A short (I promise) follow-up to Parma tweetstorm below:
1. One argument you often hear in defense of the resistance to housing integration in places like Parma is that white ppl. weren't opposed..
2. ... to integration per se. They were opposed to integrating via public housing, because of all the social problems projects bring, etc.
3. One of the ppl. .@Chris_arnade talks to basically says this. No one in Parma, he says, would object if a black lawyer moved next door.
4. The problem, according to this Parma resident, is that integration doesn't mean doctors moving in. It means poor people moving in.
5. This isn't totally off base. Integrating a community by building public housing is different from having black homeowners integrate it.
6. But most of the time, the real issue driving opposition to integration is not what class of ppl. are moving in. It's what race they are.
7. Personal story: In the late 1970s, I lived in a middle-class town in northern CT. Our neighborhood was mixed in terms of education, etc.
8. Dad of family across street was a Teamster. Dad of people across the other street ran a canned-foods distributor. My dad was a chem. eng.
9. (And, yes, as far as I remember, the breadwinners in these families were all men.)
10. Anyway, we moved away in 1977. A black family bought our house. It was the first black family in the neighborhood.
11. When my friends' parents found out, quite a few became angry with my parents. Told them they should find a different buyer.
13. Now, what's really amazing about this is that the guy who bought our house was an engineer. He worked for Pratt & Whitney.
14. This was not someone from "the projects." This was not someone who anyone could object to because of his job, his lifestyle, etc.
15. But none of that mattered. The only thing that mattered was his race. That's what the problem was.
16. It's true that our neighbors weren't just worried about living next door to a black person. They were worried about property values.
17. But the fear that a black engineer was somehow going to lower the value of their homes was itself an expression of pervasive racism.
18. So, again, ppl. in places like Parma have lots of explanations for why they fought integration so fiercely. Some may even be a bit true.
19. But, in the end, most opposition to integration is not an expression of economic anxiety or anomie. It's an expression of racism.