"The White City"

Karol Collymore

A friend of mine emailed this article to me about so-called "progressive" cities. The ones labeled most progressive had one consistent feature: race. From New Geography:

Among the media, academia and within planning circles, there’s a generally standing answer to the question of what cities are the best, the most progressive and best role models for small and mid-sized cities. The standard list includes Portland, Seattle, Austin, Minneapolis, and Denver. In particular, Portland is held up as a paradigm, with its urban growth boundary, extensive transit system, excellent cycling culture, and a pro-density policy. These cities are frequently contrasted with those of the Rust Belt and South, which are found wanting, often even by locals, as “cool” urban places. But look closely at these exemplars and a curious fact emerges. If you take away the dominant Tier One cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles you will find that the “progressive” cities aren’t red or blue, but another color entirely: white.

Then, the article calls out Portland specifically:

The progressive paragon of Portland is the whitest on the list, with an African American population less than half the national average. It is America's ultimate White City. The contrast with other, supposedly less advanced cities is stark.

and:

As the college educated flock to these progressive El Dorados, many factors are cited as reasons: transit systems, density, bike lanes, walkable communities, robust art and cultural scenes. But another way to look at it is simply as White Flight writ large. Why move to the suburbs of your stodgy Midwest city to escape African Americans and get criticized for it when you can move to Portland and actually be praised as progressive, urban and hip?

What drove me to post this is the line, " It's easy to have Scandinavian policies if you have Scandinavian demographics."

I love Portland, as does the friend who emailed this to me. What we want is to increase diversity in Portland, not continue to lose it. The only thing arguably missing here - besides more bike lanes - is more people of color. So how do we as a progressive people make it appealing for people of color to want to stay here? Discuss.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    Sundown laws and an active KKK in Oregon made the state inhospitable for persons of color. My mother was a real estate broker who received death threats for selling a home to an Asian family in the early 60's. Louie Armstrong couldn't find a place to stay overnight.

    An interview team came to Oregon from the East coast and every member remarked in one fashion or another, "This is the whitest state I've ever been in."

    Take a hard look at the leadership in non-profits, civic organizations, even the DPO.

    Keep Oregon Wierd.

  • Carol Brown (unverified)
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    I dunno abt you, but I'm surrounded by color: brown. As in Hispanic. Of course, I do live in Milwaukie, but still. I'm just sayin'.

  • (Show?)

    Karol,

    I think it's a stretch to argue that white artsy types come here as an alternative to dealing with home cities that are......er.....too colorful.

    As a native Oregonian, my take is that there is a Myth of Oregon as Ecotopia and in-migration over the past 30 years is from people who buy into that myth and upon arrival work hard to erase any differences between their fantasy ideal and the actual state.

    They've been pretty danged successful at it too. That there are fewer minorities here than elsewhere in the Urban Pantheon of Progressivity, has more to do with these drivers of midwestern and Californian immigrants, than with any sort of ingrained racism, IMHO.

  • Jake Planton (unverified)
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    I posted his on my facebook a while ago, some interesting comments: Aaron Renn says that "progressive cities" like Portland, Seattle, Austin, Minneapolis, and Denver having less African Americans than the national average "raises troubling questions."

    Seattle has a small black community, but very large Asian and Indian communities (from India). The conclusion that everyone who is not black is white makes his article not about diversity but his own narrowness of view.

    Another writes:

    Moved to a Seattle suburb two years ago from Nashville, TN. At first, I was struck by the lack of African Americans--and in particular, black-owned businesses. There is an odd, "let's not talk about race attitude here"...which comes from a "we're beyond it" place, but often smacks of "not wanting to deal with it." HOWEVER, Seattle has quite the diverse population: the 4th largest Asian population in the U.S. And, mixed marriage is so commonplace it goes virtually unnoticed. (Can't say that about the South--where "miscegenation" still turns heads). And speaking of diversity, estimates for Seattle's gay population vary but are placed as high as 12.9%.

    According to these numbers from 2005, Seattle's black population is 8%, with an Asian population of 14% and Hispanic population of 6%. Another reader addresses the bigger picture:

    The idea that all American cities should have a set percentage of blacks is not only a fundamental misunderstanding of the word “diversity,” as Joyner notes, but a surprisingly ignorant of history and people in general. Did I miss the part of my history class where there was a post-slavery migration of blacks to Denver (little more than a village of cowboys and railroad workers in the 1860s)? Or the part about the plantations in Minneapolis? Of course those cities don’t have as many blacks as Pittsburgh. There was no reason for freed slaves to travel to Seattle or these other cities – many of which were barely on the map at all in 1865. Like all migrating peoples, African-Americans followed geography, opportunity, and personal connections.

    The pathways originally blazed by the underground railroad didn’t go through Austin or Portland, they went through what is now the rust belt, what was then the locus of industry. So, yes, if one ignores history, culture, community, economics, and physical geography, blacks should have spread out evenly throughout the United States. And Arizona and North Dakota should have the same number of Latinos, San Francisco and Des Moines should have proportionally sized Chinatowns, and St. Paul and New Orleans should have equal number of people with Scandinavian heritage.

  • (Show?)

    The basic thesis of this article is:

    "Portland has few minorities, so obviously their planning policies DO NOT benefit minorities; however, Atlanta and Houston have many minorities, so their planning policies obviously DO benefit minorities."

    Correlation does not equal causation.

    The article is thought provoking, to be sure. But there are too many holes in its logic to be the foundation for a serious discussion of whether Portland's planning and transportation policy is actually detrimental to diversity.

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    I don't think you can just make diversity happen. It happens because of economic conditions. The AA community in Portland is there largely because of World War II and the availability of employment at the shipyards for AA people. The growing Latino population is there primary because of the influx of migrants in Oregon agriculture who were the first wave of Latinos who eventually stayed and became upwardly mobile. The truth is Oregon was founded as a white supremacist homeland, changing that will only happen through economic development.

  • ben (unverified)
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    Please consider me among those anxious to point out that strictly speaking, “non-white” ≠ “black.”

    By my way of thinking, the article carries the same undercurrent of ignorant, latent racism that Portland does so well:

    “Civic leaders in city after city duly make their pilgrimage to Denver or Portland to check out shiny new transit systems, but the resulting videos of smiling yuppies and happy hipsters are not likely to impress anyone over at the local NAACP or in the barrios.”

    Putting aside for the moment the fact that scenes composed entirely of smugly satisfied white folks probably don’t do much for people of color on a visceral level, the quoted passage led me immediately to ask: why is the writer using race as an unqualified heuristic for the desirability of one planning policy over the other?

    I was also rather dumbstruck by the fact that if you live in the ’burbs and use public transportation as a means of conveyance, you see plenty of faces that aren’t white — a fact the article fails to mention at all, and perhaps even avoids.

    When you look at places where public transportation sucks out loud, there seems to me to be a strong correlation between the prevalence of car culture over other values. Since moving here I’ve heard lots of people point out enthusiastically that they cannot manage without their cars, and are completely mystified that anyone else actually could. More than any of the other facts and opinions babbled about here and in the article, I apprehend the issue of car culture as being the most ethnically neutral issue at hand.

  • Charlie Burr (unverified)
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    I'd like to see more workforce housing development and specifically more quality projects like the Shaver Green Apartments.

    I live a few blocks away and have been watching the building go up most of last year. It's workfore housing, but it's also clear the architects and builders took pride in what they were doing. There's great attention to detail, and the folks from DECA (the firm who also did the swanky and fantastic Lincoln restaurant) gave some thought to how the building would hold up long-term.

    It's not perfect -- not crazy about the windows -- but imo it compares very favorably with some of what's been built in the Pearl. Overall, it's a fantastic addition to the neighborhood -- especially given that it's built on a former brownfield site.

    Another workforce housing proposal from WPA also builds on the idea that you can have affordable units that are beautiful, inspiring and of course, totally green. Gentrification is a complicated issue, but affordable housing plays a big role in all of this.

  • Lilly (unverified)
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    Oh my goodness, Oregon certainly is white. I remember moving here as a small child from San Francisco in the 70's, and asking my father where all the brown people were?

    As a child in San Francisco I had latino, african american, jewish, and asian friends.

    I grew up here, but my parents had lived in New York, DC, SF, and sort of resigned themselves to the fact that the place they had settled into and began raising a family in -was white bread.

    I know my Jewish mother has felt constantly annoyed by the overwhelming Scandinavian outlook/population here, having listened to her gripe about it all my life.

    To my parents, Portlanders were insulated simpletons that weren't smart enough to integrate their lives and belief systems into a larger, all encompassing, more interesting world view.

    I guess I have my own love/hate relationship with Portland.

  • Bridget (unverified)
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    I moved here from Lincoln, Nebraska nine years ago, and I was shocked to find this city whiter than Nebraska.

    I had to look for, apply and send my children to a school outside of my very white neighborhood of Hillsdale in order for them to have the same economic and cultural diversity that they enjoyed at their neighborhood school in Lincoln!

    I didn't move to Portland for the large percentage of white people.

    I don't know that African-Americans and Other People of Color want different public policy than White People.

    How about we go ask some people? How about we ask some people of color in Atlanta, New York, Dallas, Chicago, about what stops them from moving here?

    I used to live in Aurora, Oregon, which is near Woodburn. Woodburn's population is predominantly Mexican and Central American. They have a thriving downtown. They have neighborhoods that welcome people that look like them. If you go there on a summer Sunday, there's a mariachi band in the park.

    We have a clash between culture and class here that the high cost of living contributes to. If you want to live in a neighborhood that is predominantly African-American, or Asian-American or Hispanic, you're not living in a neighborhood that speaks to the class distinction of educated people of color (the people most likely to move across the country to our fair city).

    I don't think we have that here. I think that people from Atlanta would miss being able to go into a high-end hair salon that specializes in black hair.

    I think they'd have the terrible choice of picking a school for their children that was either educationally excellent or had people of color in it.

    But I don't know for sure because I didn't ask, and neither did this article. They just made the weird claim that we're all moving here to avoid people of color.

  • Greg (unverified)
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    So Black people don't ride bikes, enjoy nature, like good beer and coffee, eat local, recycle, how come I didn't know that?

  • Michael B (unverified)
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    This is utter nonsense. Read a few pages of history before you make these ridiculous claims. The whiteness of Portland is an aftereffect of our history, period. Demographic trends do not at all indicate that Portland is getting whiter. We just were very white to begin with.

  • (Show?)

    I advocate for a variation of “diversity” for Portland. Portland should become an “international city.” Portland should become a city where people of various colors, cultures, languages, and backgrounds want to live and work. In terms of values, it just makes a more vibrant, richer, and more interesting city. One I’d enjoy living in.

    But the more serious public policy argument is that making Portland an “international city” is important for our economic future. With eighty percent of global economic growth over the next several decades forecast to come from emerging markets, and with one of them, China, forecast to have an economy twice the size of the US economy in 2050, our economic future hinges on how we change to sell more of our goods and services in those markets. I think we have a choice on whether to remain a pleasant regional economic center/city/state or whether to step it up to create the robust links of education and international trade that will make us a creative, competitive, cosmopolitan international city.

    What we need to do, IMHO, is invigorate foreign language programs in our public education system and send many, many more high school and college students to study abroad. There were a half-dozen proposals before the 2009 session to do parts of such an effort. None passed.

    Recall that the wife of NBA player Turkoglu turned Portland down because we did not have “international vibes.” See my blog post “Turkoglu: Portland lacks ‘international vibes’”

  • Gretchen (unverified)
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    The answer is: good paying jobs and employers who are willing to hire people of color for good paying jobs. We don't have that now.

  • Anne (unverified)
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    Whoa, wait. "Scandinavian policies"? What? I think I get that this phrase is trying to draw a sort of correlation between, say, Portland's bike culture and, umm, that of, maybe, The Netherlands? Maybe? Where people are blond? I'm just not sure.

    But let's suppose that phrase means "Urban policies that kind of make Portland seem a little European--pro-density, good public transit, cycle-friendly, farm markets...". Which of those values is specifically racial in nature? Do I need to have a certain ethnic background to value a bike lane or a short commute to work?

