they are more likely to engage in activities that do not warrant reading or studying. Why is it that our youth know more about Hip-Hop artists, fashion trends, how to write and speak in “Ebonics”, understand sexual terminologies, and engage in these activities but, they do not know how to read or write a constructive paragraph. The truth of the matter is many youth have what may be termed “gentrification of the mind”.

The pivotal questions that puzzle me often are: Why is it not a shock when a 14 year-old becomes pregnant or impregnates someone? Why is it the norm for teens to walk into a local convenient store to purchase cigars, blunts, cigarettes, and alcoholic beverages? Why is it the norm to see more and more teens walking around wearing the latest fashion: $100.00 or $200.00 pair of sneakers or boots, leather jackets that cost more than one’s monthly mortgage or rent? Yet, they can barely read or spell the name of these items they are flaunting. Is this not a sign of urban gentrification of the mind plaguing our youth and overtaking our communities?

According to the Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, gentrification is defined as “the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents.” ( This definition may be used to describe the mindset of today’s youth. The minds of our youth have been so overtaken by the materialistic ideals of the affluent that their spirit, hearts, and minds end up displaced. In effect, today’s youth exchange the image and trappings of wealth and the material world for their mental and spiritual development.

Nevertheless, why point out the ignorance of our youth without acknowledging the parents who are promoting these habits. Unfortunately, there are too many parents who are recipients of welfare and use these benefits to create an illusion of wealth. They would rather spend someone else’s tax money on color flat screen high definition TVs, surround sound, (fake) Gucci or Versace handbags, boots, and jewelry. It seems to be normal to spend money from the government on marijuana and alcohol instead of putting food on the table, keeping one’s lights on, or even investing the funds into their child’s education. This behavior is taught and modeled in many homes and no one seems to care. The curse of poverty, lack of education, and enslaved mentality has become a curse passed down from one generation to the next.

The mentality of our youth in this generation has been distorted time and time again. The Bible says, “My people are destroyed because of a lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6a). The devil has placed blinders over the eyes of our young people. Although this generation did not experience slavery in the physical sense in the way of that our ancestors experienced it, they still have an enslaved mentality. They are stuck in a culture that is destroying their very being, self-image, self-esteem, future, and hope for their future. Recall for a moment the Israelites who were freed from Egypt out the hands of Pharaoh, entered into the wilderness to get instructions from God, and eventually cross the Jordan into the Promised Land. The Israelites’ journey through the wilderness was supposed to last for 3 days and 3 nights, not 40 years. However, the journey lasted for 40 years because of their disobedience and because the Israelites still had an enslaved mentality. Do the Israelites sound like this generation? How long will this generation stay stuck in this Urban Gentrified Mindset? Pharaoh was slave master to the Israelites, and sadly the Urban Gentrified Culture is the slave master of this generation.

In order for our youth to be freed from this bondage and their eyes opened, they need to understand there is more to life then following a trend. The Bible says, “What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself?” (Mark 8:36 Cont. English Ver.). Only if our young people believe in themselves and that they “can do all things through Christ which strengthen” us (Phil. 4:13), then perhaps they would strive to get more out of life.

The norm in this generation should be that a 14 year-old child graduates from high school with honors and then graduates from college by his or her 18thbirthday. The norm should be a child who is seeking to create a video game that educates and stimulates the minds of his or her peers instead of wasting their brain cells on violence and sexual explicit games. How about our young people striving to be the youngest politician, lawyer, doctor, or next engineer?

People, please hear my cry, and educate our young people. Young people, please stop being lazy and read, do research, know where the things you are wearing come from, its meanings, and know your history.

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