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ENVS 2200 Chapter Notes -White Supremacy, Barely Breaking Even, Thorncliffe Park

Environmental Studies
Course Code
ENVS 2200
Stefan Kipfer

of 1
Muniba AbdulAziz
(week 7) Oct. 25, 2013
Urban Regions II Urban Decentralization: Suburbanization
Parkers views are that novels written around the time after the world war two, identified
in their content democratic socialism and addressed the demand created by the housing
shortages for the war workers and veterans. This set the scene of the many ways lower
middle-class and especially colored people were overlooked. As in an interview, Mr. Day
explains “the railway line is the dividing line- those who live below are not thought of as
being high class as those who live above” (Parker, 76) while referring to the geographical
division of classes in Woodford. Further ways of this marginalization is seen as working-
class relies on the state for affordable accommodation and is subject to its whims while
upper middle-class is not. Gans talks about how in London, white working class thought
they were special who other people should serve and protect and certain jobs and
residential locations were beneath this white supremacy. When he tried to bring middle-
class in contact with West-Enders (the upper white class) they refused and hardly
participated because of their fear of inferiority and deficiency of the lower middle class
Parker and Hayden’s readings both give us the same kind of microscope to look at how
housing flourished in white-supreme racial suburbs called ‘sitcom’ suburbs because they
were like the sitcoms you see on the television of the perfect house and family with the
American way of life. Parker says these Levittowners were Catholics, Jews, non-religious
people that came together for common causes like ‘child care’ because they were all
white and lived in the same neighbourhood. Adding to this picture, Hayden talks about a
community called Levittown created my Levitt and Sons, who used standardized methods
of housing designs to mass produce the largest white housing community. This was the
time when such builders and industrialists backed the McCarthy policy for private
lobbying and providing FHA insurance for ‘supposed’ production advances to private
builders, abolition of zoning and building codes, dissolving the union labour and solving
the post war housing shortage. More towns in competition to Levittown were built like
Landia, Lakewood and Park Forest, all white-tenant only housing communities. This was
sold as the American dream through Hollywood and created great competition to buy and
spend more furthering the capitalistic mode of production and racial segregation. Land
deeds were restricted to only white people and there was gender discrimination towards
bank lending to single mothers. Hayden states that the ‘split’ disadvantaged mostly the
women, the elderly and the low income people.
Maybe the racial segregation or gender issues have subdued in recent times but there are
‘ghettos’ and lower-middle class communities like Thorncliffe Park, East York that aren’t
much different today in Toronto. Working as a builder I know that real estate, bankers and
the construction sector play a very important role in setting down and planning for
suburbs, especially when private owners or individual builders have no room to
manoeuvre when it comes to getting permits passed, its all city controlled and their
planners decide which community resides where. We can still find the ‘Little Italy,
‘China town’ or ‘Greek town’ within the GTA and the surrounding suburbs; the idea of
racial and segregation laws being made my politicians is very much a reality today.
1. Simon Parker, Urban Theory and the Urban Experience, pp. 74-84
2. Dolores Hayden, “Sitcom Suburbs” Building Suburbia (New York: Pantheon, 2003) 128-153