    I'm sorry--I'm entirely on board with you that Portland would benefit from greater ethnic diversity. But I really don't get the "Scandinavian" statement at ALL.

  • Wendy Ann Wright (unverified)
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    Thanks for this post Ms. Collymore. I saw the New Geography article a few days ago & am happy to see others thinking about how to use it as a call to action. I love Portland too, but struggle with all the hype we get for the things we are doing right without an equal examination of where we have gone wrong, both historically and in our current practices. In response to your question about how we can make Portland more appealing to people of color, I think there are many arenas where we could work to improve on this, but I am going to respond to the one I know the most about, which is recognition of history.

    I think if you were to poll most Portlanders about the local history of people of color, they wouldn't be able to tell you very much. As a community archaeologist I try to teach the history of Portland through material remains found in the ground, which along with oral histories, is often all that remains for the history of underrepresented groups. In Portland this includes, many Native American Tribes and peoples, African Americans who came to Portland in many unique ways, a range of Asian American communities, Native Hawaiians, Latino populations from many different countries, and a host of other immigrants of color who stories should be included in the dialogue of this place we now call Portland.

    I believe we need our local leaders to more actively acknowledge the history of Portland, the good, the bad, and the ugly and develop policies and programs to engage our citizens with the history of this place. These policies and programs should be used as a tool to encourage more cross-cultural dialogue through the topic of history & as a way to encourage people of color to believe they matter to Portland, both their history and their future.

    Thanks again for encouraging this conversation. I look forward to hearing other people's ideas.

    Sincerely, Wendy Ann Wright

  • (Show?)

    When we moved here from Durham, NC, the whiteness of Portland was something of a shock to the system. We still have 5th grade pictures of my son in a desegregating system; the classroom of 15 has 3 white faces in it. Fast forward to Portland and my son's whole school has probably 30 non-white faces.

    While I acknowledge history, it's just as naive to fail to recognize policies that make it difficult for non upper middle class folks to settle in Portland.

    So yes, Greg, riding bikes, drinking overpriced coffee and specialty beer, and eating local are overwhelmingly upper middle class yuppie--and white--preoccupations.

    For example, riding a bike to work is the province of someone who can afford to live within a few miles of their workplace and in the bike friendly parts of the city. Guess where that happens to be?

    And yes, Russ, Portland planning policies, for all their positive effects, have made housing in the city expensive for many middle class and lower middle class families.

    To raise one contentious issue, Karol: how about working to attract companies and industries that provide decent working class wages. How about some industrial development out along the open areas north of Troutdale? How about figuring out a way to get the Port back into a competitive position with LA and Seattle?

    Maybe positioning ourselves as the greenest city in America also makes us the whitest city in America? Just wondering...

  • John V. (unverified)
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    Aside from the fact that only albinos are truly white, I have to ask: What's wrong with being white?

    I used to live in the flatlands of Oakland, so here's some advice to all you Portlanders who want to be surrounded by folks with dark brown skin: move.

    It's not hard to find skin-tone diversity in America. It just depends on how much you really want it vs. how progressive you want to appear.

  • Unrepentant Liberal (unverified)
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    As someone who moved here from the Midwest 30 years over ago I can say that the demographics here are different from my birthplace. In the St. Louis area where I am from you are either Black or White with only the smallest smattering of other minorities in the mix. As a consequence everything there is viewed through the prism of Black/White.

    Most people in the Midwest live in either Black areas of cities or in White ones. It's not the ideal but that's the way it is.

    Oregon, for historical reasons that have been mentioned, has fewer Blacks than other areas of the country. However, other historical forces have blessed us with more Chinese, Japanese, Samoans, Vietnamese,Thai's, Russians, Koreans, Hawaiians, Filipinos, Mexicans, El Salvadorians, Pacific Islanders, Guatemalans, Peruvians, Argentineans, Native Americans and the list goes on and on of the 'not white.'

    To be Black is to be just one of many minorities that make up this state.

    Oregon is diverse. Just in a different way than the rest of the country. The more, the merrier.

  • (Show?)

    This is a problem for colleges, too. My alma mater, Lewis and Clark, was in constant churn to increase non-white attendance. (This is back in the day; maybe they've succeed by now.) The big problem was that the very whiteness of LC made it hard to lure non-whites; what, after all, did LC have to offer, other than the desperate wish it wasn't so white? Trying to diversify a white town isn't just a matter of wishing it were so.

    I guess that's one reason I recoil at Paul's comment here:

    So yes, Greg, riding bikes, drinking overpriced coffee and specialty beer, and eating local are overwhelmingly upper middle class yuppie--and white--preoccupations.

    Two things. First, based on my informal surveys of the local coffee shops and particularly, the local pubs, drinking coffee and good beer appears as much a lower-middle class phenomenon as it does upper-. This is sloppy thinking. Paul, as someone who follows beer very closely in this town, I'm going to have to ask you to substantiate this claim with numbers that refute my (apparently lyin') eyes. Pubs are not populated by richies. Very upscale restaurants, similarly, are not populated with good beer. Bud is the choice of the rich. This isn't too important in your larger point, but it doesn't help matters.

    The second point is a little more serious. The examples you cite in this part of the comment point to the private sector. So far as I know, pubs and coffeeshops aren't supported much by city planners. So if this is turning off potential non-white residents, what would you like to do about it?

    A lot of what makes a city attractive or unattractive to people not characteristic of that city (whether that's young people, non-white people, rich people, whatever) is beyond the direct control of government. So what do you do about that? Chiding it because it offends you does little to move the ball down the field.

    (Karol, nice post, btw.)

  • (Show?)

    The big problem I see with the article is the definition of "diversity". The author states that Portland is a white city, but then goes on to talk about the foreign born population and the Hispanic population as if they don't belong under the category of "diverse". I don't think "diversity" is all about skin color and ethnic heritage...and it certainly shouldn't be the only thing (or perhaps even main thing) we discuss when talking about cultural diversity. Certainly my cultural heritage (I'm Irish, French, Scot and Cherokee) isn't the same as my neighbor across the street who was an online bride from Eastern Europe. Or my daughter's friend whose parents are from India and invite us over for the monthly Hindu worship in their home. Or the Vietnamese family that lives about 3 blocks away and the dad makes amazing food...his dumplings are to die for. Or even the military family who live in the next block over that have essentially been gypsies until 3 years ago..who had us over for BBQ and beers and shared their adventures with us. This is is unincorporated Washington County--where the African-American population is virtually nonexistent as far as I know. All of these families come from places and cultures that are completely new to me.

    Our beliefs and priorities are often VASTLY different, just in the 4 block radius around my house.

    Setting that aside however, the piece does raise a series of interesting questions.

    Why is it so much more difficult to get progressive policies in areas with larger African-American populations? Why is skin color the arbiter of "diversity"? Should it be? Should Portland adjust its outreach to appeal more to African-Americans? How do progressives engage more African-Americans into progressive policy discussions? Why does the author assign "progressivism" to the # of African-Americans when it's not about policy, but about race? Should it be about policy or should it be about race? Can it be about both?

  • jamieee (unverified)
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    "So how do we as a progressive people make it appealing for people of color to want to stay here? "

    A good start would be to QUIT DRIVING BLACKS OUT OF NORTH EAST PORTLAND by intentionally increasing the cost of housing with Meto's tight UGB.

    Then quit subsidized rush to the high density which costs more than low density.

    Restrictive land use laws, like Portland’s and Metro’s drive up prices. This is well documented by the Federal Reserve, Harvard, HUD, U. of Washington and others see list at portland facts.com/housing/housingcost.htm

  • Jason (unverified)
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    "I don't think "diversity" is all about skin color and ethnic heritage...and it certainly shouldn't be the only thing (or perhaps even main thing) we discuss when talking about cultural diversity."

    Carla, well said!

  • (Show?)

    We are losing people of color from the Portland area?

    Let go to actual data as to trends, according to the census data, the percentage of the Portland Metropolitan Statistical Area (i.e. Portland and suburbs) that is white:

    1980: 92.3% 1990: 89.8% 2000: 81.6%

    Wow, a 10%+ increase in the percentage of non-white people as percentage of the areas population in just 20 years.

    When the premise of an article, and your off-base assumptions is simply not reflective of reality, perhaps you might want to re-think it.

  • (Show?)

    Jamieee- you make no sense. If our UGB was driving up home prices, it would make outer southeast and outer northeast (also in the UGB) pricey, too. We have 20 years of supply of buildable land within the UGB already.

    For those who want to know more about UGBs and housing prices, see two fact sheets I created ten years ago. One is about the NAHB "affordability" rankings, and the other is a myth-fact about UGBs and Housing Prices.

    Back to the topic - yes, housing affordability is a key goal, but it's not necessarily going to make us more racially diverse (though class diversity is valuable in its own right).

    As people may be grouping more - that is, they're more mobile than they have been in the past - they're moving more towards people like them. I think that's true politically (who wrote that book about this?), and I would guess it's true racially and ethnically too.

    So we need to get some first-movers who will create a draw for others, or to highlight the great people of color who already live here, to remind people who consider moving here that we're not just a bunch of wanna-be-Danes. Getting more people of color (like Karol, Lew, Eddie, etc.) into office, and in the news for other work, is critical.

  • (Show?)

    Posted by: jamieee | Oct 27, 2009 3:40:44 PM

    Yes, be sure to tell black homeowners in NE and N Portland that their home values have increased 20 gold since 1980 is a bad thing. I'm am sure they hate having the value of their homes be worth so much. I mean, how racist can you get to have black people's homes appreciate in value so much?

    /snark

  • Mizzz (unverified)
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    Fact is, the way of life in Portland will never really appeal to African Americans. It does appeal to other races, people from all over the world including Mexico, South America, Russia, China, Japan, India, Western Europe, Canada...etc -- No offense meant but - who cares what a small minority thinks when they are overwhelmingly small compared to the above list of places/people. Every part of the USA has different cultures who adapt and find it comfortable.

    The whole article by Karol seems really ignorant. Portland is diverse, in many many ways. The real issue we should be talking about: running lower class people of ALL races out of the city center (meaning the 10-15 miles surrounding downtown in all directions.

  • (Show?)
    Posted by: Mizzz | Oct 27, 2009 4:09:57 PM Fact is, the way of life in Portland will never really appeal to African Americans.

    I'll be sure to inform my upwardly mobile, micro-brew drinking black friends that they should hate their lifestyle and lives here in Portland.

  • Admiral Naismith (unverified)
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    Hmmmm....topics for discussion come to mind.

    Why eliminate the "top tier" cities like NY, LA, Chicago from consideration? Is there a reason other than stacking the deck to make the problem appear more severe?

    Denver, Austin and Raleigh-Durham are very ethnically diverse. They're also the southernmost of the "cool" cities. Until recently, New Orleans would be included. The whitest cities (Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle, maybe San Francisco) are all northern. All but Minneapolis are upper coastal. Is it a regional, as well as a racial, issue?

    Oregon has a racist history, but nowadays Portland and Oregon (at least, urban Oregon) is not on the top 100 list of places in America associated with KKK behavior and sundown laws. The "uncool" Southern and rust belt cities have more recent, and more horrific, racial histories. Why then, would Portland be considered to deter dusky-hued people from residing, while Atlanta or Austin or the NC research triangle would not?

    Does it have to do with college enrollment in cities with large liberal college presences? Do northwestern universities have enrollment discrimination that spills over as graduates reside and become influential in their cities? Again...why then not Austin and Durham, which have big name schools and diversity?

    Why should cities like Portland more actively pursue racial diversity? What are some benefits that would accrue to Portland if we had a more racially diverse population? What are we missing by being disproportionally white?

