Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Art of Gentrification

Yesterday, I walked by the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (CHAW) and saw that, below a banner advertising summer camp, there was a banner thanking a real estate agency and another banner thanking an area bank for donating money to CHAW. Let me state that I love CHAW, which taught me to draw and paint and introduced me to a wonderful community. At the same time, these banners suggest a convergence of the interests of the arts community with those of real estate and finance. Does this convergence come at some cost to the arts community and/or to Ward 6?

In 1972, CHAW began by offering art courses at local churches. CHAW then moved into its current location, at 7th and G St SE, in 1980. It is interesting that the Capitol Hill Restoration Society, which has always counted real estate agents and bankers among its members, opposed
CHAW's application in 1978 to use this space, while the ANC supported the application:

"The Capitol Hill Restoration Society voted to oppose the application on the grounds that the four parking spaces would not be adequate, and that the school would create noise and traffic congestion in the residential area." (DC Register Sept. 29, 1978)

In the 1970s, the role of artists in communities was in transition, as discussed by Vanderbilt University sociologist Richard Lloyd. Even as late as 1976, political scientist Daniel Bell argued that artists were a threat to the economic order. More bohemian artists had long criticized the wealthy and
capitalists, as well as mass culture, often understood as epitomized by the suburbs. Bell thought that the 1960s counterculture lifestyles had infiltrated American society and might undermine our economic system. Viewing CHAW artists as threatening mainstream society with their counter-cultural lifestyle and politics, as well as their "non-profit" community art school, might explain the decision of the Capitol Hill Restoration Society to oppose CHAW's request at first.

However, as Brooklyn College sociologist Sharon Zukin explains, some middle-class professionals during the 1960s were drawn to the art world and artistic lifestyles. Artistic knowledge of and taste for counter-culture art also became new forms of status. In New York City, the city government and real estate developers specifically targeted these groups as the new residents for loft developments. According to Richard Lloyd, artists in Chicago created an environment conducive to a new kind of economy based around culture, aesthetics, and the arts, replacing the earlier, more rigid Fordist economy and the traditional working class. (Columbia University sociologist Saskia Sassen has argued that "global cities" worldwide have made this shift away from production and the working class towards a cultural and service economy, which manages production that now functions on a global scale.) In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the real estate and financial industries, as well as city governments, realized that the arts could be mobilized to bring more wealthy individuals into cities and increase returns on real estate investments. They thus realized that the arts could be used to gentrify cities.

In their 1984 article "The Fine Art of Gentrification," Rosalyn Deutsche and Cara Gendel Ryan argue that this convergence of interests involved serious costs. In New York's Lower East Side and East Village, artists created an edgy world of galleries, which inflated rents and pushed out the poor. Many of these poor had once been the working classes, who were further impoverished by Reagan's cuts in social services and educational spending. Father Joaquin Beaumont, the vicar for the Lower East side, noted how close they were to the financial district, where many worked: "I'm sure they would love to live closer instead of commuting to the suburbs every day. I think the plan is for the middle class and upper class to return to Manhattan. That's the gentrification process. It's so unjust. Those with a lot of money are playing with the lives and futures of people who have so little hope." Many artists (not all!) and the art world refused to discuss their complicity in this gentrification and immiseration, but rather perceived it as positive and inevitable.

Are there costs for the arts in Ward 6? This question requires more research, but here are some thoughts:
  • CHAW does a great job including children from all over the Hill by busing them from school to CHAW, providing scholarships for those who can't pay, etc. This is a good example of the way that the arts can bring together people. However, as discussed in an article on an arts festival in a gentrifying area, people in the community appreciated art, but the festival was perceived as a "white" event and as an attempt by more wealthy residents to take control of places. For adults, how might the arts bring together truly diverse communities or imagine new ways of being together?
  • CHAW teaches a certain kind of adult art based primarily in realism and do not follow contemporary trends or local trends in art. What are the politics of such realist art? Is part of the role of art to help us develop new ways of seeing the world? To make the invisible visible? I know that I look at figure drawings and watercolors with different eyes now, but can art make my community visible to me in new ways too?
  • What was CHAW arts education like in the 1970s? What did the CHAW founders like Sally Crowell envision CHAW? Is today's arts education different?
  • What do CHAW instructors and staff think about CHAW's connections with the real estate and financial industries? Is there a cost to this convergence of interests?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Capitol Hill's Decline in the 1920s

