• Ongoing coronavirus / COVID-19 discussion: how is the pandemic affecting your community, workplace, and wellness? 🦠

    Working from home? So are we. Come join us! Cyburbia is a friendly big tent, where we share our experiences and thoughts about urban planning practice, planning adjacent topics, and whatever else comes to mind. No ads, no spam, no social distancing.

Does exodus of white populations lead to degeneration of cities?

Hceux

Cyburbian
Messages
1,028
Points
22
I just came across with this link:

(Dan) Reverse the letters and type it into a new browser window to view the site. The site is associated with a known hate site, and visiting it will probably violate the acceptable Internet use policy of your employer.

mth.seiticSU/moc.yrotsih-etihw.www


It discusses how the degeneration of American cities (New York, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Newark, Washington DC, and especially Detroit) has been caused by two factors: the exodus of the white population and the migration of non-white population. The photoessay also makes some parallels to similar occurrences with the old Roman and Greek civilization cities.

I don't want to flare up a debate or a fight over racial issues. However, I'm just curious as to what are your opinions on the relationship of the exodus of white population to the in-migration of non-white population in cities.

Personally, I think it's not an issue between the "white" population and the "non-white" population, but it's something more like between the "middle- and upper-class" population and the "lower- and working-class" population that has just been exacerbated in spatial terms. What I mean here is that, sure, many, if not all, communities are spatially segregated in different neighbourhoods based on class differences, but the community still function together. However, there are some cases of extreme spatial segregation between these two subgroups (i.e. Detroit) that leaves behind a landscape as Detroit is infamously known for.

Also, share your opinions and thoughts if you think there are other communities like Detroit in North America, in Europe, in South America, and elsewhere around the world, but that are not as well known. Is Fresno, CA, one of them? Is Vancouver, BC, another example (i.e. Chinatown and Downtown Eastside)?

Let's keep this as an intelligent thread, not a racially-slandered one. Thanks in advance.
 

pete-rock

Cyburbian
Messages
1,550
Points
24
Hceux said:
I just came across with this link: (Dan) Link deleted
Let's keep this as an intelligent thread, not a racially-slandered one. Thanks in advance.

It's hard to do that with the link you offer. You've put forth an (what I believe to be) honest question, but with an incendiary tone.

This is a can of worms.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,623
Points
34
Here's a different slant... It's not the "white flight" thats to blame for degrated urban environments. Its the public policies that were still in effect - largely by the politicians of anglo-saxon ethnicity and largely by court decree - that are to blame, and those in part caused the flight.

Here in Milwaukee for example, forced desegregation of public schools resulted in an elimination of "neighborhood schools". It was not uncommon for children to be forcibly bussed to other parts of the city to get an education, all in the name of desegregation. The only option a parent had for their children to be guaranteed a school choice was to move out of the school district.

Another example of public policy is described here . Although the story is about a local theatre ensemble, it explored the decimation of the city's black middle class at the hands of admittedly white administrations that didnt want a freeway in *their own* back yards.

EDIT: I agree with pete-rock that the link is particularly poor and was not in context to my reply.
 

Bear Up North

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
9,329
Points
31
This Bear agrees....the link was in poor taste. Just when you think that people are coming around to seeing that the color of skin doesn't matter you explore that link and realize how sad our world can be.....how discriminatory supposedly "intelligent" people can be.

The sadness in the pictures of Detroit is the result of many things. Most Cyburbia residents know what they are:

Public policy, as mentioned by Chet.

The freeway, designed to move us from place to place, quick and easy. In Detroit the freeways helped move the people to the suburbs. They drove back into town for work.....but the corporations closed their old factories and built new ones in the suburbs.

Shopping centers, such as Detroit's Northland. (Growing up in Toledo in the 1950's was the same as Detroit, except smaller-scale. All of the shopping WAS downtown but with the growth of suburban shopping centers, no reason to go downtown.)

Economic reasons: White and black, the poor people in the central city had no place to go, no financial ability to better their surroundings. Bad choices followed, usually involving drugs or alcohol.