    <h2>Is there something that people of color, in particular, want in their communities, that white people don't want, or that Portland does not have? Some random brainstorming:</h2> <h2>---is it that people of color feel more comfortable in an environment where they are not such a small minority that they're singled out as "the other", racially profiled, etc.? Do they choose communities that already have a substantial presence of color, with the result that Portland's whiteness is a self-fulfilling prophecy? If so, what might Portland do to change that?</h2>
  • Mizzz (unverified)
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    Posted by: lestatdelc | Oct 27, 2009 4:15:17 PM

    I'll be sure to inform my upwardly mobile, micro-brew drinking black friends that they should hate their lifestyle and lives here in Portland.

    Cool. Pass the word along. It may be noteworthy to let them know that generalizations aren't meant to be taken on a micro level.

  • memphis (unverified)
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    Since when is Memphis not an ideal city to live in?

  • (Show?)

    Maybe Latte swilling, Microbrew pounding Tree Huggers make up a smaller proportion of the national African American community than they do of the national European American community.

    Occam's Razor and all that.........

    This discussion is reminiscent of the Fox News/Rush Limbaugh Fallacy wherein the assumption is made that since Rush and Fox dominate their respective markets, their nattering must represent the majority opinion in the US.

  • (Show?)

    Jeff,

    Bud the choice of the upper classes? Please. I have no better data than you do, but I strongly suspect if we compare the beer buying patterns in a Safeway or Plaid Pantry out at 102nd and Division and one at 43rd and Woodstock, we'll find a lot more microbrews move at the Woodstock safeway.

    You really think that working class folks are out there buying $7.99 six packs of Deschutes?

    As to the pubs and coffee shops, I guess I'll relax my claim to upper middle class and slackers. Head on down the Oaks Bottom on Bybee and compare to the crowd at the bar just around the corner and you can't tell me the crowds are very, very different.

    Coffee shops? Like Albina? Stumptown? You really think those are working class folks headed to their construction job or bagging groceries at Wal Mart?

    I said working class. Not lower middle. This is a lower middle town.

    And I did make suggestions. Don't turn away major corporate employers because they don't fit our image of what a green Amsterdam on the West Coast should look like. Don't create a hub and spoke transportation system that only serves downtown while ignoring outlying areas. Don't starve downtown of its remaining light industrial base by trying to convert everything along Grand Avenue into a condo or loft.

    And criminies, let's district the goll darned Council so East Portland and North Portland can actually elect someone that represents them, and we don't have a Council (with apologies to Amanda) filled with middle aged white anglo saxon men.

  • (Show?)

    This is a problem for colleges, too. My alma mater, Lewis and Clark, was in constant churn to increase non-white attendance. (This is back in the day; maybe they've succeed by now.)

    They haven't Jeff. At least not these past 4 years when I was there, though I hear that the current freshmen class has had some major increases in diversity.

  • nulwee (unverified)
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    Portland has one of the densest populations of Arabs (specifically, Lebanese Christians) of any urban area on th west coast. That all my favorite Arab cuisine (and Moroccan) restaurants-Petra House, Garbanzo's, Abu Karim and Casablanca--all went belly-up says more about the culture of the city than its sheer numbers.

    We also have significant collections of Somalian and Ethiopian immigrants. And we can name the more obvious minority communities here.

    The problem is that these communities are often "ghettoized". Most of the people I know--white or black--have never eaten at an Arab restaurant, despite the fact that they buy heavily-marked, lower-quality hummus or other Arab foods from supermarkets. Among the hipster/yuppie crowd, it becomes a "I (don't) feel like eating Lebanese" thing tonight--a cultural fetish.

    Yet the last time I was out on the city I couldn't help but notice all the black people I saw working in retail, even if I didn't see many black customers. Adidas, Saucebox, Starbucks. Our metro area doesn't have a problem with what I've heard called the "Microsoft" version of diversity--different swatches that are obvious to the eye.

    Being appreciative of strongly differing viewpoints and cultural differences is the real problem. And this is relative. E.g., despite the fact that I lived in an Orthodox neighborhood next to an Ethiopian neighborhood in Los Angeles (with one of the largest Thai communities in the US nearby) few of my friends were appreciative, adventurous or aware of the surroundings.

  • nulwee (unverified)
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    To complete the thought--if we want to be a more racially and ethnically diverse area, we might want to pause at a) raising the price of housing through the roof--North Portland--and b) might need to create space for new communities to form, rather than try to hope a wide variety of people are going to be content going to the various establishments on Alberta/Hawthorne/23rd/in the Pearl.

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    Jeff, I found one report that is a market analysis of beer consumption. It costs $4000. Care to spring for it? :-)

    WOW. I found a source for coffee. Here is the average income of a McDonalds specialty coffee drinker vs. Starbucks in 2007:

    "BIGresearch shows that McDonald's coffee drinkers are typically 47.7 years old, compared with 39.2 years old for Starbucks and that Starbucks drinkers are more likely to be single (29.1 percent vs. 19 percent). Customers frequenting Starbucks (27.2) are more likely to hold professional and managerial jobs than at McDonald’s (15.7 percent). They also earn more annually ($67,487 vs. $55,572)."

    Median family income during the same period was $50,233. This puts the average Starbucks drinker well above the median.

  • Michael B (unverified)
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    Thank you lestatdelc for proving that this entire discussion is based on false assumptions. Portland is already becoming more racially diverse at a very fast rate despite all our latte's and our microbrews and the Pearl District.

    However, even if it were true that Portland's efforts to promote livability were causing blacks to live elsewhere, am I the only one who thinks we should continue promoting livability? Every place does not have to be the same, people. Portland can be what it wants, and if people don't like it they can move to Dallas or LA or New York or Peoria. People are always complaining that Portland isn't sufficiently concerned with the needs of families, and I think we do need to make sure people can raise healthy kids here. But can't adults get some love too? Does every place in the world have to be Familyville USA? What I love about Portland is that we value adult things like art and wine and beer and fun, which most places completely ignore in their quest to cater to kids. People who aren't raising kids people too!

    While I feel for people who are displaced by urban renewal, where do people get the idea they are entitled to rent the same apartment/house forever? Do we really want to keep our city ugly and blighted just so the same people can continue living there forever? If people want to go to the effort to improve their houses or open new businesses we are supposed to discourage that? Come on. This is liberal guilt gone absolutely nutso.

    We have a great city here because of all our efforts to make it great. We have become much less white than we were decades ago, but we are still whiter than cities in the South. Some may feel this is a problem, certainly it isn't an ideal situation, but God knows what anyone could do about it. Acting as though our efforts to make our city a great place to live are causing us to also be whiter is stupid, and even if it were true it is no reason to stop trying to make our city a great place to live.

  • jamieee (unverified)
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    “We have 20 years of supply of buildable land within the UGB already.” At what price? A couple years ago buildable land was going for close to a MILLION an ace in outlying Tigard! That is $250,000 for a 1/4 acre lot. A NEW 2000 sqft home on such a lot costs less than that in Houson or Atlanta. The one I saw in Houston included schools, roads, parks, water, sewer, lakes and churches IN THAT COST.

    “For those who want to know more about UGBs and housing prices, see two fact sheets I created ten years ago.” Your claims are ten years old and weak anyway. Take a look at the stuff I linked to from Harvard, HUD and the Federal Reserve.

    “So we need to get some first-movers who will create a draw for others, or to highlight the great people of color who already live here, to remind people who consider moving here that we're not just a bunch of wanna-be-Danes.” Why not just get rid of policies that are forcing young inner city minorities to move out when they cannot afford a home near their family?

    “ Getting more people of color (like Karol, Lew, Eddie, etc.) into office, and in the news for other work, is critical.” They don’t have a clue unless they look at actual data and few politicians bother to do that.

  • jamieee (unverified)
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    “Let go to actual data as to trends, according to the census data, the percentage of the Portland Metropolitan Statistical Area (i.e. Portland and suburbs) that is white:”

    The issue is NOT the whole region - the issue is driving minorities out of inner neighborhoods.

    It is well known that Portland style land use drives out minorities in city after city. These policies are making the inner cities more white as the minorities move outward. They are racist policies.

  • George Anonymuncule Seldes (unverified)
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    Wow, a post by a writer wishing that there were more people who look like her around. Apparently that's ok for her.

  • Tom S (unverified)
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    I and a lot of the other people who moved here in our 20s say we moved here for a myriad of reasons. The environment, outdoor rec, gay friendly, veg friendly, active and vibrant urban neighborhoods, a good job, etc. But maybe we are all just subconsciously racist. And that's the only reason we moved here. Because some blog commenters have thrown the first rule of statistics (correlation is not causation) out the window, and who are we to question them?

    How offensive an assumption is that?

    If the white city/livable enviro progressive city phenomena is related in any way other than coincidence, it's probably because a) lots of cities with more black people had a ton of white flight/rich flight out of their city, causing a lot of disinvestment, b) these cities lost their civic spirit (as people fragmented and flew into a myriad of faraway suburban jurisdictions) and their sense of urban dynamism as so many neighborhoods were physically and economically gutted out, causing c) the cities that could become all revived and dynamic as easily as pdx were the ones that didn't have all that wealth flight caused by the white flight.

  • Tom S (unverified)
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    Also, if Pdx and other progressive hot spots in the same list are more racist, why are they also less residentially segregated than the southern and rust belt cities? They are, and the people making the article's assumptions have ignored this fact.

  • PhedUp (unverified)
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    Is it just color we want? I mean, on its face, color is pretty meaningless. We could fly in thousands of incarcerated folks from California prisons...all people of color. Would that make Portland a better place just because they aren't white? It seems there should be some more questions we are asking before we start passing out labels. We should focus on attracting the right kind of people - of all colors to Portland - and we should start by making sure there are jobs for them to come to, instead of kowtowing to the severely un and underemployed creative class by having bike boxes, mixed recycling and drum circles for them to enjoy while collecting unemployment.

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    Posted by: Mizzz | Oct 27, 2009 4:40:48 PM Cool. Pass the word along. It may be noteworthy to let them know that generalizations aren't meant to be taken on a micro level.

    No, what is noteworthy is that your generalization is racial stereotyping crap from the get-go.

  • Michael B (unverified)
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    jamieee, if what you say is true, that promoting urban density forces minorities out of the central city... too bad. Density is worth it. We should not sacrifice our quality of life so they can live in the same neighborhood forever. But I doubt you are right anyway. Plus, urban growth boundaries and other planning measures can be coupled with affordable housing. So rather than railing against good planning policy, why don't you just advocate for affordable housing?

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    Posted by: jamieee | Oct 27, 2009 5:59:31 PM The issue is NOT the whole region - the issue is driving minorities out of inner neighborhoods. It is well known that Portland style land use drives out minorities in city after city. These policies are making the inner cities more white as the minorities move outward. They are racist policies.

    The data doesn't back that up. From the same census data on white population as a percentage:

    Overall MSA 1980 92.3 1990 89.8 2000 81.6

    Central city of Portland MSA 1980 85.3 1990 83.1 2000 75.5

    Suburbs 1980 95.0 1990 92.6 2000 84.1

    Your assertion that minorities are pushed out of the city is simply not borne out by the data. We have parallel increases in both in the city itself as well as in the suburbs of minority growth in population.

    That you claim land-use policy is "racist" is not only not supported by the data, but patently absurd and pathetic, unsubstantiated guilty white "liberal" trope.

    There are real issues of racism not just here in Portland and in Oregon as a whole, but the Urban Growth Boundary isn't one of them. But I am sure all the black homeowners in NE and N Portland really appreciate you screaming racism that their home values have had a 20 fold increase in value due to the UGB. I am sure they will thank you for fighting for the "right" that their home should go back to being relatively worthless like much of North and NE Portland was in the early to mid-80s. I am sure they will be SO happy that you want to make their homes that are currently worth $250k+ be $10k again. I am sure the rural communities will also appreciate you fighting for unrestricted urban sprawl wiping out farm-land and making everyones commute be hours long, not to mention and overbuilding home inventories so we can enjoy the luxury of being like many parts of CA where over 1 in 4 homes are in foreclosure and there is no bottom to the devaluation because of overbuilding.

    BTW, I wonder how much tax base those worthless homes are when it comes to funding schools?

    Yeah, but you are fighting the good liberal fight for us. With "liberals" like that, please go be a conservative, since we have more of your sort of help for minorities and for the overall health of the metro area and of the state than we can handle.