I just loved reading Mary Z. Gray's 301 East Capitol, a memoir about life on Capitol Hill in the 1920s. Ms. Gray writes so engagingly about the place and the times. It reminded me of the hilarious and insightful memoirs by Betty McDonald about Pacific Northwest life around the same time. The book is also published by Ward 6's very own Overbeck History Press. Here is one particularly interesting passage about 1920s life on Capitol Hill:
It wasn't just that there were not other children around; all of Capitol Hill seemed to be becoming decrepit. If Mama weren't having Grandpap's elderly sisters to Sunday dinner, she was making 'courtesy calls' on maiden ladies in black dresses who cherished 'papa's' memory, and feared that their inheritance was not enough to see them through. Consequently, their inherited family houses badly needed upkeep and repairs, but the money wasn't there to do it. Many once-elegant houses were falling apart. Capitol Hill was beginning its downhill slide, which didn't begin to reverse upward for the next 30 or more years. (p. 89)
I have sent a message to Ms. Gray asking why this downhill slide happened in the 1920s, but I haven't yet heard back. The Great Depression didn't happen until 1929. Any ideas why this downhill slide occurred in the 1920s? 

P.S. She also talks about her parents going to a Mexican restaurant on, she thinks, Pennsylvania Ave. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What is affordable housing? (II)

While I still think these signs are made by developers to undermine opposition to the Hine redevelopment by labeling such opposition elitist or anti-low-income, let's look more closely at this sign:


How might the number of low-income units be increased at the Hine site?
  • The easiest way to provide more housing for "low-income" people would be to turn all the 158 proposed housing units into low-income units, such as by allowing only residents who earn less 30% of Area Median Income, which is $32,250. (See the table below for the current unit breakdown).
  • The number of "low-income" residents would be increased by using the DC Median Income, as opposed to the DC Metropolitan Area Median Income (AMI), to calculate who can live in low-income housing. As I discussed in a previous post, Hine has five units for those making less than $32,250, which is 30% of DC Metro AMI. However, the DC Metro AMI includes the incomes of those in DC and in the wealthy suburbs. In contrast to the DC Metro AMI of $107,500, DC's median income is actually $58,526. So, by using the $58,526 figure, we can increase the number of "low-income" people and especially "low-income" workers:
Hine Housing Units
Percent AMI Income Level Income Level Proposed Units

(DC Metro AMI, $107,500)
(DC Median, $58,526)
30% AMI$32,250 $17,558 5 units
60% AMI$64,500 $35,116 29 units
80% AMI$86,000 $46,821 12 units

Total: 46 affordable +

112 market-rate units

= 158 units

The five units at the $17,558 income level could then go to those working full-time at minimum wage, as well as disabled or elderly poor residents, who would not have to compete for those spaces against these workers (full-time pay based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics data on DC-area wages):
  • Barber/Salon Shampooers $19,390
  • Cashiers $21,780
  • Food Preparation Workers $22,510
  • Pharmacy Aides $26,020
  • Teaching Assistants $30,130
  • Floral Designers $30,800
  • Preschool Teachers $32,850
  • Rehabilitation Counselors $35,010
These workers would compete with each other for 29 units. Then, there would be a whole other set of 12 units for the following workers:
  • Dental Assistants $40,520
  • Medical/Clinical Lab Technicians $43,990
  • Carpenters $45,200
  • Police/Fire/Ambulance Dispatchers $45,260
  • Coaches and Scouts $45,570
This would leave the remaining 112 market-rate units to the following workers (or to the unemployed who can afford the market rate):
  • Securities/Commodities/Financial Services Sales Agents $97,750
  • Public Relations/Fundraising Managers $125,410
  • Aerospace Engineers $128,520
  • Pediatricians $131,760
  • Computer/Info Systems Managers $141,770
  • Lawyers $155,750
  • Dentists $168,200
  • Chief Executives $201,010
  • Obstetricians/Gynecologists $220,250
  • Surgeons $234,740
Yes, more low-income housing would be available by using DC Median Income or by inviting only those considered "low-income" -- a building full of preschool teachers, food preparation workers, and ambulance dispatchers, for example -- to be residents. Even if these signs are meant to undermine opposition to the Hine redevelopment (by calling such opposition elitist or anti-low-income), these signs might galvanize people to really increase low-income housing in Hine and elsewhere in Ward 6. In her May Hill Rag article, Jenny Reed wrote, "Over the last decade, half of the low-cost rental housing options have disappeared in the midst of DC's renaissance." These signs might have been meant honestly as calls for low-income housing in the face of its dramatic disappearance in the District.

