the Wall Street Journal has an interesting article about "The End of White Flight" (i.e. the white gentrification of American cities).
Decades of white flight transformed America's cities. That era is drawing to a close.
In Washington, a historically black church is trying to attract white members to survive. Atlanta's next mayoral race is expected to feature the first competitive white candidate since the 1980s. San Francisco has lost so many African-Americans that Mayor Gavin Newsom created an "African-American Out-Migration Task Force and Advisory Committee" to help retain black residents.
"The city is experiencing growth, yet we're losing African-American families disproportionately," Mr. Newsom says. When that happens, "we lose part of our soul."
For much of the 20th century, the proportion of whites shrank in most U.S. cities. In recent years the decline has slowed considerably -- and in some significant cases has reversed. Between 2000 and 2006, eight of the 50 largest cities, including Boston, Seattle and San Francisco, saw the proportion of whites increase, according to Census figures. The previous decade, only three cities saw increases.
The article goes on to discuss many aspects of this reversal, including some truly disgusting behavior on the part of white parents in Brooklyn, who objected to their school selling ice cream as a fundraiser and tried to get the school district to open a new school in the same area so they could have their way with it.
Elsewhere in Brooklyn, in a majority African-American section of the borough, Councilwoman Letitia James says a handful of predominantly white parents last year asked her if some of their local tax money could be steered to schools in a nearby neighborhood. The parents wanted their kids in schools with a more diverse racial mix, Ms. James says, rather than the majority-black schools in her district.
The parents felt "tax dollars should follow the children, and not the school," Ms. James says. She denied their request.
The sad thing is that this gentrification could be a good thing for everyone involved if it weren't conducted as a classic Jacobsian destruction of diversity, coupled with clear racial geographical discrimination.
So WWJJD? Dumb question. The better question is, what should we do, we who live in these cities directly affected? It's a hard question for me to answer, because I now live in Oakland. When I lived in San Francisco, the destruction of its diversity affected me directly. But now that I live in the semi-suburban, and heavily black, heavily diverse, extension, the destruction of diversity in San Francisco benefits Oakland to a certain extent.
That is to say, working and middle-class blacks driven out of SF by the cost of living may end up in Oakland, where it's cheaper to live, dropping their job skills and, if they're business owners, employment opportunities here. Upper middle class blacks potentially driven out of SF by the destruction of the black community there could bring job skills, employment opps, and cash and investment capital to Oakland.
I don't know if this is in fact what has happened here. Oakland's downtown has been seeing a enormous condo-building boom and gentrification of its street-level businesses in the past couple of years. The condos will not sell; none of them opened before the housing market busted. But maybe they'll be converted to rentals, who knows? I guess if I end up staying in Oakland long-term, I'll find out.