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The Creative Underclass: Youth, Race, and the Gentrifying City

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The Creative Underclass: Youth, Race, and the Gentrifying City

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These slides feature in my book tour for The Creative Underclass (Duke University Press, 2019). For more information, visit www.tylerdenmead.org.

These slides feature in my book tour for The Creative Underclass (Duke University Press, 2019). For more information, visit www.tylerdenmead.org.

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The Creative Underclass: Youth, Race, and the Gentrifying City

  1. 1. Tyler Denmead, PhD Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge Book Talk @tdt87 | www.tylerdenmead.org | td287@cam.ac.uk Cover art by Sylvie Larmena
  2. 2. “One youth participant noted that challenging gentri fi cation in Providence was an important yet complicated task for her. She said that she bene fi ted as a young person from nonpro fi t organisations in the city, but at the same time she felt that these organisations were also ‘gentrifying forces.’” [The Creative Underclass (CU), p. 119] “Did you experience this contradiction? 
 Can we talk?”
  3. 3. New Urban Arts is founded by undergraduates from Brown University + the Rhode Island School of Design w/ Providence public high school students. Mayor Cianci brands Providence “The Renaissance City”. I left New Urban Arts as its founding director to go to graduate school. Mayor Cicilline brands Providence “The Creative Capital.” I return to study New Urban Arts ethnographically as a post-doctoral fellow through the Center for Public Humanities at Brown University. The Creative Underclass: Youth, Race, and the Gentrifying City published. 1997 2007 2012 2019 1998 2009
  4. 4. In Providence, like in many other cities in our country, young people—particularly low-income youth and those in communities of color—are systematically denied access to high-quality, creative, learning opportunities. This climate, alongside current economic trends, means that organisations like New Urban Arts are under increased pressure to meet students’ learning needs in the arts. Our free, year-round out-of-school youth programs are an innovative response to that need… our long-term goal is that young people and artist mentors work together—as collaborators and peers—to develop creative practices which allow them to become more imaginative, and active, community members.
  5. 5. Monty Oum Jamila Woods
  6. 6. “… where young people come together to make a lot, make together, and celebrate what they make until what they make ends upon the fl oor.” Bright, E., A. Oesch, and N. Puello. We Make a Lot. We Make Together. We Celebrate What We Make. Providence, RI: New Urban Arts, 2011.
  7. 7. “Young men and women are “homesteading"— fi nding unsuspected places within their geographic locations, their public institutions, and their spiritual lives to sculpt real and imaginary corners for peace, solace, communion, personal and collective identity work. These are spaces of deep, sustained community-based educative work, outside the borders of formal schooling.” (p. 132) Fine, M., Weis, L., Centrie, C., & Roberts, R. (2000). Educating Beyond the Borders of Schooling. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 31(2), 131–151 . Education “beyond the borders of schooling”
  8. 8. Strongin, F. (2017). “You don’t have a problem, until you do”: Revitalization and Gentri fi cation in Providence, Rhode Island (Master’s thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA. p. 45. The Gentrifying City
  9. 9. Luis began to notice cues for when he might get priced out of his home on the South Side. For example, he saw what he described as “the fi rst white guy at a chimi truck.”… He noticed that the bodegas in his neighborhood, which used to be cash or food stamp only, were now accepting credit cards. He understood that there needed to be enough of an af fl uent clientele base with credit cards to justify the commercial cost of credit transactions. When I asked him what these changes meant for the South Side, he said, “I don’t want to pay more than fi ve bucks for a chimi. . . . I don’t want to pay more than two dollars per pound for platanos. That shouldn’t be a thing, you know. That’s what that means. When I start seeing kale and cumin at fucking bodegas, I know something is up.” (CU, p. 136) “The fi rst white guy at a chimi truck…”
  10. 10. “Another participant … told me that her American Dream did not entail a suburban house behind a white picket fence but rather a spacious red brick loft with good city views.” (CU, p. 128) The New Urban American Dream
  11. 11. Ideology is always contradictory “There is no single, integrated ‘ruling ideology’… Ideology works best by suturing together contradictory lines of argument and emotional investments— fi nding what Laclau called ‘systems of equivalence’ between them. Contradiction is its métier. … But, though not logical, few strategies are so successful at winning consent as those which root themselves in the contradictory elements of common sense, popular life and consciousness.” Hall, S. (2011). The neoliberal revolution. Soundings, 48(48), 9–28, p. 18.
