ENVS 2200 Lecture Notes - Barely Breaking Even, Wage Labour, Racial Segregation In The United States
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29 Nov. 2013
‘Race’, Racism and Urban Space
Both Parker and Nightingale’s readings talk about the racism and segregation
toward the African Americans and low income working class in the US. Parker
explains that ghettos in the 20th century were residential districts with one
predominant ethnic or cultural group and were similar to the ethnic enclaves such
as the ‘Chinatown.’ The Chicago consensus showed that African Americans
remained highly segregated in these ghettos. This segregation created the white
suburbs due to the restriction on plot developments in order to keep housing
densities low and allow for construction of only expensive family type housings.
Such land segregation with the influence of economic exclusion resulted in
poverty, crime, low educational achievement and poor health, in return, creating
a vicious circle of racism and poverty.
Nightingale makes a similar argument about segregation. It was everywhere as
the former slave owning cities were finding new ways to attain political
supremacy and this racial control was done through segregation. The greatest
way this racial control was spread throughout the world in colonial countries like
India, South Africa, and Hong Kong through the control of urban real estate
markets and minimize power of dark-skinned people who could potentially go
against this racial residential segregation by purchasing property in zones that
the ‘whites’ wanted to keep for themselves. The segregationists relied on
powerful institutional connections. as this helped them import and export
peoples, ideas and specific policy tools that were essential in dividing cities.
It is interesting to read Parker and Nightingale’s reviews of the many faces and
complexities of the segregationists and understand how this has changed our
urban cities today. Some principles like the elites progressing at the expense of
wage-labour still exist and some principles like strict black racism has subdued in
general terms as we have African Americans doctors, engineers and corporate
elites today. Globalization and vast movements of labour into and out of the city
may have diversified the urban city, but residential suburbs still act as abodes for
those people who still differentiate themselves as more upper-class,
‘white’ or a certain superior ethnicity.
1. Simon Parker, Urban Theory, chapter 5, p. 89-96
2. Carl Nightingale, “Introduction” Segregation: A Global History of Divided Cities (Chicago: University
of Chicago Press, 2012) pp. 1-16
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