P.S. Of course, one could also introduce more levels of income to capture other groups of workers too. However, there are other questions, such as do the low-income units enough space for families? and how long will the low-income units remain low-income?

Monday, June 18, 2012

What is affordable housing?

Regarding the Hine Junior High site, a commenter on a previous post remarked, "The project has 30% affordable housing, how is that 'very little' for a new development?" Yes, it is great that the DC government requires that developers include some housing that is not as expensive as market-rate housing. Yet, let's look at the proposed affordable housing and see what is meant by affordable housing.

The Hine developers propose 158 housing units. Earlier this month, Greater Greater Washington reported that Hine "will include 46 low-income housing units, with 5 units at 30% area median income (AMI), 29 at 60% AMI, and 12 at 80% AMI." AMI means Area Median Income. The DC government uses the DC Metropolitan Area Median Income, which is $107,500.

Hine Housing Units

Percent AMI Income Level Number of Proposed Units in Hine

30% AMI$32,250 5 units

60% AMI$64,500 29 units

80% AMI$86,000 12 units

Total: 46 affordable units +

112 market-rate units ("unaffordable"?)

= 158 units

As Housing Complex discussed, "housing tagged as 'affordable' is actually out of reach for most families." In contrast to the wealthy suburbs, the DC median income is $58,526, which means that 50% of DC residents make less than $58,526 (and 50% make more than that). Therefore, it is possible that the "affordable housing" residents in Hine, the 29 units at 60% AMI and the 12 units at 80% AMI, will all be above the median DC income.

It seems like the non-working poor (disabled or elderly, for example) are being put into competition for affordable housing not only with the working poor but also with the professional, middle-class. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data on DC-area wages, employees working full-time in the following jobs have to compete for just five units:
  • Barber/Salon Shampooers $19,390
  • Fast-Food Cook $19,660
  • Dishwasher $20,600
  • Cashiers $21,780
  • Food Preparation Workers $22,510
There are many more units for those with much higher incomes. As Housing Complex reported over a year ago, the DC government had discussed, but did not implement, a different distribution of incomes:
40 percent to households making between zero and 30 percent of AMI, 40 percent to households making between 31 and 50 percent of AMI, and 20 percent to households making between 51 and 80 percent of AMI. Currently, most projects are in the 60 percent range.
Or we could use the DC median income of $58,526 instead (not the DC Metropolitan AMI of $107,500 that includes the wealthy suburbs)? Why are we pitting the middle class against the poor? 

P.S. According to a Hill Rag article in May by Jenny Reed: "Over the last decade, half of the low-cost rental housing options have disappeared in the midst of DC's renaissance."

P.P.S. See also What is affordable housing? (II).

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Digging Deep: An Interview with Brett Williams

On Wednesday, June 13th, 2012, I interviewed Brett Williams, American University anthropology professor and author of the spectacular Upscaling Downtown: Stalled Gentrification in Washington, DC. I talk with her here about her book and whether she would change it today. She also talks about her current projects. The interview is just fascinating.

P.S. It sounds like I edited the audio, but this was just my first attempt at a kind of podcast and I had to adjust the volume in various places.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fastest Gentrifying Neighborhoods?

The Post discussed a report on the fastest gentrifying zip codes the US. The author of the report listed those zip codes with the largest increases in the white percentage of the population from 2000 to 2010. In the report, the fastest gentrifying zip code is in Columbia, SC, and similar zip codes exist in DC and NYC. Ideally, as the author noted, gentrification should be measured by class or income, but the Census 2010 income data is not yet public. However, technically, gentrification is the displacement of lower-income or working-class people with higher-income or professional people (the "gentry"). Therefore, it should be measured by class or income, though race directly shapes income, employment, and housing opportunities.

Several of the zip codes mentioned have so few residents, like 100 or 200, that the movement of even a handful of people can look like an exodus when put in percentages. In the #1 fastest gentrifying zip code in the country (Columbia, SC's 29202), the white population increased by 35 people over a ten year period (1). Now, it might be more interesting to ask where the 133 African Americans went; maybe they passed away, maybe they moved away, maybe they were displaced by a new business? Many of these areas with low populations, such as #1 and #4 Roanoke, seem to be commercial or industrial areas. It is difficult to say that these area are gentrifying, though industrial areas can become centers of "loft living" as discussed by Sharon Zukin and can become centers of gentrifying lifestyles with certain kinds of cafes, restaurants, entertainment, etc.