  12. 12. “Tyler Denmead is an unusual sort of inner-city hero… We hope that he returns to Providence—and runs for mayor?” “Denmead's urban uplift” “10 People You Don’t Know about but Soon Will” because Denmead discovered “more intuitive calling” to “empower” youth in “ fi nding their creative voice.” Rhode Island’s “Best Role Model” because, they wrote, “Tyler Denmead is still in his twenties and has already found his passion.. Editorial Board. (2007, March 10). Denmead’s Urban Uplift. The Providence Journal-Bulletin. Conti, A.-M. (2004, November). Tyler Denmeade>>Arts. Providence Monthly, (96), 19 . Moan, A., Bodah, P., Francis, S., Harrison, L., & Fulweiler, M. (2003, August). Role Model. The Rhode Island Monthly, 16(4), 122 .
  13. 13. “In 1992, it was scary to stand on Westminster Street at 10 p.m.,” Lupo said, as he described the dominant way of thinking about Providence in the early 1990s. “Cars would go by with four or fi ve scary youths.” 
 (CU, pp. 120-121) “Cars would go by with… scary youths.”
  14. 14. “Our economic well-being is only one part of developing a healthy, strong, and creative Providence. The local creative sector also nurtures society’s young leaders, transforms some of our most troubled youth, and is a critical component of fostering creative problem-solvers in our schools.” “Transform troubled youth” Dreeszen and Associates, New Commons, & City of Providence Department of Art, Culture and Tourism. (2009). Creative Providence: A Cultural Plan for the Creative Sector. Providence, RI: Department of Art, Culture, and Tourism .
  15. 15. “Some of the artist-mentors talked about how they were struggling so hard and wouldn’t be able to eat tomorrow and would have to go to Price Right. But they were living in broken down houses and going to Whole Foods. When I started to get to know them better, I asked them how could they do it… How could they live like this? How could they work on commission, give away their posters for free, and eat at Whole Foods?” (CU, p. 104) Would we have idolised you…? 1 of 2
  16. 16. “… I learned that their parents were there to support them if they fucked up or if shit got too hard. They had degrees at places like Harvard and RISD to fall back upon. We didn’t have conversations about how they were able to live like this. If we did, the questions become “What does that look like for us? Would we have idolised you in the same way? Would we have even built that relationship with you?” Looking back at it, I’m thinking I can never live that life ... I mean ... that is my life ... that is my reality … but without the Whole Foods.” (CU, p. 104) Would we have idolised you…? 2 of 2
  17. 17. “When articles on East Village art as a new collective entity began to appear in the major art publications in September 1982, there were only the original fi ve galleries. Four months later these “pioneer” enterprises were lauded in the Village Voice as the “heroes” of the art world for their dealings on the “Neo-Frontier.” 
 (p. 92). The Fine Art of Gentri fi cation Deutsche, R., & Ryan, C. G. (1984). The fi ne art of gentri fi cation. October, 31, 91– 111 .
  18. 18. creative class creative underclass
  19. 19. Structure of the Book
  20. 20. “This is the Zen Zone. The Zen Zone is the place for you to do things when you don’t feel like doing art. You can go in here and you can chillax, text your homies, your bromies, your chicas, or whatever it is that you kids do these days. Check your Facebooks. You can just, you know, mellow out. Sit on a bean bag. Talk. Conversate. Read books. [Lewis paused and then began speaking more slowly, drawing out his vowels.] The Zen Zone is more of that quiet time in the studiooo. It’s cooool. You’re wearin’ berets and drinkin’ cappuccinos.” (CU, p. 82) “Wearin’ berets + drinkin’ cappuccinos”
  21. 21. “For us, (the question of productivity) was about dealing with the traumas of confronting, for example, the racist attitude of a guidance counselor during the school day. We were being told, “You don’t belong in that AP class.” We would come over to the studio after school and we were shell-shocked. For me, it was like, “Nobody is going to ask me to do anything here now. I am just going to sit here and regroup.” This is a means of survival, this being unproductive. I think it is good not to make sometimes. It’s good to talk, and I think, talking sometimes at New Urban Arts, that was enough for me. Talking is just loving, and loving is beautiful. (CU, p. 85) “Talking is loving + loving is beautiful”
  22. 22. •Invest in education beyond the borders of schooling where young people can sculpt real and imaginary corners for peace, solace, communion, personal and collective identity work. •Address the epistemic violence and silencing that invalidates forms of youth participation in non- pro fi t education programmes. •Counter discursive violence against racialized youth in Development without Displacement initiatives. •More broadly, construct social and spatial imaginaries that divest whiteness of its presumed and actual value. After The Creative Underclass
  23. 23. Tyler Denmead, PhD Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge @tdt87 | www.tylerdenmead.org | td287@cam.ac.uk Get a 30% discount on the paperback with coupon E19DENMD at the Duke University Press website (North America) and Combined Academic Publishers website (Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Paci fi c). Details are on my website. Thank you!

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