City-versus-suburb antagonism. Detroit and it's suburban neighbors fought for years over countless issues.....many with underlining racial tones. On a smaller scale, this goes on in Toledo.

Bear
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
18,752
Points
69
There are several acknowledged, respected scholars on racial transition; Anthony Downs and W. Dennis Keating are the two I'm most familiar with. I'd recommend looking at their writings, rather than a Web site from a questionable source.

I'll say that based on personal experience, growing up in a neighborhood that experienced racial transition in the late 1980s through the 1990s, it's not about race, but rather socioeconomic transition. In Buffalo's Kensington neighborhood, working- and middle-class whites and blacks were replaced by lower income blacks when the local economy fell flat, many elderly homeowners died, real estate prices plunged, and an abundance of homes flooded the market. Houses were bought by low-income blacks with subsidized loans, and absentee landlords. The new low-income residents were inexperienced in home maintenance, and came from a much different culture than the middle-class blacks and whites that resided in Kensington.

This is a topic that's worthy of discussion, but not in the context of what was seen on a racist Web site.

[admin hat on]

Doing some investigating, I found that the site is part of a better-known White Nationalist Web site, Stormfront. I'll give you the benefit of a doubt and say that you didn't know about the association.

I've removed the link, but you can type it in manually, so there's minimal reference to cyburbia.org in their site logs.

If anybody does anything that entices a board invasion from those other sites -- for example, a flood of Nazis and White Nationalist-types start registering and posting because someone mentioned Cyburbia on one of their boards -- THEY WILL BE BANNED, as will anybody associated with a Nazi or White Nationalist Web site or organization.


[admin hat off]
 

Hceux

Cyburbian
Messages
1,028
Points
22
My goodness, I didn't expect to get this kind of outcry.

I apologize that the link actually irked some of you. I didn't mean at all to advertise the link. I just indicated what it was and what context from the site was my inspiration point for my thread topic: what's the underpinnings of these degenerated cities?

I agree with Dan. The thread is not about flaring up any racial tensions that already exist in disguise or in full visibility or give merits to the website itself, but it is more about what are the underlying influences in the stark empty, trashed, abandoned landscapes in degenerated cities.

If you need to see the pictures to see what I mean, then find the pictures at the website that I originally provided. I'm sure you already know what sorts of pictures I'm talking anyways.

And to respond to the idea that this whole phenomenon is due to public policy. There has to be more than just that. It would seem to me that public policy are based on certain perspectives and paradigms that are influencing people to behave in certain ways. This is why I suggested that perhaps the increasing physical, social, economic, and spatial seperation between the middle- and the upper-class population and the lower- and the working-class population is playing a role here.

Please keep in mind that this is not to suggest that certain racial or ethnic groups are a part of one of these two subgroups. (I'm just being extra careful here. Perhaps I don't understand how real or deep are racial issues in the United States as it is not discussed as much in Canada.)
 
Messages
94
Points
4
To be short, I believe that the degeneration of cities, like Detroit, come from several negative economic factors occuring around the same time. These include a poor local economy built upon a declining manufactuing sector, vibrant neighborhoods being torn apart by urban renewal, freeways, & school desegragation (busing of inner city students), middle class abandonment, and public zoning policies that allowed incompatible land uses (warehouses, homeless shelters, liquor stores, etc.) in inner city residential neighborhoods.
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
Cities like Atlanta and Miami have both had white flight, have white minority (within city limits) and both are world class cities. To repeat what has been said, economics play the main factor. The fact is jobs have left cities like Detriot and arrived in cities like Altlanta and Miami. The jobs have moved (beit different jobs) for many reasons, but I dont believe race is one of the reasons.

