1.08.2009

nowhere to run

i watched the end of suburbia last night, and it dawned on me how white--even for 2004--the whole thing was.

first, let me say that i'm not suggesting folks of color aren't complicit in consumer culture--indeed we are.

but the deification of suburbia and the frenzy (not to mention the means) to escape urban grime were the visions of the dominant culture and those who fully assimilated into it.

suburbia may have started as a way to escape the industrial city, but after awhile it also became a way to escape black folks, the poor and other undesirables.

in some areas, black folks had their own suburbs/country houses--most notably in the south--but, by and large, we stayed in the cities. after the world wars, we'd had enough of "country living" and moved to cities quite deliberately, often with doctors and lawyers living next to janitors and teachers.

until about a generation or two ago, we could not move into the suburbs due to discriminatory housing practices. educational gaps and jim crow kept many of those good, modern jobs out of reach. many of us still cannot afford cars and rely on public transportation.

we're green by default.

so, basically, the film does a good job of summarizing the class issues, but left racism completely out. not that they had to get that deep into it, but talking about america, how we live and where we live and ignoring that element is a little odd.

the featured experts and authors were all white and male, despite the work people of color have done around environmental justice and the consequences of urban flight. i'm sure somebody was doing that in '04.

as far as the solutions presented, new urbanism (gentrification?) seems to be benefiting whiteness and pushing colored folk closer to the true "slums of the future".

i wonder, though, if the omission of racial issues was deliberate. i.e., was the presentation intended to shock the dominant culture into awareness of their role/complicity/perpetuation in this? did they feel that even touching on it would be too much of a tangent?

i don't know.

either way, this isn't meant as an indictment of some sort. what we're gonna do without oil and walmart are important issues that everyone should know about, think about, and be discovering solutions to. i'd certainly recommend watching it.

i just felt a little left out of the discussion.

4 comments:

Raet said...

I too watched the End of Suburbia. I too have noticed Whites coming back to the city and low income Blacks in public housing and Section 8 being sent to the burbs.

ms. bliss honeycomb said...

yeah...when they took down the high rises in baltimore, a lot of people "disappeared". i found out later that they were all on the edge of the city, barely connected to anything, not even bus lines. absolutely ridiculous.

Ojibway Migisi Bineshii said...

I have not seen this yet but have been interested in watching. Have you ever seen "The Sprawling of America: Inner City Blues?" (http://www.gltv.org) In the beginning of this film they do a good job interviewing people in Detroit who were left behind or bulldozed in the white flight and freeways that helped people flock out of Detroit. As the film continues it does involve and more white + male + privileged perspective about land development. They do mention new urbanism and it is gentrification of class and race for sure. I would recommend watching this!

ms. bliss honeycomb said...

wow...no, i haven't seen that one. thanks! i'll look it up.