  • blue collar libertarian (unverified)
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    Obviously some people need to get out more. Contrary to published reports Portland does not have a great, wonderful or even good transit system. Try putting yourself in the shoes of an African-American or anyone for that fact living around Martin Luther King jr Blvd in NE Portland. You know that there are a number of places in the Rivergate Industrial Park some 6 miles away where you wish to apply for a job. You plan on boarding the bus by the Safeway in the 5900 blk of MLK and go to the 6800 blk of N Marine Drive. If you should get a job your time frame will be limited to working the day shift Monday thru Friday. Sorry no weekend service and nothing late at night. So no swing shift and no graveyard shift. And don’t plan on leave for work after 7:30 in the a.m. or having to come in late because you had to take your child to school or the doctors. If you leave at 6:30 a.m. you will have to board 3 buses and it will take at least an hour or more. So plan accordingly.

    In other words you are pretty much screwed by a system that likes to brag about itself and a city that likes to brag about its diversity. Course the politicians don’t give a damn.

    By the way there are some great places to work in the Rivergate Industrial park. I suggest you drive out there sometime, take a look around and ask yourself if the job opportunities for those in N Portland would improve if there was a better transit program.

    Karol may I suggest that you talk to your boss about this but double check my work first.

    I may be wrong but I’ll let y’all tell me.

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    Thank you lestatdelc for proving that this entire discussion is based on false assumptions. Portland is already becoming more racially diverse at a very fast rate despite all our latte's and our microbrews and the Pearl District.

    I don't know if this is true or not true, but I know that that data presented above is not germane to the question.

    The whole country is becoming more diverse. Whether or not Portland is becoming MORE diverse at a VERY FAST rate implies some comparison.

  • Michael B (unverified)
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    paul g.

    You may have a point, and I have to commend your attempt to bring logic into this debate. However, the data is germane. The post here claims Portland's policies are causing Portland to become whiter. The data prove Portland is not becoming whiter. It is an open question whether Portland's whiteness is waning slower, faster, or at the same rate as other cities. I suspect the rates are the same, and no one has presented evidence to suggest otherwise.

  • RyanLeo (unverified)
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    Ummmm...I have my 20 foot pole out.

    First, what does Karol mean by "people of color"?

    From my first 2 readings of this post, I surmise that she is equivocating African Americans = people of color.

    Myself, I have a Father who is 50% Filipino (making me 25% Filipino) and a Mother who is a lily White Okie.

    I find it odd reading this post and the ensuing comments that people bring up Southern cities with historically large populations of African Americans as "diverse" cities.

    Where do Latinos and Asians fit in as part of the "people of color" and overall diversity of a city? Do you ignore the 5 or so percent Asian population? Do you only count diversity as the African American population in proportion to the European American population?

    Please, explain yourself because the article only references "African Americans" and "Foreign born population" as diversity.

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    Echo what Carla and Unrepentant Liberal said.

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    despite all our latte's and our microbrews and the Pearl District.

    The Pearl district includes a lot of affordable housing. You don't necessarily see it, but that's kind of the point. It's an area with plenty of shortcomings, but failure to provide affordable and workforce housing just isn't one of them. It's a model of how we can build new neighborhoods while creating more places for working Oregonians to live.

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    Weird, trying to post similar data about other cities, showing Portland slightly (though not vastly) ahead of the average, in response to paul g.'s claim the data is not germane because it doesn't compare to other large MSAs and my post won't go through.

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    Posted by: paul g. | Oct 27, 2009 7:29:10 PM I don't know if this is true or not true, but I know that that data presented above is not germane to the question. The whole country is becoming more diverse. Whether or not Portland is becoming MORE diverse at a VERY FAST rate implies some comparison.

    Again from the census data over the past 20 years urban core city, vs. suburbs (the overall numbers is roughly an average of the two within each MSA):

    Portland, OR (29th in size): just over 10% increase (10.3) in minority population, just under 10% (9.8) increase in the suburbs Louisville, KY (30th, aka the next closest in size to Portland): just under 9% increase (8.8) in minority population, less than 5% (4.5) increase in the suburbs Oklahoma City, OK (31st in size): exactly 14% increase in minority population, exactly 9% increase in the suburbs

    Other random cities elsewhere...

    Minneapolis, MN: under 10% increase (9.9) in minority population, less than 7% (6.3) increase in the suburbs Mobile, AL: under 5% increase (4.5) in minority population, an actual decrease of more than 2% (2.1) decrease in the suburbs (white flight) Pittsburgh, PA: just over 7% increase (7.4) in minority population, less than 3% (2.5) increase in the suburbs Muncie, IN: under 3% increase (2.8) in minority population, exactly 2 increase in the suburbs Denver, CO: just over 10% increase (10.3) in minority population, less than 9% (8.3) increase in the suburbs Austin, TX: just under 10% increase (9.8) in minority population, less than 6% (5.3) increase in the suburbs

    The point is, that the underlying assumption that Karol bases this article on is simply not true. Portland is not losing minorities at all, but in fact increasing in its diversity. And yes, most large cities are also increasing in diversity, but Portland is a little above the curve, not not vastly so, but there it is. Again, the central premise of this article is simply not accurate.

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    Weird internet voodoo there.

  • verasoie (unverified)
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    Several thoughts:

    1) If it's easy to have Scandinavian policies if you have Scandinavian demographics, then why is Appalachia so backwards and non-Progressive in their policies?

    2) Is PDX truly that "white" or is there not simply a Northwest racial makeup here that is different from that elsewhere, meaning the historical racial minority groups in the Northwest (and West) have been more Asian, Hispanic, and Native American than African-American? Perhaps it's because I live in NE PDX (Concordia), but I don't see my neighborhood as particularly "white."

    3)I really don't believe that anyone considering moving to a suburb anywhere would instead decide to move to urban Portland, especially if they're "fleeing African-Americans." Those are not the people who embrace Portland's urban lifestyle.

    4) How much of these statistics actually looks at the demographics of urban PDX, versus its lily white 'burbs? From what I've read, virtually all of the population growth in PDX is from minorities (especially Hispanics), whereas it's the suburbs that are seeing growth from white folks.

  • jamieee (unverified)
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    "Plus, urban growth boundaries and other planning measures can be coupled with affordable housing."

    As far as i can tell, they are mutually exclusive.

    Is there any affordable housing program that actually works, to provide sufficient quantities of truly affordable houses (not little rat cages), instead of merely sounding good?

  • Chuck (unverified)
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    Yes, Portland does have a smaller percentage of black people and also of other races that are not white. IMHO I don't see that as a particularly good or bad thing. i think it might be more important to see how those different ethnicities and cultures interact. Speaking from my own experience moving here from NYC and growing up in Tampa, FL as well as growing up in Houston, TX, one of the big issues is integration. I moved here to explore and experience the beautiful greenery and scenery I'd seen in pictures. My friend who I came out here for had convinced me that Portland was one of the nicest cities. I am a very gregarious person and have made many friends in those places I mentioned and also just traveling through the states in general. She was sure people would be talking to me on the streets and in the cafes and bars constantly as she said this was her experience.

    The first day I went out on the town.I was surprised, shocked, and saddened many times when going into a bar or cafe and trying to start a conversation only to be ignored or treated rudely and coldly. That first day I walked SE Belmont, Hawthorne, Stark, and Burnside. I went downtown to see if it was different but to no avail. Went to NW and still no warmth from the people and also no black people in any of those establishments. I thought to myself, "Where are all the ethnic people? Where are the Latinos, Indians, Asians, Blacks?" All I saw in those places was white with a smattering of differences here and there.

    So finally I ventured over to NE. I was walking that day because I really wanted to get a feel for the city. Once I got to NE then I thought, "Oh now I see where the black people are." I decided to query where the place with bars and cafes are. What a strange feeling I got when most of the black people I talked to seemed really slowed down and spaced out. All day the white people had been rude and aloof and now the black people just seemed spaced. Anyway, I was then directed to Alberta Street. I got there and did see black people walking on the sidewalks and generally around. It was strange though, because when I entered the establishments on Alberta, there was no integration. To this day, four years later whenever I go into Random Order, Fuel Cafe, By and By, Concordia Coffee, or any of the restaurants along Alberta there are never any black people in there besides myself. Only the bar called the Nest had an integrated crowd.

    Please make no mistake I grew up in multicultural settings. I'm an artist. I love people. I love to get to know them and be friends hopefully forever. Growing up my friends were of literally every color and Nationality. Houston is actually diverse and integrated. As, of course, is NYC. I don't mind being surrounded by mostly white people. As long as those people are nice. I think that because of Portland and OR history there are still deep seated hatreds and resentment from all sides. The seperatist vibes have lingered. People are not really with each other here. I've been called the N-word unprovoked and, albeit, under the persons breath, in Portland more than anywhere I've ever been in the South. I think people pick up on these types of vibes and many are not willing to try and stay to change it so they leave or they stay in their respective parts of town.

    If people treated each other with more love and respect the numbers wouldn't be as much of an issue.

  • verasoie (unverified)
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    I'm glad to read that you decided to stay, Chuck, and "be the change that you were looking for."

    As a resident of the Alberta neighborhood, where can I see your art?

  • Mike (unverified)
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    I work in a major city that's praised for its "diversity" and see the racial tension, crime, and poverty on a daily basis. The blacks don't get along with the Hispanics. The Hispanics don't get along with the whites. The Asians don't seem to get along with anyone. Take it from someone who knows: diversity is overrated.

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    Isn't the "It's easy to have Scandinavian policies if you have Scandinavian demographics" line prejudiced in its own way? Like there's something peculiar or different about Northern Europeans that would define "Scandinavian policies"?

  • JerryB (unverified)
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    "Isn't the "It's easy to have Scandinavian policies if you have Scandinavian demographics" line prejudiced in its own way?"

    Absolutely. Saying that we've got too many whites in this city is no better than saying we've got too many blacks. You don't have to be white to be racist.

    I've learned something new today about Karol Collymore. hopefully she's learned something new about herself.

  • RyanLeo (unverified)
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    The article that was the reason for the post concerns me. It concerns me on a number of levels:

    1. In the graphs it uses, it sets up this false paradigm as African Americans and Foreign Born Populations as "People of Color"

    2. It ignores the history of the Pacific NW.

    The first, I have already tackled along with many others before and after me.

    Second, African Americans unlike Georgia, South Carolina and the rest of the Southern States do not have a very long history of living in the Pacific NW. I know that World War 2 brought many African American servicemen and their families to what was known as Vanport. The Vanport Flood of May 30, 1948 displaced many of the African American servicemen and their families into NE Portland. At the most, you have 2 maybe 3 or 4 generations of African Americans living in the Pacific NW compared to those in the South.

    In comparison to the Asians, African Americans really are newcomers. Where the Asians in the late 1800s to assist in building the transcontinental railroad system among other endeavors, the great influx of African Americans to the Pacific NW happened after the influx of African Americans to the Old Northwest (Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, etc.)

    Portland may be "White" in a false paradigm that only recognizes African Americans and Foreign Born Populations as "people of color," but the rich history of Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Latinos more than fills out this diverse tapestry that I came to love during my time in Portland, OR.

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    I remain very puzzled by the various stats folks are using here. Back in January Betsy Hammond had a very straightforward piece in the Oregonian called In a changing world, Portland remains overwhelmingly white. The bottom line: "Among the nation's 40 largest metro areas, only four -- none of them in the West -- are whiter than Portland."

    The charts she published included core, metro and suburban areas, and certainly square with my own experiences living here, in contrast to the half dozen or so other metro areas I've lived.

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    jaimee at least deserves credit for perseverance. demonstrable & admitted ignorance do not deter from spouting off. knows nothing of Lew, Karol or Eddie but is sure none of them bother to reports, facts, etc. has no real knowledge of UGB but still is sure it is a menace to American Way of Life. very impressive display of bravado.

