Outrageous Ad Is Part of Pernicious Neighborhood Rebranding Game


Published in Next City, November 10 2017

"People didn’t really believe it. It was just so outrageously racist,” says Keith Paschall II, an Indianapolis-based community organizer and artist.

“We were all just taken aback,” says Derek Hyra, a researcher on neighborhood change.

They’re talking about an ad on the back of last month’s Urban Times, a local Indianapolis publication.

“Real estate prophets said build here, so the people came and they built, and all was good in the kingdom,” reads the full-page ad by Flock Realty for their development, ZMC Urban Homes, in the Indianapolis neighborhood of Fall Creek Place. “It was once an unseemly place filled with unholy habitats and vice lords. Thusly people banded with bureaucrats and rebranding Oracles who ordained Dodge City be henceforth and forever known as Fall Creek Place.”

The old Dodge City was a predominantly black neighborhood that had suffered disinvestment and neglect. It was rebranded Fall Creek Place as part of a federally funded urban renewal project in the early 2000s. Black renters were displaced en masse, despite promises that the infrastructure upgrades and new housing would benefit them too. Now, it’s a predominantly white, affluent community. The Flock Realty ad seems to imagine that white community as its audience, and to revel in what the displaced black community has lost.

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Photograph by Valerie Everett, Creative Commons