Measuring gentrification by race does not capture the essence of gentrification. Poor whites do exist and do move. The #2 fastest gentrifying zip code is Chattanooga's 37408, which overlaps with Census Tracts 16 and 2. Census Tract 16 has 25% whites and, at the same time, 97% of the households make under $30,000 and their median income has decreased 24% over the past ten years to under $10,000 (2). This is an area with many low-income elderly residents. Census Tract 2's median income has increased 15% over the past 10 years to just over $14,000. There is similar poverty around the #17 zip code also in Chattanooga, located very close to #2. These areas seem to be outside the commonly accepted definition of gentrification.

Gentrification is happening, but this kind of list does not help us to understand it. Gentrification as the movement of higher-income people into a city is not inevitable or just random, but rather is usually the result of targeted and organized investments by cities, real estate developers, and companies offering jobs and lifestyles (certain kinds of cafes, restaurants, entertainment, etc.) that lure these people to specific cities and to specific neighborhoods. We can definitely see such investments and their resulting migrations in Brooklyn, Washington, DC, and other large coastal cities, though more research is needed to say whether and how it might be happening elsewhere. If poor and working-class people are leaving cities, then where are they going? To the second-tier non-coastal cities? To suburbs? To small towns? The Census 2010 income data, as well as other wealth data, will help us understand today's gentrification much better!

(1) I am not certain whether this "white" category includes Hispanics, but I do believe it does. This data comes from the Census 2000 and Census 2010. 
(2) This data comes from the American Community Survey 2005-2009 data in the great NYT interactive map.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Building Community with Public Housing Residents

Yesterday, in Garfield Park, I spent the afternoon with former residents of Arthur Capper public housing. Garfield Park is located around 2nd and G St SE, right next to the Results Gym. "Cappers," as the former residents call it, was located just on the other side of the 395 freeway between 1958 and 2005, when it was replaced by a mixed income development funded in part by the federal HOPE VI program. 707 households regularly lived at Cappers. Public housing is often seen as lacking in civic spirit, as housing isolated individuals and crime, and as destructive to the residents and others.

Well, the Cappers group definitely complicates these assumptions. I got to know the Cappers through their Facebook page, which has 370 members. Yesterday, many of the Capper residents spoke about Cappers as one big "family"; how they knew everyone and everyone watched out for each other. I asked people when they moved out. Many grew up there and then moved out as young adults, while others lived there much longer. One man expressed the general feeling: I moved out, but I never left. Everyone talked about visiting regularly. The common refrain was that they all had grown up together and they were family, and they needed a way to reconnect with former Arthur Capper family members and keep the community alive.

Cappers residents remembered the immense number of activities and the fun that they had in their old homes. They also remembered some of the difficulties. Their rec center offered football, baseball, soccer, track, golf, and chess. There were regular BBQs and band performances, by resident bands and visitors, including Chuck Brown. There were tutors and coaches, who took a lot of time with them, which they sought to repay later in their lives.

With Cappers gone, the former residents have turned to Garfield Park as their family/community space. While living in or visiting Cappers, they spent a great deal of time in the Park. I know about the following activities they hold there during the year:
  • Annual reunion on the Fourth of July
  • Annual Labor Day picnic
  • Horseshoes every Friday after 5pm
  • Bowling throughout the winter (at a bowling alley on Pennsylvania Ave)
  • Various other events (yesterday, about 25 former residents gathered for a fundraiser for their reunion).
The Cappers residents are very interested in building community around Garfield Park with those living around the Park and those now living where Cappers used to stand. Yesterday, I did meet four people who lived outside Cappers and maintain contact with Cappers residents. The residents want others to understand why they come to Garfield Park and to come together to learn about each other and improve the Park.

On the fourth of July, drop by Garfield Park and talk with the Cappers residents. You could go up to someone there and say, "I heard about the Cappers reunion. Did you live in Cappers? What was it like living in there?"

Friday, June 8, 2012

Official Statement from DCHA

Thanks to the DCHA for their comment on Potomac Garden (6/7/2012):

Ms. Bockman,

The plans you cited are from 2001 when DCHA was making a decision on which Public Housing site to redevelop. We considered several sites for our HUD HOPE VI applications. We chose Capper/Carrollsburg, which was selected and received a HOPE VI grant for $34.9M. We do not have plans to redevelop Potomac Gardens at this time.

