Stuck in Place: Urban Neighborhoods and the End of Progress toward Racial Equality

University of Chicago Press
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In the 1960s, many believed that the civil rights movement’s successes would foster a new era of racial equality in America. Four decades later, the degree of racial inequality has barely changed. To understand what went wrong, Patrick Sharkey argues that we have to understand what has happened to African American communities over the last several decades. In Stuck in Place, Sharkey describes how political decisions and social policies have led to severe disinvestment from black neighborhoods, persistent segregation, declining economic opportunities, and a growing link between African American communities and the criminal justice system. As a result, neighborhood inequality that existed in the 1970s has been passed down to the current generation of African Americans. Some of the most persistent forms of racial inequality, such as gaps in income and test scores, can only be explained by considering the neighborhoods in which black and white families have lived over multiple generations. This multigenerational nature of neighborhood inequality also means that a new kind of urban policy is necessary for our nation’s cities. Sharkey argues for urban policies that have the potential to create transformative and sustained changes in urban communities and the families that live within them, and he outlines a durable urban policy agenda to move in that direction.
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About the author

Patrick Sharkey is assistant professor of sociology at New York University.

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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
May 15, 2013
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9780226924267
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / African American Studies
Social Science / General
Social Science / Sociology / Urban
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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An eye-opening account of the transformation of cities and an urgent call to action to prevent another crime wave.

Over the past two decades, American cities have experienced an astonishing drop in violent crime, dramatically changing urban life. In many cases, places once characterized by decay and abandonment are now thriving, the fear of death by gunshot wound replaced by concern about skyrocketing rents.

In 2014, most U.S. cities were safer than they had ever been in the history of recorded statistics on crime. Patrick Sharkey reveals the striking consequences: improved school test scores, since children are better able to learn when not traumatized by nearby violence; better chances that poor children will rise into the middle class; and a striking increase in the life expectancy of African American men.

Sharkey also delineates the combination of forces, some positive and some negative, that brought about safer streets, from aggressive policing and mass incarceration to the intensive efforts made by local organizations to confront violence in their own communities.

From New York’s Harlem neighborhood to South Los Angeles, Sharkey draws on original data and textured accounts of neighborhoods across the country to document the most successful proven strategies for combatting violent crime and to lay out innovative and necessary approaches to the problem of violence. At a time when crime is rising again and powerful political forces seek to disinvest in cities, the insights in this book are indispensable.

Many people characterize urban renewal projects and the power of eminent domain as two of the most widely despised and often racist tools for reshaping American cities in the postwar period. In A World More Concrete, N. D. B. Connolly uses the history of South Florida to unearth an older and far more complex story. Connolly captures nearly eighty years of political and land transactions to reveal how real estate and redevelopment created and preserved metropolitan growth and racial peace under white supremacy. Using a materialist approach, he offers a long view of capitalism and the color line, following much of the money that made land taking and Jim Crow segregation profitable and preferred approaches to governing cities throughout the twentieth century.

A World More Concrete argues that black and white landlords, entrepreneurs, and even liberal community leaders used tenements and repeated land dispossession to take advantage of the poor and generate remarkable wealth. Through a political culture built on real estate, South Florida’s landlords and homeowners advanced property rights and white property rights, especially, at the expense of more inclusive visions of equality. For black people and many of their white allies, uses of eminent domain helped to harden class and color lines. Yet, for many reformers, confiscating certain kinds of real estate through eminent domain also promised to help improve housing conditions, to undermine the neighborhood influence of powerful slumlords, and to open new opportunities for suburban life for black Floridians.

Concerned more with winners and losers than with heroes and villains, A World More Concrete offers a sober assessment of money and power in Jim Crow America. It shows how negotiations between powerful real estate interests on both sides of the color line gave racial segregation a remarkable capacity to evolve, revealing property owners’ power to reshape American cities in ways that can still be seen and felt today.
An eye-opening account of the transformation of cities and an urgent call to action to prevent another crime wave.

Over the past two decades, American cities have experienced an astonishing drop in violent crime, dramatically changing urban life. In many cases, places once characterized by decay and abandonment are now thriving, the fear of death by gunshot wound replaced by concern about skyrocketing rents.

In 2014, most U.S. cities were safer than they had ever been in the history of recorded statistics on crime. Patrick Sharkey reveals the striking consequences: improved school test scores, since children are better able to learn when not traumatized by nearby violence; better chances that poor children will rise into the middle class; and a striking increase in the life expectancy of African American men.

Sharkey also delineates the combination of forces, some positive and some negative, that brought about safer streets, from aggressive policing and mass incarceration to the intensive efforts made by local organizations to confront violence in their own communities.

From New York’s Harlem neighborhood to South Los Angeles, Sharkey draws on original data and textured accounts of neighborhoods across the country to document the most successful proven strategies for combatting violent crime and to lay out innovative and necessary approaches to the problem of violence. At a time when crime is rising again and powerful political forces seek to disinvest in cities, the insights in this book are indispensable.

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