It is the era of the sun belt and the rust belt has felt that impact.
 

mpodemski

Member
Messages
6
Points
0
The white flight combined with the influx of African Americans into Cities did cause the decay. However this is only because of policy that prohibited African Americans from moving to the suburbs and from receiving loans to fix up homes in the inner city. This is combined with the facts that blacks as a group were not allowed access to the economy or isolated from the economy in the inner cities. Meaning stores and factories did not open up in the inner cities after whites left.
 

ebeech121

Cyburbian
Messages
83
Points
4
Hceux said:
Personally, I think it's not an issue between the "white" population and the "non-white" population, but it's something more like between the "middle- and upper-class" population and the "lower- and working-class" population that has just been exacerbated in spatial terms.

I agree that it is not "white" and "non-white", but other, deeper factors.

In cities like Atlanta (I would assume similar for Detroit and Chicago as well) that middle class is associated with being white or vice versa and lower class is associated with "non-white." This is not my opinion, but rather what I've heard from my Sociology classes. These connections have been long established through racial segregation, discrimination and the like. (Sorry about bringing discrimination into this, but it had to be said for clarification.)

So since it seems that these SES's are associated (in society's POV) with different races*, then I guess that is where the "white flight" comes from.
 

ebeech121

Cyburbian
Messages
83
Points
4
mpodemski said:
Meaning stores and factories did not open up in the inner cities after whites left.

Deindustrialization is what I think you mean. And then there's the spatial mismatch hypothesis...and of course the economic disparities you've mentioned.

One more sociological blurb: Polarization of income! We're all going to be poor one day, except for maybe 5 people. (Just kidding..I hope!)
 
Messages
37
Points
2
on white flight and school integration

The white exodus from major cities was a largely 50s and 60s phenomenon for many of the reasons mentioned in the previous posts (policy issues, the GI Bill, block-busting by unscrupulous realtors, etc.). On a different but related angle, an article in the Washington Post Magazine (two weeks ago) discusses the integration of DC's Mckinley Tech in 1954 to comply with the Supreme Court ruling and the concurrent white flight. A previously all-white school and a predominately white neighborhood became all-black by 1960. The school was only truly integrated for a couple of years. Southern racial attitudes were the norm for many in DC at the time, and for most whites the only option was to abandon the city for the Maryland and Virginia suburbs. Immediately after Brown Vs. Board of Education, white flight hit the middle class neighborhoods of DC and Baltimore particularly hard.

The DC suburbs took longer to integrate its schools and experienced little if any subsequent white flight.* Across the river in Arlington, Virginia, Stratford Junior High integrated in 1959 to end Virginia's defiant stand against the Supreme Court ruling. The county remains majority white to this day, but it has also become the destination of choice for many recent immigrants to the DC region. Its public schools today reflect the ethnic diversity of Arlington. Unfortunately, most of the immigrants "move up" to the more affordable outer suburbs, because housing prices in Arlington average 1/2 million.

The integration struggle of nearby Alexandria's schools is memorialized in the movie "Rmember the Titans." TC Williams High School (the school portrayed in the movie) is today one of the most racially and socio-economically diverse high schools in the nation. (Scenes in the movie were actually shot in Druid Hills, GA not Alexandria)


*PG County, Maryland is the exception. It is majority black after white flight in the 70s-90s. PG county reminds me of the Matteson area south of Chicago, which is also a majority black middle class area.
 

boilerplater

Cyburbian
Messages
916
Points
21
The argument is weak!

Interesting thread here, having grown up in a suburban town that experienced white flight over the past 30 years. I had so many friends move to the exurbs.

Another side of it is whites moving into historically black neighborhoods and causing gentrification that displaces long-time African-Am. residents. An architect who is on the D.C. planning board told me he experienced many hostile incidents at meetings where residents of the Anacostia neighborhood were furious about how their 'hood was changing. With values going up in all D.C. neighborhoods, a lot of long-time residents are finding that they can no longer afford it and are moving to the first-tier suburbs.

Racists manage to use anything wrong that a person of color does as justification for their beliefs. If they were looking at a declining little town in the coal-mining region of West Virgina that is predominantly white, they'd be singing a different tune.

