THE BLOG
09/30/2014 04:11 pm ET Updated Nov 30, 2014

Do You Speak Gentrification?

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Real estate. In New York City it is as daily a conversation as what pizzeria truly has the best slices or how it is that Jets starting QB Geno Smith has not yet joined the rolls of the city's unemployed. Like any New Yorker, real estate is never far from my thoughts, especially since I've been looking for a new apartment. While you want a nice place with plenty of room, light and 2 bathrooms (Baller!), you also want all this in an ideal location. And since location in real estate is of paramount importance, I've remarked at how many people I overhear at open houses doing linguistic backflips in order to gather the crucial demographic info they need from a real estate agent while trying not to sound like a total xenophobic monster. It's a pretty amusing thing to behold, especially when I'm also in the room -- presumably judging them. Anyway, here's a glossary of the demo doublespeak I've heard bandied about in the far flung reaches of Brooklyn. Maybe you've heard a few. Maybe you have a few of your own to add.

GOOD -- OK, I'm sorry if that insulted your intelligence. You know what good means but when placed before words like "schools" or "neighborhood" the meaning of the word changes a bit. In this case it tends to mean "white."
Example: Are the schools around here good? Yes, they're good (winky wink emoticon)

SKETCHY -- Black/Latino/Other
Example: "Bed-Stuy is still kinda sketchy... But they just got a Soul Cycle, though!"

IT'S REAL -- See "sketchy"

DARK SIDE OF THE PARK (Prospect Park) -- Meaning the eastern side of Prospect Park where the darks live.

THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE -- The diagnosis that a neighborhood has nothing to offer despite the fact that said neighborhood is home to many businesses already -- none of which are coffee shops that beckon potential customers with terms like "single origin," "local" or "fair trade." Such non-businesses simply do not scan/count.
Example: "There's like nothing out here. Just a bunch of soul food joints, liquor stores, and weave shops. You know... NOTHING."

VIBRANT -- Black.
Example: "It's a super vibrant community -- a lot of local color(s)."

PIONEER -- (verb or noun) To move into a "bad" or "sketchy" neighborhood in the hopes that more pioneers will follow. Worst case scenario: The Donner Party.

Example: "We're thinking of pioneering it out in Brownsville. We hope to subdue the native populace with cultural events and establishments that don't represent them. Hopefully they'll get the message and beat it."

Much in the same way that jazz is the notes that you don't play, this coded racial language says tons without saying anything overtly hostile at all. The only problem is, a lot of people I hear throwing these words around, are painfully awful at jazz.