Apr 22, 2011

The Death of So Called Political Power: They Want Our Land

WaPost A-1 story today talks about the dilution of black influence/majority districts with black flight/sweep out of urban centers around the nation. All this talk about gentrification and the future of "chocolate cities" doesn't take into account the human element. African Americans, especially, but also Jews, Chinese communities, and a range of others have a history of being restricted from living where they choose, later or directly as a result choosing to create their own communities.

Then they began losing those communities through class segregation celebrated as "integration" when people left the city for affluent suburbs, new valuation of the land they settled on as populations shifted and "center city" became a target with cross hairs on their properties (witness Chinatowns throughout this land), generations of new immigrants bought the American dream of integration and suburbia while turning away from co-ethnic cohesion that protected their predecessors amidst such animosity.

Not to mention the fact that people aren't stupid: it is clear that some communities get better services, better schools, better quality of life. Those are places that are "integrated" (read, less than 30% POC). And that means the enclaves aren't where it's at. The cynicism/realism is that people of color with the privilege of mobility have to go to where the good stuff is at, because it's not going to come to our people, and we're not going to be able to create it ourselves without political power (or will, in this largely dormant period for massive domestic community action).

So if you read this article, the whole situation feels like a terrible spiral: community folks of color live in close proximity to one another, then move out because they can or they have to (depends on the city and level of gentrification/rising costs) realizing that they don't have the political power with whatever power they have amassed over these painful 40 years to actually make things significantly better for urban communities of color. they move to the 'burbs, and they have a better quality of life but that of the folks they leave behind gets worse as the numbers decrease, and we end up with people throughout who have less elected political power than before.

And this doesn't even begin to address the complex issues these communities face on the daily in the suburbs.

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