Dena Michaelson
Director, Public Affairs & Communications
DC Housing Authority

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Great article on Swampoodle

The Streets of Washington has published a fascinating article on Swampoodle and the Government Printing Office up on N. Capitol near Union Station. Wonderful pictures too! More (unverified) info on Swampoodle, from website for a Swampoodle play took place last year.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Handwritten signs around Hine

These signs have popped up around Hine over the past few weeks:

I had thought that these signs had been posted by the developers to show "popular" support for a larger Hine building and to criticize those who wish to reduce the building's size as anti-renter or anti-low-income. The Hine project has very little affordable housing. Now, I am wondering whether several different people are posting the signs. Someone told me yesterday that he thought I was posting the signs. I am not, though they are a nice use of loose space (property used in a new, unintended way: light poles reused as spaces for political speech). Maybe there could be more political debate or engagement with the signs (by writing comments on them or adding other signs)? Who do you think is posting the signs? There is a poll to the right.

P.S. Regarding the last two photos in the slideshow, what is the story behind the Olivia dog signs? I found the last photo quite intriguing, another nice use of loose space.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Say Goodbye to Potomac Gardens?

*This wasn't intended as a breaking story, but rather a discussion of the problems around redevelopment for public housing residents. The plans to redevelop Potomac Gardens/Hopkins may have been terminated due to lack of funds, but there were redevelopment plans. I'm waiting for a statement from DCHA.*
The DC government is planning to redevelop Potomac Gardens and Hopkins public housing into a mixed income rental/homeownership development:
A joint venture redevelopment between DCHA and a private developer to do a one-for-one replacement of 510 units of public housing located in the present Potomac Gardens and Hopkins Plaza developments. The proposed redevelopment will be a mixed income rental and homeownership containing 510 replacements units out of a total 1,230 units located on the two public housing sites and in the
adjoining neighborhood.
A firm has been brought in as "architects of community." Have you walked around and experienced the "community" at Capitol Quarter, where the same firm planned the community? Will this redevelopment help the public housing residents? Or will the residents be displaced as too poor or not appropriate for the neighborhood? At Ellen Wilson, of the 134 households living there, only "24 families were able to make the successful transition from public housing to homeownership" (DCHA 2008). From Capper-Carrollsburg, the majority of the 707 households were displaced and replaced with those who could pay for the many townhouses starting at $662,000 or more, workforce townhouses with subsidized mortgages for those making $82,800-119,025, and affordable apartments (I was told by the developer that these were for those making around $50,000-60,000). Where did the former public housing residents go? What happened to them?

Potomac Gardens has an important history in the neighborhood as a place that helped many people move from poor agricultural life in the South and start a new life here (while maintaining connections with family in the South):

And Potomac Gardens continues to provide housing to those in great need. As I discussed in a previous post, at a meeting I attended, one Potomac Gardens resident said that she was just like everyone else in the room; she went to work and put her sons through college; she just didn't have enough money to afford non-public housing. According to the DCHA, 40 vacancies are filled there each year. Is there a way to redevelop Potomac Gardens and Hopkins without displacing the residents and without destroying the community and social connections that they have built and depend on? 

P.S. In his "Gentrification and Community Fabric in Chicago" article, John Betancur has shown that the poor rely on social connections much more than those with higher incomes: "Limited in their mobility and exchange value resources, lower-income groups depend on such fabrics far more than do the higher income. In fact, they have fewer choices and are most vulnerable to place-based shifts...the real tragedy of gentrification was not market displacement per se, but community disintegration." Could the "architects of community" be destroying one community (a group in the most need of this community) in the name of building another community for others?

P.P.S. See the official statement by the DCHA: "We do not have plans to redevelop Potomac Gardens at this time."

P.P.P.S. See my more recent post on Potomac Gardens: "Wikipedia and Community History: Potomac Gardens" and "Why is it so difficult to see in Ward 6?"

Has Racism Gone Away in Ward 6?

The short answer is: no. The problem with talking about racism is that most people view racism as a phenomenon of the distant past or as ideas and prejudices usually held by other people who are stuck in the past. The fact that people of many races may marry, be friends, and vote in unexpected ways does not mean unfortunately that racism has gone away. Therefore, we need to think more consciously about how to end racism.

In the Post a couple of Sundays ago, David Alpert of the Greater Greater Washington blog argued that DC was no longer divided by race. Alpert mainly focused on how DC politicians and residents are voting less along racial lines than in the past. He did recognize that there are income and educational inequalities among residents, which correlate strongly with race, but he suggested that these divisions created by "a legacy of segregation and discrimination" have been overcome as demonstrated by DC's "large black professional population" and the fact that all races and ethnicities are having trouble finding affordable housing. The article seems to suggest that racism is over or nearly over in DC because class inequalities are the real issue. Alpert warns that those who bring up race and racism "stoke division...for personal gain." The main dichotomy used in this article is that either you are for one city or you are using racist language for your own personal (political) gain.