  • Satchel (unverified)
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    Pretty sure I know something that's NOT going to help: a racist morning DJ on KUFO:

    http://oregonmediacentral.com/2009/10/kufos-new-crew-kidd-chris-ditch-ricker-marconi-and-a-pair-of-balls

  • Clarence (unverified)
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    What would be a hoot is if a bunch of black conservatives moved into PTown. Of course, then it would be OK to run them out...

  • Michael B (unverified)
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    The line about Scandinavian policies being easy to implement when you have Scandinavian demographics is not racist. It is being considered here completely out of context. The book was making several points in the discussion the quote is lifted from:

    1. When a society is homogeneous, politicians cannot divide citizens across racial lines, religions lines, etc. This allows society to focus on solving real problems for the people, and allows pragmatic public policies to be implemented.

    2. Scandinavian cultural values include investing in community, and American cities that saw significant Scandinavian immigration long ago seem to have adopted community-spirited policies at a greater rate than other cities.

    A correct application of the book's thesis to Portland would be to say that Portland's homogeneity (whiteness) and its Scandinavian heritage have both played a role in Portland's ability to implement community-spirited policies. Portland is not getting whiter because of our policies. Our good policy has been made possible partly because of our whiteness.

  • Jenn (unverified)
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    Interesting conversation. When I moved back to Portland from DC in 1994 I had forgotten about how lacking in diversity it was. Now that I live in Oakland, I love the diversity -- 1/3 white, 1/3 African American, 1/3 Asian & Hispanic. But there is a lot of political tension, and maneuvering that keeps things interesting. When people say they are dreaming about leaving Oakland or Berkeley and moving to the utopia of Portland, I tell them it's not that diverse and they are shocked. People have no idea. Plus you can't really hail a cab in Portland, which is a pain.

    Just a couple interesting points on diversity not necessarily meaning a significant African American population:

    • San Francisco has about the same percentage of African Americans as Portland, but it's more than 30% Asian, and those Asians are mostly Chinese. And there are twice as many Hispanics as African Americans. I think SF is always considered a very diverse city.
    • A couple years ago I was talking with an African American woman who was a commissioner for the Port of Oakland. She was relaying stories about going to Viet Nam and how lacking in diversity it was. That was news to me because I had always been told and thought that Viet Nam had one of the most diverse populations in Asia -- with tons of different Asian ethnicities: Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, Filipino, etc. But to her, because she didn't see herself reflected there, it wasn't diverse. That was her perception, and a valid one, but just one way of looking at things.

    Final thought -- diversity and integration are not the same. . .

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    JerryB, that line about Scandinavians wasn't Karol's, she just quoted it -- albeit approvingly. Do the writer (and Karol) believe that the Swedes, Norwegians, and Danes have a lock on progressive policies? It seems like I've heard something along those lines before, from various critics of progressive policies describing them as "not American" or "too European". "The progressives are the real racists!" Liberalism = fascism. And on and on. Maybe it was a bon mote, but given that the original article is at essence claiming that urban growth boundaries and streetcars hurt minority populations, it seems a mite difficult to swallow given that streetcars are hardly confined to Scandinavia.

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    Michael B: The line about Scandinavian policies being easy to implement when you have Scandinavian demographics is not racist. ... Scandinavian cultural values include investing in community

    Yes, other cultures could give a crap about investing in community.

    Michael B: Our good policy has been made possible partly because of our whiteness.

    Well, if the line about Scandinavian policies isn't racist I don't know what is.

  • Michael B (unverified)
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    darrelplant

    The book was not suggesting non-Scandinavian cultures do not care about community spirit. Sheesh.

    It appears to me that you are screaming racism to silence the views of people who are engaging in honest exploration of important issues, without bothering to even try to understand the views in question.

    Racism is serious and your ignorant accusations are extremely counterproductive to efforts to stop actual racism.

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    "It's easy to have Scandinavian policies if you have Scandinavian demographics"

    Well, as one of those Scandininavians -- and one whose mom was Portland's "Scandinavian of the Year" just a couple of years ago, let me weigh in a bit.

    It's true that Oregon had a large influx of Scandinavian immigration - mostly around the turn of the century. There's a reason why PSU is the Vikings. Head to Astoria sometime, and if you're lucky, you'll hear Finnish and Norwegian spoken on the street by moms to their kids.

    I had a professor in college who taught state politics. He often noted that Oregon and Washington shared many political characteristics with Minnesota and Wisconsin. He attributed our progressive, good-government style with a Scandinavian and Lutheran heritage. (Ever notice that Portland and Minneapolis are the two largest NPR audiences? Start making comparisons, and you'll find a lot of those odd data points.)

    But there's nothing wrong with that. Progressive policies and (mostly) corruption-free government are a good thing.

    But none of that is to suggest that we shouldn't seek to become more diverse. Of course we should. Or, more precisely, to create the sort of community where people of color would choose to come and stay here. I emphasize that because we can't actually choose to be more diverse; that's not a public policy. We can only do what we can to make ourselves more attractive to people of color.

    And, frankly, I think the very policies that seem to be credited here to our Scandinavian heritage (rightly or wrongly) are ones that are attractive to people of color.

    But we have a long way to go. There are very specific things we can and should be doing (and stop doing.) Oregon does have a history of racism. I encourage all of you to read Lew Frederick's recent report on perceptions of the PDC among communities of color. It is both unsurprising and shocking all at the same time.

    As one commenter noted above, much of our transit system is designed to move suburban middle-class folks into the central city for high-income jobs (the "spoke and wheel" design) - rather than transport working people to industrial employment zones.

    Karol is right: We have much work to do. But let's be a bit more precise about exactly what needs fixing - and what doesn't.

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    Paul, my criticism of your comment did not key on the characterization of working class jobs. I was taken aback by this rather unreflective comment:

    So yes, Greg, riding bikes, drinking overpriced coffee and specialty beer, and eating local are overwhelmingly upper middle class yuppie--and white--preoccupations.

    You conflate a variety of things here. Coffee and specialty beer (I could go down the road of the characterization of them as "overpriced," too, which is similarly either uninformed or unreflective) are not "overwhelmingly upper middle class yuppie preoccupations." This is a silly generalization, and one that a stat on median incomes of Starbucks drinkers cannot dispel. Walk into a pub anywhere in the city. Look at people drinking specialty beer. Very few are upper-middle class.

    My point is that it's easy to fall into stereotyping based on race and class. The behavior your excoriated in this comment are indeed mainly those of Portland whites. But of course, so is almost every other behavior in Portland. Your point, I think, is that the city has little to offer non-whites. This is much the same as my own comment. But you go beyond the point when you default to stereotypes and start mixing and matching variables. When we're talking about race--and especially when two white guys from Portland are talking about race--I think it's worth being cautious about our characterizations.

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    Michael

    I guess i think "becoming whiter" is implicitly relative as well. The claim about absolute change may have been made somewhere in the thread, but I'm pretty sure Karol's claim, and the coverage about the whiteness of Portland, was always on a relative scale. We are relatively the whitest large city in our comparison group, whiter than Salt Lake City (always the shocker). But all cities have become more diverse.

    If the population as a whole is becoming significantly more diverse (as it is), and has especially experienced a substantial increase in Hispanic immigration over the past 20 years (it has), then showing that Portland has become less white since 1990 really doesn't tell us anything about whether Portland's policies, culture, politics, or economy encourage or discourage diversity.

    The appropriate standard is whether Portland became more or less Hispanic compared to some baseline. I suggest a good baseline would be similarly situated urban areas--Seattle, San Francisco, Salt Lake, Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, Austin, San Jose--these are all what I view as our competitors for the hip,urban, creative class population.

  • Charlie Burr (unverified)
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    Not trying to pile on to what Alworth's already written, but I'd like add that the local food portion of Paul's comment is also fairly unreflective:

    So yes, Greg, riding bikes, drinking overpriced coffee and specialty beer, and eating local are overwhelmingly upper middle class yuppie--and white--preoccupations.

    Here's a brief look at the work local non-profit Growing Gardens did last year working with low-income Portlanders to make sure they have the resources they need for successful urban gardening:

    Enrolled 62 new households. Continued support for 88 households in their 2nd & 3rd year of the program. Distributed over 3500 seed packets Distributed over 2000 plant starts at the annual Plant Distribution Day. Worked with 600 community volunteers who put in 2500 hours of service in the Home Garden Program. Built 44 composting systems for Home Gardeners. Continued 2 "Neighborhood Networks" of Home Gardeners to provide a resource to increase peer support and mentorship amongst neighbors. Connected 35 Volunteer Mentors to beginning gardeners.

    My wife works there, and their organization's core mission is to ensure just the opposite of what Paul is saying: growing healthy local food need not be some elitist delicacy or limited to an upper middle class yuppie pursuit.

  • gl (unverified)
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    ftw

    http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/2008/05/28/101-being-offended/

    http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/2008/01/21/12-non-profit-organizations/

    http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/2008/01/24/23-microbreweries/

    http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/2008/02/10/62-knowing-whats-best-for-poor-people/

  • Dil Mirch (unverified)
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    Is this more evidence that you're not "the identity politics editor"?

    You've not demonstrated any evidence that persons of color are avoiding Portland. Are SF and Seattle above the national average? Maybe our share went to those cities.

    On the other hand there definitely are whites that settle here, because of a lack of blacks. BTW, why does that single Spanish lone word have to be translated or its an insult? Anyway, every Texan that relocates volunteers to me they're pleased at the racial make-up. For good or ill, we're getting positive cash flow from it.

    And then there's you. The tone in your piece is that this was news to you. So, how is it that someone that would correct friends over dinner that their language isn't PC enough not notice what must be obvious barriers to persons of color relocating here? What do you find about Portland that puts you off? Recently, running or the HD, you kept saying how proud of Portland you are.

    I don't mind identity politics. I wish you didn't go looking for fights to pick, though. How about using your colordar to explain why a black man, with the power of the Presidency, is still imprisoning civilians in Gitmo, still bombing civilians around the world, and putting people in chains, without due process of law, and flying them to third countries where they will be tortured or killed?

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    The Pearl district includes a lot of affordable housing. You don't necessarily see it, but that's kind of the point.

    Maybe that is part of the problem. Why SHOULD it be "kind of the point" not to see affordable housing, as if there is something unseemly or wrong about that? We are still back to the trying to attract the "right kind of people" as if lower income and working class folks are the WRONG kind of people. If there is affordable (and maybe we should define affordable here) housing in the Pearl, why not make a big deal about that as an opportunity to diversify (in many ways) the area, and not act as if having more working class folks move in would be a bad thing?

    And to address this "people in N/NE should be happy their homes have increased in value" subject. At face value, of course they should-and I seriously doubt that you will find anyone who is unhappy about their homes being worth something-but the COST of that increase in value, along with the fact that it took White folks moving to the area to get most of that much applauded development to even happen (meaning developers and banks weren't preferring to do it before), is driving the working class out of the area. These areas weren't "blighted" and run-down because residents preferred it that way.

    Finally, I've read a lot of judgemental and self-important things written on BlueO, but for anyone to feel they get to (i)decide(/i) that someone else shouldn't want to, or have the right to, live in one place for the length of their lives , is one of the most conceited, egotistical things I have ever heard anyone say.

  • Jiang Lee (unverified)
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    Charlie, the charge of elitism comes from the fact that there are big cases where it happens. Reed eliminated over 100 garden plots, used for over 80 years, to build on campus housing so that students didn't have to live across the street. There was no successful resistance to the move, because wealthy whites living in the neighborhood took over the campaign, told the poor that were using it to live to bugger off, and Reed decided that the elites were the only reason the garden existed.

    I was growing 20% of my food on the balcony of my apartment. They decided to remodel and, over 6 months simply made arbitrary decisions when they needed to work there and dumped the plants. The wealthy either perceive it as a hobby or a way to promte health.

    I am glad to hear about the org your wife works for and will check it out. I think a lot of co-op arrangements between folks with land and those with gardening experience is needed. Portland Parks definitely treat it as a hobby. I was present at a "get out the word", and heard their head honch, Leslie Pohl, turn down mega IT support for their website because she was "pretty set in her routine". It's a part of Parks. Dog parks get more attention with the City than people trying to get by by growing their own. I have put these concerns to the last three responsible for Parks. All could care less about this. Sam was the worst. The only one that wouldn't even answer correspondence on the subject.

