Research Proposal: Racism and America's Urban Cycle Question

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Racism and America's Urban Cycle

Question: 1

Following World War II, two major points of inflection in American

history would set off a settlement pattern that would levy distinct effects

on the racial disparity present here throughout. The acceleration of

America's economic growth paired with the massive improvement of its

technologies and infrastructure for transportation (i.e. the proliferation

of private automobile and home ownership), would lead to the development of

the suburb.

The most immediate and direct reflection of this condition would be

the sharp contrast between the emergence of the suburb and the decline of

the inner-city. The process of urban flight by which many of the older

residences in the heart of the city would be abandoned for residency in

such contexts would essentially expand the borders of the city. The

outskirts would increasingly be occupied by a city's wealthier inhabitants,

whose access to the city by personal or rail car at this time-as well as

by increasingly reliable communication technology-would allow them to

occupy a large space. Simultaneously, this pattern would considerably

reduce the value and appeal of many residencies in the immediate inner-

city. These would therefore increasingly become the low-income

neighborhoods of America's inner cities. With the industrial development

of the city healthfully underway, its labor class would occupy many of the

decayed old neighborhoods of the city, and would by no coincidence

generally be African American residents. The outcome of this pattern is

described damningly by Massey & Denton (1998), who tell that "the

geographic isolation of Africans within a narrowly circumscribed portion of

the urban environment-whether African townships or American ghettos-forces

blacks to live under extraordinarily harsh conditions and to endure a

social world where poverty is endemic, infrastructure is inadequate,

education is lacking, families are fragmented, and crime and violence are

rampant. Moreover, segregation confines these unpleasant by-products of

racial oppression to an isolated portion of the urban geography far removed

from the experience of most whites." (Massey & Denton, 15-16)

This idea of removing such urban consequences from the view of whites

brings us to consider gentrification. The term 'gentrification' is one of

highly controversial and loaded implication. To its supporters, it appears

that this mode to urban revitalization is the most direct route to

improving property values, social conditions and economic outlooks for

distinct city neighborhoods. To its detractors, gentrification is a term

which naturally implies the economic displacement of lower-income residents

in favor of middle-class inhabitants. On the balance, it remains an issue

very much entangled in individualized and personal perspectives, as well as

in the contexts of varying issues relating to society, economy, policy and

race. Mitchell's (2003) text, which evaluates the longstanding conflict of

interests between the developers of Berkley and its extensive homeless

population, with the process of gentrification at the center of differing

needs of urban land use. Mitchell denotes that "while the language of

disaffiliation and deviance retained a certain prominence, homeless

advocates worked hard to emphasize the structural determinants of

homelessness (economic decline; the dismantling of the welfare state, of

which deinstitutionalization can be seen as a part; gentrification and

redevelopment in areas susceptible to it)." (Mitchell, 179) In this

phrasing in particular, it becomes clear that there are real political and

social consequences to gentrification and that for the homeless population

in Mitchell's discussion, these are distinctly negative.

So would this be illustrated by the experience of many of the Mexican-

American populations living in South Tucson. Our Walking Tour took us

through the downtown redevelopment projects that have made Rio Nuevo such

an appealing destination and that have led to much of the corporate

development here. The fact that Tucson is both an ethnic enclave and is

one of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods in the United States stands in

direct contrast to the development boom at the heart of the city as well as

in the University area. The heightened isolation of… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Racism and America's Urban Cycle Question."  Essaytown.com.  May 13, 2009.  Accessed October 15, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/racism-america-urban-cycle-question/139819.