Ethnicity& Race in Urban History
Despitethe state efforts to rectify past racial injustices, there are stillsome crucial discrepancies arising from historical bias based onrace. Over decades, government administrations have done much indistributing resources across various races and income groupsalthough notable differences still exist. For instance, the JerseyCity has a quarter of the households earning less than $25,000 peryear, third earns under $35,000, and more than 40% earn less than%50,000 (Malone 1). This discrepancy is also notable in the wagedistribution over half of the city’s wage is earned by the topfifth while the bottom fifth account for less than 3% of the wages.The average income per household is $72,000 where blacks, Latinos,and Asians account for $45,000, $38,000 and $91, 000 respectively. Inaddition, the per capita income stands at $ 43,000 for Asians and$49,000 for whites representing more than double that of Blacks andLatinos (Malone 1).
Thesetrends are also demonstrated in the unemployment and poverty ratesacross the city. For instance, the unemployment rate for whites andAsians, Blacks and Latinos is 6%, 14%, and 10% respectively.Similarly, the rate of unemployment is 24% for Blacks, 27% of Latinosand 13 % for Asians and Whites (Malone 2.). Malone further explainsthat the rate of poverty has remained consistent at about 20 % formore than three decades. Understanding the reason for this variationremains the essential aspect of this discussion.
Thecause of these ethnic groups being left behind started in the late1600s. The descendants of the original colonies, especially the firstEnglish inhabitants exploited the growth in economic stakes (Doob136). These people and their families possessed valuable lands fromtheir ancestors. With their political leadership, they were able tosell their lands to new arrivals and consequently enrichedthemselves. For instance, the grandson of John Winthrop from theMassachusetts Bay Colony claimed that “it was little reward” fromthe predecessors who wasted plentiful estate to lay down thecommencement in the growth and affluence of the country (Doob 138).It was also noticeable that the port cities of Boston, New York, NewPort and Philadelphia harbored a select group of traders who didbusiness with the colonies also united with the leadership cluster.In the process, vast land owners and the affluence merchants wereseparated from other local settlers (Doob 137).
Thenew arrivals blended well with the political bosses who viewed theirorganizations as presenting a” government with human face” (Doob136). The political bosses were corrupt and provided food, housingand jobs for the new arrivals as well joining them for their culturaland religious activities. This way, the immigrants gained protectionand leverage over the local settlers. The problems of the localsettlers were further compounded by gentrification. The movement ofmore affluent people into low-income areas causes the value of localtaxes, rent, and other property values to rise. This leads to pricingout the local settlers who are typically lower working class(Muntzinger 1.). This problem is evidenced by the increase inhigh-poverty neighborhoods between 1970 and 2010 (Grabansky andButler 1.). The number increased from 1,100 to 3,100 within thatperiod. Grabansky and Butler found surprising results that some ofthese impoverished areas were a wealthy neighborhood in 1970 (2).Therefore, the discrimination by the political bosses andgentrification hugely led to dilapidation in the status of theexisting ethnic groups.
TheMinorities and the poor working class whites need to exercise thepower to benefit from the growth of their cities. The majority of theBlack administrators in economically deprived cities accept thepro-growth framework. The growth and development in these citiespresent decent low-cost housing, efficient healthcare system andadequately funded schools (Doob 146). The minorities need to takeadvantage of linkage as well as supporting it to benefit from suchdevelopments. Linkage requires corporations operating within the cityto provide commodities or services that aid the residents. Suchrequirements include a fee for low-cost housing as well as othersubstantial products or services and community benefits agreements. Aprominent Mayor in Boston, Ray Flynn, actively proposed linkage inthe 1980s and developers committed over $76 million in linkage fundssix years after its initiation (Doob 146).
Thisfaction should also promote and strengthen organizations at thegrassroots level to champion their political, economic and socialrights. For instance, the Blacks and Whites formed the NationalAssociation of Colored People (NAACP) in 19009 (Doob 146). Theorganization has over the decades spearheaded the equality ofpolitical, education as well as social and economic rights byutilizing legal and civil actions. Besides, public – privatepartnerships should be supported. For example, the Jersey CityEconomic Development Corporation (JCED) initiated the era ofpublic-private partnership (Malone 3.). JECD is a non-profitorganization formed with the objective of promoting, encouraging andassisting the industrial economic and commercial development as wellas creating job opportunities and the expansion of the tax base ofJersey City (Malone 4.). The government provides tax abatements,urban enterprise zones, and grants to aid in the formation of thesepartnerships.
Therole of faith-based organizations in the community is also vital. TheDudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (D.S.N.I) has broughtsignificant developments in Roxbury corner since 1985 (Jasper 3.).The residents bear witness to the changes achieved against odds. Theinitiative aimed at providing more than housing services as was thecase with other programs. The D.S.N.I designed to promote smallbusinesses to reduce unemployment in Dudley Street. The program hasseen the construction and rehabilitation of projects that haveconsequently provided employment to local people (Grabansky andButler 8.).
