Friday, April 12, 2013

If Only...

America has lived for decades with this myth that mixing races lowers property values. In fact, the opposite may be true. Some studies from the 1970's showed that mixed-race neighborhoods, if they could stabilize, held their property values better than homogeneous ones. If anyone can live in a particular neighborhood, then it has a larger customer base. On top of which, quality mixed-race housing is an incredibly scarce resource. When demand is greater than supply, prices go up....

Capitalism: it actually works sometimes. If only America would let it.


To sift through the census data for (Kansas City, MO's) 49/63 and ask "Is the neighborhood integrated?" is to pose the wrong question. The only question you can ask is "Who in the neighborhood has integrated?"...It's entirely possible that 49/63 will gentrify, drive out older residents, and lose all its character. It could also backslide into urban decay, sending families with children out the door. The relationships in the neighborhood will decide. "True integration," as Martin Luther King said, "will be achieved by true neighbors who are willingly obedient to unenforceable obligations."

If you turn on your television these days, you hear a lot of old white people talking about this "real America," some apple-pie, Bedford Falls, Walt Disneyfied idea of a simpler country, a "time of innocence" that we've lost. They're right. It's gone. We destroyed it so we wouldn't have to share it with black people. We gave up real neighborhoods so we could pay more to have "protection" inside the regional profit silos of HomeServices of America. We gutted (Kansas City's) Blue Hills, and now you have to go to Orlando to get it back. Only that's the big lie at the heart of the J.C. Nichols dream. Desirable associations aren't something you can buy. They're something you have to make.

There's only one way America's neighborhoods will begin to integrate: people have to want it more than vested public and corporate interests are opposed to it. And more people should want it. Mixed-race, mixed-income housing is a product we need on the market. 

-Tanner Colby, Some Of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration In America

Update, 11:06 AM: A blast from the past: "There's a beautiful British word for this: they call it 'gentrification.'"

1 comment:

Vanessa said...

This is cool!