We white Americans don’t particularly care for people of color. First we resist any efforts to integrate the races. Then, in response to court orders, if black families start moving into our neighborhoods we white Americans move further away. Should black families follow, we move even further. This is the gist of Thomas Edsall’s piece in today’s New York Times.
The animosity of whites toward blacks and browns was on full display in HBO’s mini-series Show Me a Hero. White people of Yonkers, New York, yelled and screamed and spat their venom upon city officials who finally and quite reluctantly capitulated to a federal judge’s order to allow the construction of subsidized low-income housing units in previous all-white neighborhoods. The city’s defiance of the order threatened to bankrupt the municipality, which faced tens of millions of dollars in fines.
The series’s director shows us the ugliness of concentrated poverty. Gangs, drugs, illegitimate births, defaced and defiled properties. Who wants that? As it happens, no one, regardless of color.
Despite prolonged attempts to ignore the huge and growing problem of race and poverty in America, a looming reality appears just down the chronological road: whites will be in the minority. I suspect that white America is at least vaguely aware of the eventuality, which could partially explain the vehement strands of anti-immigration sentiment, best expressed by The Donald. To what lengths will a white minority go to subjugate people of color? The strategy is already evident. First, concentrate the dark- and brown-skinned residents into multi-family clusters. As crime inevitably takes hold in such areas, arrest and then imprison the perpetrators. Exclusionary zoning also works, preventing lower-income people from affording the nicer homes surrounding the better schools. Should the courts frustrate these efforts, whites can always escape by movin’ on out.
There was a time in America when we were making progress in de-segregating schools and neighborhoods. But since 2000, roughly, those gains are evaporating. We are re-segregating the population by both race and income.
This will not end well.