Theminority groups can also exercise their political power by engagingin various interest group activities for group growth. An example isseen from the involvement of the Asian Americans in the grassrootsprotests and lobbying Congress to acquire redress who were relocatingduring the Second World War in the 1970s and 1980s ( Doob 143). Fromtheir effort, President Reagan signed legislation that saw themreceive monetary compensation as well an apology. Additionally, theminority groups should form multiracial coalitions. Doob explainsthat the success of these coalitions depends on the access topersonnel and resources as well building communication andunderstanding (155).
Intheir quest to reap maximum benefits from urban development, theminority groups have to overcome political, social and economicchallenges. In the first place, the faction has to cope and addressthe challenge presented by the “pro-growth” framework. The modelfocuses on the transition of American cities from industrial topost-industrial phase (Doob 142). Irrespective of whether aparticipant in the pro-growth coalition is conservative, liberal orindifferent, they agreed with the elements of the framework to someextent. The coalition of the pro-growth is described as promoting“self-help” ideology (Doob 142) which outlines a set ofguidelines to deal with poor, inner-city minorities. The framework,however, puts the minority groups in a disadvantaged position.
Theframework is seen as supporting a racialized social system. As Doobexplains, Detroit under the Dennis Archer Watch was anticipated to bea “world class city” (147). The mayor emphasized on largeprojects, but his utilization of tax abatements attracted Whitebusiness owners although it was not constrictive for minorities.Archer was criticized for paying less attention to the needs andinterests of the Blacks. To counter such moves, the minorities formmultiracial coalitions to defend their rights.
Neoliberalgovernance has also presented a challenge by privatizing or turningaway most of the functions to the private sector. The governance ischaracterized by the formation of public-private partnerships as seenin Jersey City. As Malone expounds, the decline in manufacturingindustries is attributed to firms competing for urban space as it isbased on use and exchange value (12). Consequently, the residents ofJersey City have lost jobs and loss of hope on getting cheap housing.The minorities now have protested abatement of taxes though it seemsthere is a long way to go. The public-private partnerships alsopresent growth machine manifestations. Jersey City has engaged allthe techniques of neoliberalism including roll-outs and roll-backs,but it has been accused providing less for the residents (Malone18.).
Therealso exists the challenge of perception as observed in Dudley Street.The organizers of urban revitalization plans are usually done by thefoundation office or government agencies (Jasper 4.). The inner cityresidents are later invited as they are viewed as poor, undereducatedor immigrants who are unlucky. The planners consider these residentsas having little to offer. These planners forget that the cityresidents are the real experts on inner city life (Jasper 5.). Hence,community people need to show that they know more and change theperception of the organizers.
Gentrificationalso offers another challenge to be overcome. Gentrification refersto the process whereby the middle and upper-class residentsrehabilitate and revitalize marginal urban neighborhoods. The processinvolves a series of stages and but a growing body of knowledgeclarify that it is an interplay of demand side and supply sidetheories (Grabansky and Butler 15.). On one side, gentrification isviewed as a positive process while on the other hand, it is negative.Gentrification brings development in an area by bringing more capitaland other resources. However, residents are afraid of evictions as in‘Holding Ground the Rebirth of Dudley Street’ video. When peoplenote signs of gentrification, they may be induced to respond throughprotests, vandalism, and arson (Muntzinger 2.). Therefore, residentshave to devise mechanisms to counteract challenges arising fromgentrification as well encouraging the government to exercise itsimminent domain powers.
Therefore,it is evident that there still remain a lot to be done to address theissue of discrepancies that exist among different ethnic and racialgroups. The groups that were left behind regarding development needto be considered to avoid consistency income variations as well aseliminating discrimination. The minority groups needs to realize thecauses for their attributions and take necessary steps to avoid arepeat of the same. The challenges posed by gentrification alsopresent a concern as residents do not always focus on the spilloverbenefits that arise from the process rather than defending their ownrights.
Doob,Christopher Bates. Race,Ethnicity, And The American Urban Mainstream.Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon, 2005. Print.
Grabansky,Jonathan and Stuart Butler. "The Anti-Poverty Case For "Smart"Gentrification, Part 1". BrookingsEducation.1-8., 2010.
Grabansky,Jonathan and Stuart Butler. "The Anti-Poverty Case For "Smart"Gentrification, Part 2". BrookingsEducation.1-6., 2010.
HoldingGround The Rebirth Of Dudley Street.New Day Films: Sarah Lavin, 2014. Video.
Jasper,Jay. "When Activists Win: The Renaissance Of Dudley St.".Walljasper,2016.
Malone,Donal. NeoliberalGovernance and Uneven Development in Jersey City.N.d. TS.Draft of Saint Peter`s University, New Jersey.
Muntzinger,Tabatha. "Team Hipster: The Argument Against Gentrification".Charles& Hudson,2013.
NewDay Films,. HoldingGround The Rebirth Of Dudley Street.2014.