We all know the story of how cities like Detroit, Gary, and Baltimore became predominantly black.
First the businesses fled, then whites with the ability to move to the suburbs.
But the black middle class also took flight, and around 1990 or so there was a second exodus.
Most left to take advantage of the amenities offered in the suburbs–better public schools loom large here. But they also left because, like their white counterparts, they express a great deal of disdain and disgust towards behaviors associated with the black poor, and in many cases towards the black poor themselves.
When many of us talk about or write about "black politics" we usually focus on RACIAL politics, examining the differences between black and white attitudes, or on the way resources are withheld from black people in general. As a result we ignore intra-racial politics.
However, we do this to our peril. Empirically speaking, ignoring this leaves us unable to explain growing black conservatism. It also leaves us unable to explain the relative LACK of black concern about a variety of pressing problems that tend to affect poor and working class blacks. Politically speaking, ignoring this leaves us unable to organize. It's hard to contest the neoliberal turn when the people you hate the most are presented as its primary victims.
Yesterday the Associated Press released an article that examined how the opportunities provided by the burst housing bubble creates significant intra-racial tension. Although the article is titled "Foreclosure helping change color of some suburbs" this isn't about color as much as it's about class. Read it, then think about this question. It's in the "black community's" interest to build wealth and to develop social capital. It's also in the "black community's" interest to support the freedom and liberty for individuals to live how they see fit, regardless of their race/class/religion. These interests cannot co-exist in this case. Which should win out? The Associated Press: Foreclosures helping change color of some suburbs.