    Am*dam has a de facto housing policy, that if a building isn't being used you can squat in it. Then, you can't be evicted. Could we show that there is one iota of progressiveness in this country by having an anemic, watered down version for gardens? Why not say that any vacant lot can be used for gardening? Let the owner start building whenever and nuke your stuff.

    I took the tour through the old county poor farm on its anniversary. I remember going through a similar place in the 1970s. Back then, I thought "those poor people". Last time I thought, "I wish I had it this good".

    This, imho, is far more important than a happy resident that happens to be a person of color that suddenly discovers a number that tells her that blacks must not be happy here.

    I have been commenting on garden angles on BO for 4 years and have never received a civil reply. Most people simply don't care about this, and that most includes "progressive" Dems.

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    And again, I think lattes, lambics, and local food may well be emblematic of white culture (though I think local food is arguable--it's such a new phenomenon, I don't know that it's indicative of any racial or cultural group). My comment was mainly debunking these as solely rich pursuits.

  • JerryB (unverified)
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    Michael B: "It appears to me that you are screaming racism to silence the views of people who are engaging in honest exploration of important issues, without bothering to even try to understand the views in question."

    No, I'm pointing out the racism that was literally in the title of the post.

    Should we be tolerant enough to tolerate intolerance?

  • Michael B (unverified)
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    oregonian37

    You misread my comment. I do not wish to decide where anyone lives. My point is that improving a neighborhood is worth it, even if it means some residents get displaced. People do not have the right to have their neighborhood remain the same forever, especially if their neighbors wish for change.

    As for your comment about attracting the right or wrong kind of people, I'd be interested to know what you think would be the benefits if we were to intentionally try to attract more poor people to Portland? Is it just that it would make you feel less guilty? I would say it is desirable to have greater racial diversity, but the idea that it is desirable to have more people of meager economic means, who are unable to invest in their community? Why?

  • zull (unverified)
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    Some of it is inevitable. There aren't very many strong African American roots here. There aren't a whole lot of families that have been here for multiple generations. People like living near their family and friends they grew up with...they don't want to move to a town where they don't know anyone just because it's "hip".

    You can say "working class jobs" and "low property costs" all you want, since that's how it was for Detroit, but ultimately people want to live near their families more than they don't. So they stay in cities that aren't all that nice because they can find jobs there and be near family. You can make your city the nicest one around, you can spend lots of money on "diversity festivals" and try to gloss things over or whatever, but ultimately, people want to live where they know people, and most people look at Portland and say "I don't know a lot of people there, and besides, it rains all the time". It's a self-fulfilling curse, kind of. If people don't know a lot of people somewhere, they probably won't move there. I know I've turned down a lot of jobs in a lot of towns over the years because I just didn't know any people there. I would have left Portland a couple of times if I could have had a job much closer to family and friends who live out of state.

  • Connor Allen (unverified)
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    Carla was the only person who has mentioned Washington County, the most diverse county in Oregon, and one of the two big suburban counties. Last summer I stayed in Tigard and took the #12 bus into Portland and back every day for a month. Going from PDX into Tigard, mostly white ridership, with some Latinos. But leaving from Tigard into Portland every morning, the bus was full of people from East, Southeast, South, and Southwest Asia, African Americans and recent African immigrants, and Latinos.

    The diversity of Washington County is one of the few things which tempt me to alter my plans to move back to Clackamas County, which, unfortunately, is not as diverse.

  • DanOregon (unverified)
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    While the history of Oregon's past as a state that was hostile to non-whites can't be understated, I also think the region's lack of large employers, military installations or transportation hubs make it less likely to see an influx of populations from outside the general area. Multiply this by generations and it isn't surprising about the lack of diversity.

  • Jessie (unverified)
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    As a white woman, I don't have any meaningful insight about what would make large groups of African Americans (or, really, any person who isn't me) move or not move, stay or not stay anywhere. But the more I think about the article as it is presented here, the more troubled I am.

    "As the college educated flock to these progressive El Dorados"--so, "college educated" and black are exclusive categories in the mind of the author? (By which I mean, of course, the author of the original article, not the author of this post about the article.)

    "Why move to the suburbs of your stodgy Midwest city to escape African Americans and get criticized for it when you can move to Portland and actually be praised as progressive, urban and hip?"--has anyone actually ever done this? Moved to Portland to be praised for being hip, I mean? I moved here to be closer to my niece and sister, and for a variety of other factors, but praise was not one of them. If I was supposed to have been praised for my move at some point, someone forgot.

    And this is the weirdest: "It's easy to have Scandinavian policies if you have Scandinavian demographics"--please do not make me follow this line of illogic out to its natural conclusion. I just wonder what the author thinks about the kind of policies it's easy for, say, Atlanta to have, that's all. Ugh.

    I'm with Karol, though: It's nice to live in a thriving city with a diverse population. How you get it is beyond me, although I'll posit that people in general like to live somewhere where they feel welcome and can make a living. Right now, Portland doesn't have enough jobs for its current residents. The high unemployment rate should scare people away, no matter what race they are or how much they enjoy microbrews.

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    Racism is serious and your ignorant accusations are extremely counterproductive to efforts to stop actual racism.

    I remember how serious it was from several years of living in that liberal bastion, Eugene, with a woman who grew up in Compton. So spare me your dudgeon.

    Your assertion that "Our good policy has been made possible partly because of our whiteness" is a load of codswallop. In the '20s there were so few blacks in the state that the Klan had to devote their energies to the Catholics and other groups. My wife's family had a cross burned on their front yard back in the day. Anti-Popery ran so heavy and thick in Oregon that it generated a case that went to the Supreme Court, when -- in what seems almost mind-bogglingly bass-ackward from today -- the Klan-sponsored Oregon Compulsory School Act was passed by voters in 1922. The Act required children to go to public schools, essentially in attempt to shut down Catholic private schools.

    I suppose that's what's meant by our grand legacy of Scandinavian policy and community-building. Or maybe it was shipping all those Japanese off during World War II. Sure, that was an executive decision (although Roosevelt is a Dutch name and the Netherlands are awfully close to Scandinavia!) but it was endorsed whole-heartedly by an awful lot of people here in the Northwest. I'm sure our overwhelmingly white makeup made sure everyone got their stuff back when they were released.

    Do I think anything I do's going to "stop actual racism"? No, not really, but then again I know racism when I see it and I'm pretty sure you're not doing anything to stop it either.

  • Tom S (unverified)
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    Darrel Plant-

    Yeah the same part of the country that has good planning also had a lot of Klan activity several decades ago. So good planning, etc. must be racist.

    Good God, is this how PC any discusion of race has to be? Does every city have to be above averagely black in order to have any of that cities' policies not condemned as racist because they are from that city?

    Is this just another PC case of liberals finding reasons to find fault in each other rather than going after the conservatives?

  • gl (unverified)
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    Darrell Plant: you hit this one head on!

    http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/2008/05/28/101-being-offended/

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    Yeah the same part of the country that has good planning also had a lot of Klan activity several decades ago. So good planning, etc. must be racist.

    Tom, that's not my assertion. That's the point of the article Karol's quoting from in the original post. That's the point Michael B. made when he wrote "Our good policy has been made possible partly because of our whiteness."

    My own view is that -- for whatever reasons -- Oregon's relative progressivism has been despite a legacy of racism.

  • Michael B (unverified)
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    darrelplant

    I never made an assertion that good policy is the result of whiteness. I was trying to explain how to apply the thesis of the portion of the book Karol is lifted a quote from, to Portland. People here, including you, are misunderstanding the meaning and misapplying the thesis to Portland. The quote had a lot of context behind it that this thread is entirely ignorant of. I did find the book's thesis persuasive: that homogeneous societies are less prone to racial and religious divisions impacting/distracting their political debates, and therefore more able to enact pragmatic policies. However, I do not have the expertise to make the argument myself. At any rate, I assert that the book made interesting points and before anyone calls the author a racist, they should at least have a vague understanding of what the book had to say.

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    gl, David Brooks mapped out SWPL's ouevre long ago, and he was just as unfunny, but at least you could watch him chortle at his own attempts at humor and then lick his lips with his lizardy little tongue.

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    You're doing good work Darrel, up there alone on the barricades.

    I think you pretty much summed it all up with this though:

    Do I think anything I do's going to "stop actual racism"? No, not really, but then again I know racism when I see it and I'm pretty sure you're not doing anything to stop it either.

    Anytime anyone posts a Libruls are Racists Too Dog Whistle like this one, anxious and good hearted Libs try earnestly to either:

    A) confess their guilt and vow to do better, or; B) defend themselves as non-racist in a conciliatory and apologetic manner.

    I blame Cornell West, but that's just me......

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    I never made an assertion that good policy is the result of whiteness.

    That's odd. Who wrote this then?

    A correct application of the book's thesis to Portland would be to say that Portland's homogeneity (whiteness) and its Scandinavian heritage have both played a role in Portland's ability to implement community-spirited policies. Portland is not getting whiter because of our policies. Our good policy has been made possible partly because of our whiteness.

    White, Scandinavian, community-spirited. A lot of undefined, unsupported terms thrown around.

    According to the 1900 census, the countries with the largest numbers of first-generation immigrants into Portland were Canada (2,209), China (6,943), England (1,922), Germany (4,469), Ireland (1,741), Japan (1,191), and Sweden (1,711). None of the other Nordic countries even broke 1,000. Together, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland barely break 3,000. The figures for second-generation ancestry are even more lopsided. The whole Scandinavian heritage thing just doesn't hold up. That's not to say that there aren't Scandinavians -- I grew up looking forward to Junction City's Scandinavian Festival every year -- but they've never been a predominant ethnic group in either Portland or the state.

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    Thanks for the kind words, Pat.

    It's hardly that I don't think liberals can be racists. I think we all can, just as we can all be prone to violence. I'm no exceptionalist.

  • Michael B (unverified)
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    darrelplant

    You think you have a problem with the thesis of a chapter of a book you haven't read more than one sentence of. I read the book, and I have tried earnestly to explain this thesis in the few seconds I can spare from a busy day, and in doing so I have "thrown around" a lot of "undefined unsupported terms". You got me. As long as you don't read the book, you can be certain you won.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Some interesting ideas and cross currents here to be sure. As one who has lived all over the world, and chose southern Oregon as my adopted home 14 years ago I'd suggest some reasons:

    1. The towns and cities of the south/midwest tend to have a higer concentration of family relatives that choose to stay close to each other. This is a variable that knows neither class nor racial limitations.

    2. Western states were primarily settled by the Scandinavian immigrants of the time. The Irish and Italian immigrants tended to stay in the Northeast and upper great lakes, but the others moved on towards the Pacific Coast.

    3. For a variety of reasons, the black population, newly fred chose to stay in the South, midwest and east. They rarely moved out West.

    4. Seattle, Portland and San Francisco had a much higher percentage of minority Asian immigrants due to the gold rush and railroads than anything else. As other nationalities moved to the US they settled on the west coast and make up the diverse population that includes blacks, but is not dominated by blacks.

    While an interesting commentary, the article seems more a problem seeking adventure than true social commentary.

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    Sounds like we need more Scandinavians, or people of really pink color.

