Croker Sack

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." — Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Gentrification in the Pacific Northwest

The Washington Post published an interesting article in today's online edition about the reverse of white flight in Portland and Seattle:

In Parts of Northwest, a Changing Face
Economics Drives White Gentrification in Core Black Neighborhoods of Seattle and Portland

By Blaine Harden
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 19, 2006; A03

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Already the whitest major city in America, Portland is rapidly becoming even whiter at its core.

"The heart of the black community is gone," said Charles Ford, 76, a black activist whose neighborhood in Portland has flipped in recent years from majority black to majority white. "There ain't no center anymore."

About 150 miles north in Seattle, the nation's second-whitest major city, the same process of downtown demographic bleaching is accelerating for the same reasons.

One might think that the integration of all Americans is better than the insular neighborhoods divided by race, but apparently it's not so obviously a good thing:

"I am concerned and I am frustrated because I don't know what the alternatives are," said Norman Rice, who in the 1990s was Seattle's first and only black mayor. "It clearly isn't racist; it's economics. The real question you have to ask yourself is: Is this good or bad?"

What are the alternatives? Well, how about assigning people to particular neighborhoods based on the color of their skin? We could call them "progressive ghettos" and claim that we merely seek to achieve diversity.

Or, maybe we could just be conservative about the whole matter and let free people move around freely.


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