With hip-hop being among the world's most influential youth cultures, I wonder how long it will be before emulation of that culture leads to regeneration of these cities.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
Slightly off-topic, but I picked up Mike Davis' Ecology of Fear book. While the primary "focus" (if any) is ecological/natural disasters, he delves a lot into racial/economic transition in suburbs. The book is just so darn depressing (and a little silly in tone. I mean, come on, every minority group/poor preson/immigrant is not an innocent victim, and every middle class person/business person is not the focus of all the world's evils. Although to a Marxist historian, maybe they are :-\ )

But, I really think that is one of the bigger issues facing planners in the United States: How will we regenerate the often horrible post-war suburbs? In some metropolitan areas with rapid population growth, there may be less of an issue. But, even in Northern California, I see many of the 1960s and 1970s neighborhoods looking extremely shabby. The housing was poorly built in styles no longer fashionable in single-use pods. The town center is often a circa 1965 strip mall, and despite my criticisms of New Urbanist foam trim architecture, there is indeed something worse :) So, what resources are there to encourage renewal of these neighbrohoods?
 

Rumpy Tunanator

Cyburbian
Messages
4,473
Points
25
H said:
The fact is jobs have left cities like Detriot and arrived in cities like Altlanta and Miami. The jobs have moved (beit different jobs) for many reasons, but I dont believe race is one of the reasons.

It is the era of the sun belt and the rust belt has felt that impact.

And now your Sun-belt jobs are leaving for China and other parts of southeast Asia;)

Like many others have mentioned, the desegregation of public schools and forced busing is a major issue here. You should go to the school that is in your neighborhood.
 

otterpop

Cyburbian
Messages
6,655
Points
28
My family was one of those who made an exodus from New Orleans in the mid-60s and 70s to the Northshore (north of Lake Ponchartrain). Part of the reason was the American Dream of the suburbs and partly because New Orleans was becoming less of a nice place to live. When I was a kid, you could roam around the city parks without a care. By the late 60's it was not so. Racial strife was prevalent, as well.

So we moved to a gated community north of the lake. Can't say I was sorry. The piney woods north of Madisonville beat the heck out of Uptown, in my opinion. Probably contributed to my "green" leanings later in life.

I go back infrequently. One thing I have noticed is Northlake sounds more and more N'Awlins every time. A lot of the people and businesses have relocated. A trip to a restaurant is Mandeville or Covington often causes you to be greeted by a waitress who says, "What can I git you, dawlin'?"

In typical NIMBYism, I have to stay the Northlake was a lot better before all those people fled there from New Orleans. That is, those who fled the day after we did!
 

2020planner

Member
Messages
17
Points
1
East Palo Alto in the Bay Area is a good example of many of the above problems:

- bad public policy
- difficult time for residents to crack into the job market held for a select (read: white) few
- gentrification of the area due to exorbitant home costs in nearby Palo Alto proper.
- poor urban planning: within the last 3 years a main part of the town was torn up to accomodate large businesses that most likely hired very few local residents. mom and pop shops, barber shops, and the like were replaced by faceless corporations that do little to build the community up

being young, green, and naive, i have faith that the minds of todays modern age (your minds and maybe someday mine) can assemble to slowly chip away at the barnacles of bad planning and poor policy.
 

New2daGame

Member
Messages
18
Points
1
As others have said, I think it has less to do with the exodus of the white population but more to do with the exodus of industry from the city to the suburbs, as well as programs, such as the interstate highway program, which allowed those with means to move further and further from the central city. Most industry moved out of the city to suburban locations where land was cheap and plentiful -- and also not very accessible to inner city residents, unless one owns a car.

However, we can't discount our (overtly) racist past as a nation, which generally banned African-Americans and other minorities from moving to suburban locations for several decades. Many communities had such rules written into their charters. Also, on the whole, African-Americans and Hispanics still lag far behind their white counterparts in median household income. This is yet another vestige of our racist past that will take time to correct.

I also agree that poor planning policy has contributed to desolate central cities. Incompatible land uses and the clustering of public housing are two examples.

So, all in all, it's not just a racial thing. It's a combination of several things. Yet, the bottomline is socioeconomics.
 
Top