Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Must not mention urban renewal in a formerly black neighborhood
Eisenberg posted a statement on Facebook that, with good reason, can be construed as racist. Referring to a 2010 Slog post by Dominic Holden, "Urban Decay Officially Consumes All of 23rd and Union," he wrote:
I had forgotten about this article. I am not sure which is more depressing. The 2010 boarded up shut down 23rd & Union, or the protests because it is showing new signs of life and vitality.
Why might this be seen as racist? Because the system that underdeveloped the Central District when it was the largest black community in the Pacific Northwest, and began redeveloping it after the displacement of that community, is not neutral.
This system, which the social scientist Kenneth T. Jackson describes in great detail in Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States, has a long and deep history in urban America, and involved powerful federal and private institutions.
Make no mistake about this: The system was and still is racist. And to say otherwise is to say or imply that blacks caused "urban decay" because they are simply black, and not because of greedy landlords, housing segregation, redlining, underfunded schools, and the near complete absence of meaningful economic opportunities in these neighborhoods.