Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America by Rich Benjamin is a must read. I will be getting it soon. I have read his article, “Refugees of Diversity” on this issue in The American Prospect.
I think most people, black or white, equate good neighborhoods with a majority white population, high property taxes, and great schools. “Keep those renters out because they will undoubtedly be lower income, minorities that will bring in blighted communities, crime, and drug use,” is the thought. My daughter commented just a couple of days ago that there were only a hand full of black folks in her homeroom. She is in middle school. I told her that this wasn’t the case in her classrooms. She said that it was in fact the case. I had a “Aha” moment. This is where the the equating of whiteness with better begins. She is just now conceptualizing that her community is majority white. We chose this area to get more bang for our mortgage buck and for the better schools. Incidentally that translated into a majority white area. This is problematic and the perpetuation of a long held stereotype. This is why Rich Benjamin’s book is so timely. Of course I don’t want my daughter to internalize this thinking.
I’ve heard political commentators mostly of the Republican persuasion remark about blacks as a monolithic group due to their voting trends: voting along racial lines. No. No. If you want to see a group that sticks together, it is white people. I remember when I was in elementary school in downtown Atlanta just before white flight took hold. During my 3rd grade year, my school was majority white. The next year, all the white people had left and it was majority black. Talk about organizing and galvanizing to leave the city. Wow. The county I live in now is very big and still considered majority white. There are parts of it that now have a majority Latino population. I see the white people beginning to move further out. I look around waiting for this to happen in our neighborhood.
We are far from a post-racial America.