In last week’s paper, I wrote about a meeting held by Allyship, a local queer-rights group, about saving gay spaces—such as bars, apartments, and community centers—which have all been disappearing from Capitol Hill as rents skyrocket. It’s an interesting topic, and Allyship deserves applause for bringing it up and bringing together folks of all ages, races, etc.

But I was a little strident in my report. Rather than give the group a blowjob for pioneering great work and pointing out that they would be taking future steps and that a few quiet people in the audience were quite reasonable—which would have been a dull-ass article—I said Allyship should put a lid on the interminable babble about “oppression” and “privilege” that dominated the meeting. It’s not that oppression, privilege, prejudice, race, and homophobia aren’t part of gentrification. They are. But maybe it was that I grew up attending predominantly black schools in the Central District and going to an overwhelmingly black church where we talked much of social injustice. Then I worked on drug policy and criminal justice reform, and talked about racial inequities some more. And I’m fucking sick of talking about it, especially in the context of gentrification.

The impact of the real-estate market on queer housing and space—we get it, rooted in social inequity, we get it—is a math problem... a math problem solvable in Seattle much more easily than conquering institutional oppression. But, because I was glib and because I mocked Scott Winn for starting the meeting by asking the group to acknowledge the Duwamish people who were the first people gentrified out of Seattle (seriously), I knew that someone would be upset at me in the comments of my article. And recently, someone posting as Scott Winn—probably Scott—posted this retort:

The article was also no surprise after seeing how Holden carried himself as a panelist. From referring to his new neighbors in the Central Area as “crack dealers” to his short-sighted vision of what is possible by asserting that gentrification caused by development will always exist, he made clear that he was no friend to communities of color. Important to note, Holden silenced what represented half of the forum: a focus on the history of racial gentrification in Seattle, and resistance to it. This erasure, while not surprising, is sadly typical of many white liberals who have not addressed their privilege.

As for my recognition of the Duwamish Nation, it was sad and racist that Holden chose to ridicule me for it.

I’m sure I’ll never appreciate my privilege as a white man. I’m an oppressor. And it was mean to make fun of Scott for acknowledging the Duwamish Nation. But I take umbrage with one thing. I called the “crack dealers” in front of my house “crack dealers” because they’re actually selling crack. (Perhaps Scott could reconsider his assumptions that crack dealers are people of color.) I live on 21st and Union, right next to the Union Market convenience store. It’s no secret to anyone what’s happening on that corner. The guys wait in front of the store or on my steps, wait for a car to pull up, walk over, exchange a small bag containing some off-white lumps for some green pieces of paper, and then the car drives off. My white neighbors, black neighbors, Asian neighbors, gay neighbors, and African American housemates have all agreed: those are crack dealers.

Also, while I said that land values will increase in a growing city—gentrifying some districts—I also made the point that we can do plenty of things to keep residents in their neighborhoods. I listed six ways to do that. Call those options short-sighted, but a long-range vision for challenging oppression won’t help get a better deal on incentive zoning, the Pike-Pine rezone, light-rail design—the things that will actually preserve these gay spaces now. Working toward those goals, which I admire Allyship for doing, is worthwhile. But talking about oppression—or claiming people who sell crack aren't crack dealers—is what drives practical people away from activism.