When Washington DC-native Merawi Gerima came home after living for some time in Los Angeles he felt he had not come back to the city he left.
That sense of dislocation, caused by the gentrification of the neighbourhood in which he grew up, is the basis for his debut film ‘Residue’. The movie follows a young screenwriter named Jay, who serves as an avatar for Merawi, as he struggles to reconcile his past – and identity – with a present he hadn’t seen coming.
Gentrification has boomed in the US capital over the last ten years and, according to a study published last year by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, between 2000 and 2013 the city had the highest rates of gentrification in the US. The study also found that just seven cities, including Washington, accounted for nearly half of all gentrification in the country. Redevelopment schemes in DC displaced more than 20,000 people in the 13-year period, most of them ethnic minorities.
On this episode of The Stream, we are joined by Gerima and other experts to discuss ‘Residue’ and the impact of gentrification on culture and identity.
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