  • George Anonymuncule Seldes (unverified)
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    Sam Smith, now of Maine after a career of citizen journalism in DC has a very telling piece that seems to apply pretty well to Portland:

    Sam Smith, Progressive Review, 2006 - My introduction to the impact of urban planning came in the late 1950s as a radio reporter. I was sent to interview a woman who was refusing to move out of her house in DC's Southwest urban renewal area. Hundreds of acres had been leveled around her and still she clung on like a survivor of the Dresden carpet bombing. The project, the largest in the nation, had begun in April 1954 and five years later some 550 acres had been cleared. Only 300 families remained to be relocated. More than 20,000 people and 800 businesses had been kicked out to make way for the plan. Some 80% of the latter never went back into operation. The design was hailed by planners and liberals; a 1955 report for the District was titled No Slums in Ten Years. Just as today, many liberals saw nothing wrong with eminent domain as long as it produced a more purified community. Not everyone was so sanguine, however. One of the leaders in the fight against SW urban renewal was Rev. Walter Fauntroy, later active in the civil rights movement. And in a 1959 report of the National Conference of Catholic Charities, the Rt. Rev. Msg. John O'Grady said, "It is sad. It is not urban renewal; it is a means of making a few people rich. Instead of improving housing conditions, it is shifting people around from one slum to another." The Supreme Court disagreed. In 1954 it had upheld the underlying law and in a decision written by none other than William O. Douglas, declared: "It is within the power of the legislature to determine that the community should be beautiful as well as healthy, spacious as well as clean, well-balanced as well as carefully patrolled . . . The experts concluded that if the community were to be healthy, if it were not to revert again to a blighted or slum area, as though possessed by a congenital disease, the area must be planned as a whole." Years later, a woman who had lived in Southwest recalled that when her mentally ill mother had a spell, there were always neighbors or relatives to take her in and shield her from what was happening. It wasn't until they were forced out of the community of Southwest and had to live alone that she learned how sick her mother was. Today, the new Southwest is rarely cited as a model of urban living. It reflects the planning biases of the 50s - cold, boxy construction and a lack of convenient shops, thanks in part to the deal struck at the time with the now struggling commercial mall. Many people seem to prefer less planned communities, places whose character developed from those who live and work there rather than being imposed from without. In the years to come, I would become involved in endless planning battles both as a journalist and as an activist. Many were successful such as the effort to end the freeways that threatened to turn DC into an east coast Los Angeles and the campaign to save the historic buildings along Pennsylvania Avenue that the planners wanted to trash. Some were not, such as the effort by small business people to stay in downtown DC. In my own neighborhood we fought off developers three times on one site until a builder came up with a decent plan. The group leading the fight disbanded with $3,000 left in its bank account which was given to another group fighting yet another soon successful battle. We stopped a ten story office building, saving instead one of the earliest park and shops in the country. And we even defeated the local bishop of the Episcopal Diocese, leaving the community with a place to run its dogs for the next thirty years. During this whole period, I only once came across an urban plan actually designed for the people who lived in the place being planned, and that one had a non-governmental patron. Lady Bird Johnson had gotten landscape architect Lawrence Halprin - the man who thought it was all right for children to play in his fountains - to propose improvements to the then ethnically and economically mixed neighborhood of Capitol Hill where I lived in 60s. Colorful Mexican playground equipment began appearing at local public schools and children in vest pocket parks found turtle sculptures on which to climb. In a relatively short time, Capitol Hill became not only more attractive but more fun. It was an exception, but an instructive one: how it feels when a planner works for the citizens and not the government. In nearly every other instance it was either explicitly or implicitly assumed that the plan would attract a better class of people and business to the place being planned. The people presently there were at best an afterthought. An article by J. William Thompson in Land Online speaks of Halprin's "democratic identification with the people who built his landscapes and those who use them. For this, to my knowledge, no award is ever given - yet it's a quality I consider crucial to the building of great landscapes. . . I discovered a very different side of Halprin when he led me on a tour of the FDR Memorial in Washington, D.C., at its opening in 1997. What struck me first was Halprin's absolute joy at seeing the public take possession of the memorial. 'Boy, look at all those people!' he exclaimed as we turned the corner into the first memorial room and saw the crowds; he was even more delighted that, as he pointed out, the crowds were flowing through the memorial's rooms in the patterns that he had 'choreographed.' Looking back, I realize that the memorial is successful because Halprin had cared deeply about how users would move through it. . . 'Equally inspiring were Halprin's interactions with the construction crew, with whom he seemed to have bonded in an almost paternal way. . . Somehow, Halprin had created a community of intense purpose. He was the master builder, but every single person involved in the effort understood that he or she was creating something of great public value that would endure for centuries. In short, Halprin had the power to rally the foot soldiers in the service of a vision of democratic urban space that he himself glimpsed long before."
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    According to the 1900 census, the countries with the largest numbers of first-generation immigrants into Portland were Canada (2,209), China (6,943), England (1,922), Germany (4,469), Ireland (1,741), Japan (1,191), and Sweden (1,711). None of the other Nordic countries even broke 1,000. Together, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland barely break 3,000. The figures for second-generation ancestry are even more lopsided. The whole Scandinavian heritage thing just doesn't hold up.

    This is getting pretty far off-topic, but looking at the 1900 census probably isn't the right data point. Most of the Scandinavian immigrants to Oregon arrived in the following two decades.

    The history I know is the history of Finnish immigration. The "great migration" started in 1899, when the Russians - who controlled Finland then - started a process of Russification, essentially low-grade ethnic cleansing (without the slaughter and rape).

    Again, there's a reason that Portland State chose, as its mascot, the "Vikings". Sure, that's not a hard scientific data point, but it is a cultural one. To this day, PSU has a Scandinavian languages program.

    The Finns - and other Scandinavians largely immigrated to northern coastal Oregon, Astoria and environs.

    The Klan movement in Oregon was largely centered in Southern Oregon. Many of those folks were Appalachian migrants -- essentially ethnic Scotch-Irish. (That's why it's "Klan", not exactly a big leap from "clan".)

    So no, Darrel, the horrible history of the Klan in Oregon is not "what's meant by our grand legacy of Scandinavian policy and community-building."

    I'll assume that you were just being snarky, rather than attempting an accurate history.

  • Alex Tinker (unverified)
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    From WashPo in 2006:

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

    I grew up just north of Alberta Park, and when I was a kid our block looked like a United Colors of Benetton ad (if they ever did an "it's cool to be broke" line).

    At least the way it felt to me, us white kids were actually in the minority. I live a block away from the house I grew up in today, and just about all of the black families have left.

    All the poor white folk are gone too - and I bet if we ran the numbers with precision for this part of town, the truth would be that low-income people have been gentrified away, and it just happens that many of them, though certainly not all, were people of color.

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    This is starting to remind me of those crazies who claimed Kennewick Man was Norwegian.

    So no, Darrel, the horrible history of the Klan in Oregon is not "what's meant by our grand legacy of Scandinavian policy and community-building."

    Kari, I never said the Klan had anything to do with the Scandinavians. In fact, my argument was that the Scandinavian influence in Portland and Oregon was less than has been implied by others in this discussion, and if you'd bothered to think that out, you'd have realized that if I didn't think the Scandinavians were the dominant group of settlers in the area that my opinion would be that the Klan was probably made up of people who weren't Scandinavian.

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    According to the 1920 census, Portland had a population of 258,288. Of those, it classified 47,114 as "foreign-born white". That's about 18%.

    Norway: 2,915; Sweden: 5,060, Denmark: 1,365; Finland: 1,394. And what the hell, I'll throw in Netherlands: 365. That's a total of 11,099 Scandinavians, about 4.3% of the population.

    There were 6,104 listing England, Scotland, or Wales as a place of birth. Almost two thousand Irish. Over 1,200 Swiss. 5,400 Germans and 1,599 Austrians. More than 5,000 Russians. And don't forget the 6,437 Canadians! All of them outweighed by more than 205,000 people in Portland alone who had either been born here or (more likely) come from somewhere else in the country.

    Undoubtedly, some of those people were also of Scandinavian heritage, but please, no more pointing to the PSU mascot as "evidence" of anything. It could have been named after a furry animal or a bird or something and then where would your argument be?

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    the truth would be that low-income people have been gentrified away

    How, exactly?

    There are many, many, many problems with Measures 5 and 47/50, but one positive effect is that rising home prices does NOT mean rising property taxes.

    So, in a world where your property taxes don't go up as your property values go up - how, exactly, do home owners in those areas get "gentrified away"?

    Moreover, there are lots and lots and lots of problems with gentrification, but it's also true that if long-time residents see their property values rise dramatically and then choose to leave, they've likely cashed out pretty nicely.

    So, there are some individual benefits to the gentrification - even as there are surely community-wide costs.

    (And yes, it's true that some people are renters - and rising rents will drive people off. But renters have always been a transient population, by definition.)

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    So, in a world where your property taxes don't go up as your property values go up - how, exactly, do home owners in those areas get "gentrified away"?

    Do you really not know the answer to this, Kari?

    Home owners don't but renters do. People on low-incomes tend not to be able to afford to buy houses, even when they're not horribly overpriced. It's difficult to get a loan. It's difficult to save money for a down payment. So poor people tend to rent.

    As housing prices go up, people who've bought up properties in "low-rent" neighborhoods tend to sell them off. Which usually means that the renters have to move. And if the area they're living in is in the process of gentrification, then they probably can't find another house -- or even an apartment -- to rent at a price they can afford.

    The Sunnyside neighborhood on the north side of Belmont went through just this process two decades ago. In the '70s and '80s, housing in the neighborhood was cheap and people bought it up as investment rental property. My wife and I were both working at a bookstore, making very little money, and the house we were renting had been up for sale several times but the market was so bad it still hadn't sold. Our landlord actually offered to take a couch for it as a down payment but it was right up against a battery shop and had no yard.

    Then, around 1989, things started changing and houses in the neighborhood began selling. Prices started rising. We started pulling every trick we could to get pre-approved for a loan. We used a couple thousand dollars from my mother-in-law's estate as a down payment and got a house just three blocks from where we had been living, which was good because that place sold, too. Two houses across the street from us (and a number of others in the neighborhood) were owned by a slumlord and they were taken over for failure to pay property taxes and condemned. Bums started breaking into them and living in the basement, peeing off the front porch. But eventually they got fixed up, they sold for a lot more money than they'd been bought for, and our house went up in value as well.

    But if we hadn't been able to scrape together enough money to buy the place then (which in our case took the catastrophic death of my wife's mother), we sure couldn't afford to buy it now and we'd be living out in Rockwood or something. Which is probably where a lot of the people who were renting in this neighborhood twenty years ago are now.

  • Not Surprised (unverified)
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    Karol asks how Portland can become a more attractive place for minorities. Most commenters can't even get next to the idea that this city lacks racial diversity or dispute it's importance. Yeah, we have NO problem talking about race here.

  • Paul Cox (unverified)
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    Middle-class negroes do just find here. Are you asking how we can attract more poor?

    Most I've seen are only interested in religion or rock. It's nice to be able to tell the good from the evil, and it's easy. Between liberal atheists and nearly legal dope to smoke, Portland doesn't have much to offer either.

    You want mroe rock? Then, if you're serious, Missy, that leaves it with religion. You serious? Then go to church this Sunday.

  • JerryB (unverified)
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    It seems to me that it would be more productive to discuss specific laws or actions that are excluding diversity rather than simply saying that there are not enough of one race, or the premise of this post, too many of another.

  • Mike M (unverified)
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    </address>Kari asked:

    <quote> So, in a world where your property taxes don't go up as your property values go up - how, exactly, do home owners in those areas get "gentrified away"?</quote>

    Assessed values can go up a certain percentage each year, so even with that same assessment per thousand, taxes can go up a small percentage each year. And of course new bond measures, special assessments, and other initiatives can increase one's property tax each year.

    Combine that with property being sold and bought again, the assessed valuation is not capped by the property tax limitation measures.

    As for Portland being "white": when I moved to the metro area in the mid-70s, there wasn't very much variety in the restaurants or the food available for purchase at the local supermarkets. In the 35 years since, I've seen an explosion in the different types of foods available in regular supermarkets as well as specialty markets, and we are now a mecca for foodies, with specialties from around the world available in every neighborhood restaurant.

    Either a lot of native Portlanders have been traveling, and bring bag their food cravings, or we're attracting a diverse set of people who want to share their food and customs with the rest of the natives here.

    Finally, out in Wash Co, the Beaverton School District was complaining a few years back about the challenge trying to teach children of parents new to the area. Over 100 different languages were spoken in the various homes just in the northern area of the district, the fastest growing one.

