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Change Racial integration: does it work both ways?

Doohickie

Cyburbian
Messages
3,100
Points
44
Short version: If integrating white neighborhoods into multi-racial/cultural neighborhoods is considered progressive, desirable, and all the other good terms, what about "historically black neighborhoods"? Is integrating them also progressive? Or should they remain undiluted cultural enclaves?

Longer version: In riding around Fort Worth, I sometimes go through areas that are historically black. We have a few. They also tend to be (but not uniformly so) more run down than the average. And while I'm riding I often have the time to think ideas through. This one pops up in my head from time to time and remains unresolved. I think it's also related to the concept of gentrification, where well-to-do people (often white) move into economically disadvantaged neighborhoods and in the extreme push the original community out. The result may be a "model community" and a "great place to live" but if it was serving a purpose such as providing affordable housing near downtown to lower income working people, are those truly improvements in the overall makeup of the city?

My wife likes to look through Realtor.com and post listings on her FB wall to discuss. There have been a few that she's posted and says, "I could see myself living in this house." In some cases, the house is in one of those historically black areas and I think maybe she wouldn't want to live there if she knew that, and the neighbors might not be happy if white families moved in.

But are those feelings any less prejudicial than white people getting angry when a black family moves in? Do they have a right to be angry (either side)?
 
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Messages
2,651
Points
22
This topic is packed with so many great questions that it's almost overwhelming. For me, it's a humbling feeling.

Perhaps no one person in the world can do justice to the topic, and maybe it's supposed to be that way.

How to start? We can write about our individual, fact-based experiences; actively read/listen to other posters; and collectively start a discussion.

As planners, we're sort of internally programmed to find solutions, or come up with an endgame. IMHO this topic involves resisting that inclination, at least at the beginning.

Perhaps short- to medium-term goals should be to get many good discussions going; to spread public awareness and education; to promote community/public involvement; and to always continue to educate and re-educate ourselves.
 

luckless pedestrian

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
12,677
Points
54
Our high school in Maine is so non-diverse that we have an exchange student program with kids in the Bronx and I kid you not - our oldest daughter did it and the girl that came to stay with us with so sweet and yes she was black - our youngest was only 3 and the morning after she arrived (coming in late the night before) he exclaimed "there's a girl in the house and she's got black skin! wow!" and I realized that yeah, we are totally in an exchange program and we need to get our kids over the bridge more - luckily she thought he was adorable as he truly was excited about it so we didn't react and just excitedly said "yes we know and her name is blah blah and we are so happy she is here!" - when our oldest went there to the Bronx to her house, she did get an eye opener on life in the Bronx as it wasn't pretty

it was a great program - some of the kids were housed with lobster fishing families so they got to go out to set and pick up traps - we took her hiking and made her a lobster dinner - she marveled at everything - we stayed in touch for awhile but lost track of where she ended up

not sure if this relevant but this thread reminded me of that happening
 

MacheteJames

Cyburbian
Messages
986
Points
22
First off,

I hope folks are aware of the annual Hindsight conference - this stuff is literally what the event is about, but from a planning perspective.

Without sounding too reductionist, my position on this question is something like the following: the black family of means who move into the white neighborhood has to context not only with racial steering, but with the fear of the state being brought down upon themselves and their children while trying to simply live their lives in a peaceable manner and just "be". The white family moving into the black neighborhood may potentially displace black residents who have not had the chance to build wealth for their families (note that the median net work of black families in Greater Boston is something like $8) and cannot compete with white incomes in the real estate market - BUT - and this is extremely important - the white residents generally do not have to fear the imposition of state-sanctioned violence on themselves and their families when simply trying to live life.

On one side, displacement and resentment. On the other, police harassment and, god forbid, potential violence against black and brown suburban kids. Both of these are ugly, but only one of them is deadly.

I should note that this is not just academic for me, but actually quite personal, as my little family lives in an overwhelmingly white area and are potentially looking to buy a home at some point. I think about this stuff constantly.
 

Doberman

Cyburbian
Messages
210
Points
9
It's truly a chicken or egg paradox.

Whites make up the majority of the middle-class. Gentrification, even when looked at purely on income, has an innate racial implication where middle-class whites would move into blighted, predominantly Black, areas. Until Blacks make up a larger portion of the middle-class, Gentrification will imply moving Whites in Black neighborhoods.

This is where these types of development initiatives need some type of PEST or Impact analysis. Sure moving higher-income people will have positive socio-economic benefits into an area, but other elements like the owner to renter ratio (renters being the most displaced in gentrification) and the infrastructure such as transit that are you are pushing people away from needs to be looked at.
 

Doohickie

Cyburbian
Messages
3,100
Points
44
This is actually heating up a bit in a neighborhood I ride though. They're talking about a zoning change that is viewed as aiding gentrification along Hemphill Street. Signs are going up that say "Hemphill no se vende" (Hemphill is not for sale, in Spanish).
 

glutton

Cyburbian
Messages
489
Points
12
It does make me wonder sometimes, am I the gentrifier? (For reference I am not White but not Black either, though we are upper middle class).
 
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