19.2.08

Little Boxes on the Hillside...


Suburbs, originally uploaded by corremadrid.

Every now and then a read an article that reminds me just how much American concepts of the urban/suburban divide are deeply ingrained in our collective understanding. This week's Economist has an article about "Black Flight". Now, I don't want to go off on the Economist too much. Although it's center-right, it's one of the better sources of world news out there, certainly better then Time or Newsweek. All of that aside though, the ridiculous misinterpretation of demographic changes in Southern California in this article really bother me.

The article is basically about the move of the black population from central LA to suburban (or, more correctly) exurban locations. OK. That's true. And given numerous reasons, both demographic and economic, that is to be expected. Where the article looses me is it's general theme that the suburbanization of blacks is good, either for society or for the suburbanized blacks themselves. It buys into the simplistic binary of suburb/good-city/bad (and J's been reading Judith Butler lately, so don't even get me started on binaries).

Here's Zakcq's general theory of the world: for a long time now, American cities have been generally opposite of the cities in the rest of the world, that is to say, poor in the middle, rich on the outside. I'd say, for about five to ten years now, we've been in the process of inverting that spatial arrangement. New York, Boston and San Francisco are already completing that change, and many other cities are well into the process. There are a lot of reasons that this is happening. Quality of Life is one, but so are housing prices, access to services, costs of transportation and many other things. What this means, in my opinion, is that blacks moving to the exurbs are not following the American Dream. Instead, they are being relegated to the most marginal land, farthest from job opportunities and, since, make no mistake, most of the low paid jobs will remain in the center city, many of these exurban dwellers will be stuck with insanely long and expensive commutes. blech.

Given these stupid notions of suburban superiority it's of little surprise that our housing is in such a crisis.

And as a afterthought this article is really funny.

1 comments:

Jaime 1:07 PM  

hi
excelent blog
i enjoyed the books coment and the pictures.
I m chilean lawyer and study sociology too.
i hope know more about you in the near future
James.
www.jlizamavera.blogspot.com

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