Most sociologists would argue that race and class, in fact, work together. University of Wisconsin-Madison sociologists Matthew Desmond and Mustafa Emirbayer have written an extremely helpful article on racism. They argue:
While it is true that poor Whites experience many of the same hardships as poor Blacks, it is not true that poverty somehow de-Whitens poor Whites. In other words, though they are in a similarly precarious economic position as poor Blacks, poor Whites still experience race-based privileges, while poor Blacks are oppressed not only by poverty but also by racism. In a similar vein, well-off people of color cannot “buy” their way out of racism. Despite their economic privilege, middle- and upper-class non-Whites experience institutional and interpersonal racism on a regular basis...
How do whites benefit no matter their class position? As I wrote about in a previous post, GWU sociologist Gregory Squires and his colleagues conducted a study of DC/VA/MD residents and found, among other things, that Blacks were about half as likely as Whites to obtain their first-choice housing unit. Real estate agents, landlords, and banks implement discriminatory practices, such as "racial steering, misrepresentation about the availability of homes, differences in rental rates for the same units and the number of units that were shown, disparities in mortgage interest rates, differential application of particular stands, and others." A recent Post article reported that SunTrust Mortgage's "minority borrowers in 75 geographic markets from Virginia Beach to San Francisco paid more in loan fees or higher interest rates based solely on race or national origin." More generally, Desmond and Emirbayer state:
Social scientists have amassed a significant amount of evidence documenting institutional racism, evidence that demonstrates how White people—strictly because of their Whiteness—reap considerable advantages when buying and selling a house, choosing a neighborhood in which to live, getting a job and moving up the corporate ladder, securing a first-class education, and seeking medical care (Massey 2007; Quillian 2006). That Whites accumulate more property and earn more income than members of minority populations, possess immeasurably more political power, and enjoy greater access to the country’s cultural, social, medical, legal, and economic resources are well documented facts (e.g., Oliver and Shapiro, 1997; Pager 2003; Western 2006).
Amazingly, whites have continued to benefit from being white in a city that has many African American city officials and politicians. So, no, racism has not gone away in DC or Ward 6. Instead of arguing that discussions of race and racism are divisive, we should study how racism and especially institutional racism works in DC and Ward 6, so that we can act to end racism, as well as reduce class inequality, to create "one city."

P.S. Based on an extensive literature review, Desmond and Emirbayer point out five popular fallacies about racism that should be avoided:
  • the ahistorical fallacy views the "legacy of segregation and discrimination" as in the distant past and no longer relevant to the current situation.
  • the fixed fallacy measures racism as increasing or decreasing quantitatively over time and thus seeing a decrease or disappearance in racism in comparison to the Jim Crow past. In contrast, Desmond and Emirbayer argue that there are new forms of racism: "we certainly cannot conclude that there is 'little or no racism' today because it does not resemble the racism of the 1950s. (Modern-day Christianity looks very different, in nearly every conceivable way, than the Christianity of the early church. But this does not mean that there is 'little or no Christianity' today.)" For the new forms of racism, see sociological discussions of racial apathy and color-blind racism.
  • the tokenistic fallacy "assumes that the presence of people of color in influential positions is evidence of the eradication of racial obstacles."
  • the legalistic fallacy "assumes that abolishing racist laws (racism in principle) automatically leads to the abolition of racism writ large (racism in practice)." Desmond and Emirbayer explain: "By way of tangible illustration, consider Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark case that abolished de jure segregation in schools. The ruling did not lead to the abolition of de facto segregation: fifty years later, schools are still drastically segregated and drastically unequal."
  • the individualistic fallacy understands racism as conducted by individual "racists" with racist thoughts and intentions. By saying,“He is a racist; I am not,” we treat "racism as aberrant and strange, whereas American racism is rather normal. Furthermore, intentionality is in no way a prerequisite for racism. Racism is often habitual, unintentional, commonplace, polite, implicit, and well meaning (Brown et al., 2003). Thus, racism is located not only in our intentional thoughts and actions; it also thrives in our unintentional thoughts and habits, as well as in the social institutions in which we all are embedded (Bonilla-Silva 1997; Feagin et al., 2001)" (Desmond and Emirbayer 342-343).
Which fallacies does Alpert's Post op-ed implicitly endorse? How might we end racism?