    Diversity? You bet we have it, and it has grown quite a bit in the 35 years I have been in the area.

  • Doug Allen (unverified)
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    Kari, it is very easy for low income homeowners to get gentrified away. They refinance with a cash-out, then their payments go up. A temporary income drop (or a bubble bursts) and they are gone. They sell to an opportunist who has the resources to purchase and "flip" the house to someone from California or elsewhere who had the good fortune to sell a short while back. The original homeowner maybe can't afford to do the repairs and cosmetic fixes or move out and stage the interior with props to get a top price. At least this is what has happened in my neighborhood (SE) over the past 20 years.

  • Del (unverified)
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    I think the truth is undeniable.

  • steve (unverified)
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    Articles like this one strike me as being racist, in the most negative sense. The underlying argument is that Portland is "liberal", and Portland has a low percentage of African-Americans. Thus, few Portlanders know "the truth" about African-Americans, so their liberalism is simply a product of their ignorance and shouldn't be taken seriously by "real" Americans who know first hand about the how n*s really behave. Sickening, but that is how I interpret this crap.

  • steve (unverified)
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    My previous comment seems to have disappeared, which is probably good since it might have come across as offensive. My point is that the logic in the article on which this thread is based seems to have a nasty racist subtext. Some cities that are "liberal" have a below-average percentage of non-whites, which (reading between the lines) means that they would be less liberal if there were more non-whites around. The subtext seems to be that liberalism is something that can only prosper in a white-homogeneous society, as a product of ignorance about non-white cultures, and that non-white cultures cause more conservative views in white populations, presumably due to negative features of these cultures. This strikes me as being profoundly racist.

  • (Show?)

    Darrel, I specifically mentioned that I wasn't talking about renters. You seem to dismiss the notion of gentrification of property owners - but since renters are generally transient anyway, it's the gentrification of property owners that's the real problem -- and what we don't have here in Oregon anymore. (Recent phenomenon, since 47/50. Which, as I said, are problematic for many reasons - but actually improve the gentrification problem.)

    Mike M, you noted that property assessments can go up a little bit (it's 3%) annually, which is right. But then you wrote, "Combine that with property being sold and bought again, the assessed valuation is not capped by the property tax limitation measures." And that's wrong. A sale resets the assessed value of the house in California, under Prop 13, but not here in Oregon under Measures 47/50.

    Besides, my point was that because of the property tax assessment limit, it doesn't matter if the paper value of your house goes up, as long as you can make the mortgage payment, there's nothing tax-wise that causes gentrification. (Cultural gentrification is another thing altogether.)

    And Doug, you're basically right about how an income drop can cause someone to sell - especially if they've gotten overleveraged through a refinance. Sure. And that's a tragedy. But that can happen anywhere, anytime, to anyone. That's not gentrification; that's just bad luck or a bad decision. Gentrification is the specific phenomenon where large numbers of people "work hard and play by the rules" and yet, due to rising property values around them, get taxed out of their homes. Due to Measures 47/50, that won't happen in Oregon anymore.

  • Paul Cox (unverified)
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    Posted by: Kari Chisholm | Oct 30, 2009 12:51:31 AM

    Darrel, ...

    Mike M, ...

    And Doug, ...

    "Now the rest of you can go to hell". One would hae thought that mainstream smuggness would have hurt the junior Senator from Oregon. Not in this unreal world.

    Posted by: steve | Oct 29, 2009 11:27:52 PM

    My previous comment seems to have disappeared

    You're "the rest of"...

  • Barrister Big Johnson (unverified)
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    Posted by: darrelplant | Oct 29, 2009 10:19:15 AM

    This is starting to remind me of those crazies who claimed Kennewick Man was Norwegian.

    So no, Darrel, the horrible history of the Klan in Oregon is not "what's meant by our grand legacy of Scandinavian policy and community-building."
    

    Kari, I never said the Klan had anything to do with the Scandinavians. In fact, my argument was that the Scandinavian influence in Portland and Oregon was less than has been implied by others in this discussion, and if you'd bothered to think that out, you'd have realized that if I didn't think the Scandinavians were the dominant group of settlers in the area that my opinion would be that the Klan was probably made up of people who weren't Scandinavian.

    This is so stupid. Darrel's good point provides a wonderful illustration. Identity politics carves everything up. Reality is not black and white. Scandinavians, indeed! And who are they, exactly? Well, they're people like the Scots clan McNeal. 100% Viking, slowly adopting Celtic religion, eventually being subjugated to a Scot king, but still 100% Scandinavian. Surely only oppression and brainwashing keeps today's Scots from returning to Norway, Denmark and Iceland and discovering their inner Viking! Surely this was racist. And it's interesting how real genocide, like their purging the Shetlands and Hebrides of all Celtic males is forgiven, after the same is attempted against them. Ditto the history of black slavery in Africa. Hmmm. Africa is a pretty inhospitable place to live, from a progressive point of view. Wonder why there are so many blacks living there?

    This is obviously pent up spleen after a period of self-imposed silence, trying to be all acceptable for the HD seat. It also proves again, that the merit of the post is inversely proportional to the number of responses.

    And one serious point. If you want to make Portland more attractive to blacks, be less green. Green isn't popular among poor blacks, and middle class blacks aren't avoiding it, so you must mean the poor. Maybe an ad. campaign is needed to explain that it's only greenwash, not to be afraid. It's like BO green. You take something that's really motivated by party blue, add some yellow journalism, and you get green!

    Blacks know that progressive issues like population control is just another attempt by whitey to keep them in chains. No slack for the black in the city of slack!

  • Barrister Big Johnson (unverified)
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    Read and re-read Doug Allen's post. The only color that matters is the color of your money. Karol seems like some hold-over from the OJ trial that really thinks it's about the system vs the black man. Yeah, it was poor vs rich, but the poor were sitting at the prosecutors bench. Who won, btw? Of course, anyone that refers to Michael Jackson as "a black man" is pretty much out to lunch. I've never understood how identity politics is supposed to be liberating, when it brings up to date the old, racist idea, that any non-white blood, even 1%, makes you non-white. I'm Irish, but I can tell you that I'm one hell of a lot blacker than the President!

    Willy Brown has said, "SF isn't a good place to live if you're poor. You would probably be better off living somewhere else". Does "poor" not represent a number of racial demographics? He effectively said, "blacks and Mexicans probably won't like it here, so go somewhere else". It's amazing how a black man says it and it isn't an issue.

    Of course, every day we can turn on the TV and see the same old same old, but it's different because a black man is doing it. That, my good woman, is racist.

    Now, if you want to really pursue a number that speaks to quality of life, how about talking about how people with higher IQs flee the US, in general? Willing to do ANYTHING to make this city or any other less intellect hostile? You seldom propose anything that isn't at the level of some high school clique. Ahhh, for the good old days, when sad, sorry people were ashamed. Now they're challenged.

  • (Show?)

    Kari, look back at the thread. Alex Tinker wrote:

    All the poor white folk are gone too - and I bet if we ran the numbers with precision for this part of town, the truth would be that low-income people have been gentrified away, and it just happens that many of them, though certainly not all, were people of color.

    And you responded with "How, exactly?" Sure, you were talking about home owners, but Alex's comment was about "low-income people". He didn't say "low-income home owners".

    If you respond to a comment and change the parameters of the discussion either intentionally or inadvertently, don't whine when you get caught.

    As for renters being "transient", well that's not always the case in neighborhoods where people are renting houses, Kari. Particularly in parts of a city where "some people" weren't always welcomed as renters outside of a designated area, even if they could afford the rent. Low-income renters -- particularly those people with families -- tend to stick to a house for a long time if they find a landlord they can deal with and a place that suits them. Moving is costly and difficult when you're poor, Kari.

    And this definition is just bogus:

    Gentrification is the specific phenomenon where large numbers of people "work hard and play by the rules" and yet, due to rising property values around them, get taxed out of their homes.

    Getting taxed out of your home is one of the least of the causes of gentrification. It's about as accurate as saying that the government forcing banks to lend to low-income home buyers is what caused last year's financial crisis.

  • (Show?)

    I agree with darrelplant's point about the ways in which gentrification is being misconstrued here. And as others have noted, "diversity" is also being construed in very, very different ways.

    Coincidentally, Myron Orfield, one of country's best analysts of patterns of gentrification and inequity in economic and community development, is in town. The Oregonian had a profile on him this morning. As Orfield and colleagues note, the most harmful social and economic effects on communities are those created by concentrated poverty, and concentrated poverty correlates very closely with race in the U.S.

    Orfield has studied Portland for years, and while he has many positive things to say about our fair city, he illustrates perfectly that however you want to define "diversity," segregation can increase even as the overall population becomes more diverse.

    His take home point: "In 1998 there were only 14 elementary schools in the Portland area with more than 50 percent minority populations. In 2008, that number had grown to 67 schools. Left unchecked, these trends will very quickly result in a highly segregated system of regional schools."

    The primary cause of school segregation is housing segregation.

  • (Show?)

    As Orfield and colleagues note, the most harmful social and economic effects on communities are those created by concentrated poverty, and concentrated poverty correlates very closely with race in the U.S. ...

    The primary cause of school segregation is housing segregation.

    Dan -- Does that suggest that gentrification is a good thing? It certainly seems to me that as low-income communities spread out throughout the metro area, it's more likely that low-income families will attend schools with a large number of middle-income families - so better schools, etc.

    If gentrification - however narrowly or broadly you define it - is a phenomenon that reduces the concentration of poverty, is it - on balance - a social good?

    Not arguing here, just asking. It's an interesting idea...

  • (Show?)
    It certainly seems to me that as low-income communities spread out throughout the metro area, it's more likely that low-income families will attend schools with a large number of middle-income families - so better schools, etc.

    That would probably be a good thing if that's what actually happens, but all too often we've seen city-endorsed development with promises of mixed-in low-income housing get built without the low-income housing ever actually showing up. Or, if it does show up it's less than promised and it's usually still only rental properties as opposed to something that people on lower incomes could actually afford to buy and built equity. Not that that's a problem peculiar to Portland.

    Otherwise, gentrification of a poor neighborhood just leads to people moving to the next poorest part of town, which is what I think Orfield meant in the article when he said: "It shouldn't be a musical chairs game when an area gentrifies."

  • (Show?)

    Again, I agree with darrel, and, no - "gentrification" is, in my experience, almost always used pejoratively. Orfield, john powell, etc. all favor ending/reducing concentrated poverty. But at least to me, "gentrification" suggests upscaling a neighborhood not by improving the conditions for current residents or developing genuinely mixed neighborhoods, but instead, as darrel describes, pushing low-income people out to areas that are equally economically deprived and that even further lack basic services, job opportunities, transportation, etc.

    Alan Durning of Sightline Institute just posted a NYTimes article on FB about what happened to a program of public bicycle rentals in Paris. To quote Alan’s comment, which is very apropos this thread, “Working class, immigrant, and youthful resentment of disparities in Paris's living standards is killing the city's world-famous fleet of public bicycles: further proof that ‘green’ doesn't work in the context of social and economic disparities.” Could just as easily be Portland, no?

  • Virgil Breedlove, Jr. (unverified)
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    Yeah, we need more of those "good people that just happen to cause crime" !

    "Breedlove Consultants: The Politician Whisperers. Breaking political stallions one at a time". "Go environmental all the way. Camp with a politician".

  • Winky Dink Wogic (unverified)
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    Where do Latinos and Asians fit in as part of the "people of color" and overall diversity of a city?

    "Latino" is a legal definition. They are caucasians. Asians, well, you know in China they believe that they are descended from a homo erectus migration, directly, not the Cro-Magnon "out of Africa" event? That means that, quite literally, they don't think of themselves as human like us. We should listen to them. Spend a week-end camping with friends. Spend a week-end in Beijing. They are not human like us. They will eat the last whatever on earth and not blink an eye.

  • David Duke Supporter (unverified)
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    The progressive paragon of Portland is the whitest on the list

    and that attracts major business. If you want to screw Portland, hang out in the Hollyweird District! Nothing says "progressive city" like lesbian street walkers!!!

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