Saturday, April 28, 2018

Edward G. Goetz's "The One-Way Street of Integration"

Edward G. Goetz is the Director of the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs at the University of Minnesota, and co-Director of the University-Metropolitan Consortium. He has published widely, including New Deal Ruins: Race, Economic Justice, and Public Housing Policy.

Goetz applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The One-Way Street of Integration: Fair Housing and the Pursuit of Racial Justice in American Cities, and reported the following:
My book is about the problematic ways that we pursue racial residential integration in the U.S. In the book I argue, as others have before me, that integration efforts have been and will continue to be an ineffective way of achieving racial justice in America.

Page 99 of The One-Way Street of Integration provides an illustration of at least two of the arguments that underpin my case. The page begins mid-sentence, describing the aborted effort during the Nixon Administration in the early 1970s to force predominantly white suburban communities to accept federally subsidized housing. Nixon’s activist-HUD Secretary, George Romney (Mitt’s father), aggressively pursued the integration of suburban communities by attempting to sanction exclusionary suburbs that refused to accept low-cost, HUD-subsidized housing. His efforts triggered a predictable white-backlash, ironically erupting in his home-state of Michigan, against such a heavy-handed approach. In the face of this white, suburban backlash, Nixon quickly marginalized Romney and undercut his initiative. The agency’s bold integration effort was over.

The bottom half of the page notes that the leaders of black communities in American cities were not even very supportive of Romney’s initiative, seeing in it a flow of housing investment away from central cities and into suburban communities, a flow that would further impoverish those cities and benefit very few black families in the end.

The rest of the book presents a larger set of arguments regarding integration efforts, as well as a historical overview of how this issue has been manifest in U.S. housing policy since the 1940s. Integration efforts are generally contrasted with ‘community development’ efforts that focus instead on building community power as a means of attaining greater racial justice.

The book argues that integration efforts accept white racism and build policy efforts to accommodate that racism. Integration efforts place the burden for integration on people of color, requiring that they accept the difficulties of moving into often hostile communities, but doing so in small enough numbers not to trigger white flight. Thus, integration efforts both mandate that people of color be minorities in all of the communities in which they live, and they elevate the ‘mostly white’ neighborhood as the ideal. Integration is too often defined as that degree of diversity that whites will tolerate. In contrast, community building approaches focus on strengthening the economic and political capacities of communities of color, an approach to racial justice that is not based on accommodating white racism.
Learn more about The One-Way Street of Integration at the Cornell University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: New Deal Ruins.

--Marshal Zeringue