because leaving isn't exactly an option
January 8, 2016 9:42 AM   Subscribe

GOPLifer writes Why I Live In A White Neighborhood

"With the benefit of hindsight I better appreciate my realtor’s dilemma. We wanted to live in a safe, affordable, diverse neighborhood close to the city, featuring great public schools and first class infrastructure. In other words a fantasy town conjured from the imaginations of idealistic young idiots."
posted by the man of twists and turns (184 comments total) 57 users marked this as a favorite
 
That was ... much better than I expected from a person calling himself "GOPLifer."

(No, I don't have any unexamined biases, why do you ask?)
posted by gauche at 9:50 AM on January 8, 2016 [15 favorites]


Wow, this is really good.
posted by Slothrup at 9:52 AM on January 8, 2016


This kills:
The income it takes to continue living here is far less than the income you’ll need to get here in the first place. Paying a mortgage requires an income. Getting a mortgage requires capital. Where does a couple with small children in their early 30’s get the capital to live in a place like this? Few get it from their work alone.
Indeed, like gauche, I was surprised how good this turned out to be considering the writer's name.
posted by General Malaise at 9:59 AM on January 8, 2016 [25 favorites]


That piece is an uncomfortable mix of tell it like it is descriptions of "institutional racism" and carefully separated assurances that there are no racists behind the racism. All of the bad behavior (and attitudes) is in the distant past, so far back that "blue-collar whites" are excused for being racist now since no one would ever want to be treated like a minority, especially someone who isn't one.

The insights are just fine, but I can't help but feel this article was written to comfort racist shitheads who don't want to feel personally racist.
posted by OmieWise at 10:02 AM on January 8, 2016 [37 favorites]


In my experience you can compromise to some extent on one or two of those and achieve all the others. And here a man representing himself as "GOPLifer" opts to abandon entirely the diversity parameter in favor of a fantasy town made real by racist old dickheads.
posted by cmoj at 10:07 AM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Every town in America is a fantasy town conjured from the imaginations of idealistic young idiots.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 10:08 AM on January 8, 2016 [18 favorites]


I'd be really curious to read how his conservative philosophy contributed to his understanding of the current situation, and whether he can use it to offer any solutions.
posted by Think_Long at 10:10 AM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


It is interesting (and sometimes surprising) to compare the demographics (racial, income, etc) of where you live compared to other places. If you are in the US, the Census has an easy to use interface (or at least a lot easier than it used to be) for getting that data. Other places, like ESRI, have prettier interfaces and different ways of breaking out the data.

I liked the way the author discussed the historical and wealth-related reasons for segregation, but I agree that there was excessive downplaying of the reasons people still actively choose to segregate. Code words like "good schools" are still used to signal things about race and definitely guide many people's housing choices, over and above the benign "I just wanted a good neighborhood for my kids" that the author discusses.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:12 AM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


None of us have to recognize the machinery at work in order to benefit from it.

God, if only we could somehow make everyone on the planet aware of the veracity of this statement.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:12 AM on January 8, 2016 [27 favorites]


That piece is an uncomfortable mix of tell it like it is descriptions of "institutional racism" and carefully separated assurances that there are no racists behind the racism.

Your comment made me think of Bonilla-Silva's Racism Without Racists.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:14 AM on January 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


Towns like ours were built in layers, first by generations of open racial discrimination in housing, then by block busting, and finally by the concentration of wealth as more affluent whites carved themselves out from the wider community. Perhaps no one intended to build a machine that would sort people into charming pockets of affluence like Elmhurst and desperate neighborhoods burdened by blight. Yet that’s what the rules of the game rewarded, so that’s what we got.

That's a funny combination of absolute truth, missing the point and hand-waving.

Racism? You bet.

Affluent whites carved themselves out from the wider community? Do you "carve yourself out" out of areas with skyrocketing crime rates and urban blight in the early 70s? Or are you a rational actor maximizing the utility of your resources?

Perhaps no one intended to build a machine? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Irvine Company, who's sole purpose was building communities for the affluent. Draw a line right down the middle of Orange County, Calif. Low income on the left, Irvine Company influence on the right.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:19 AM on January 8, 2016 [10 favorites]


Perhaps no one intended to build a machine that would sort people into charming pockets of affluence like Elmhurst and desperate neighborhoods burdened by blight.

"I have never heard of redlining or blockbusting"
posted by RogerB at 10:26 AM on January 8, 2016 [22 favorites]


That piece is an uncomfortable mix of tell it like it is descriptions of "institutional racism" and carefully separated assurances that there are no racists behind the racism. All of the bad behavior (and attitudes) is in the distant past, so far back that "blue-collar whites" are excused for being racist now since no one would ever want to be treated like a minority, especially someone who isn't one.

GOPLifer is pretty excellent, and I've been a fan for a while. I think his tone does come across as very defensive of white privilege, especially if you're used to anti-racism work coming from non-white authors and thinkers. It used to bug me. But then I realized that I could use his language in conversations with actual racist white relatives, where someone like Ta-Nehisi or Jamelle Bouie would be a conversation ender.

White privilege is real, and white fragility is real, and talking to white GOP folks requires a tone that allows the conversation to continue.

The insights are just fine, but I can't help but feel this article was written to comfort racist shitheads who don't want to feel personally racist.


I agree, but I think it's a feature, not a bug! White anti-racists need to have conversations with white people about racism. That tone, by necessity, will be different than the tone used when talking to already converted anti-racist folks, or people who are oppressed by racism. And, as someone who has had a lot of these conversations with racist whites, I will say that there 100% needs to do some comforting of racist shitheads in order to get them to hear the truth.

Racist shitheads don't respond to accusations of racism with well reasoned dialog, or with well sourced arguments- they respond by getting too emotional to carry on the conversation, and by writing off whatever comment you made as "rabble rousing" or "anti-americanness" or whatever.

I used to do some grappling fightsport training stuff. Once, the instructor told us that while breaking a limb could be useful in the fight, sometimes *less* force allowed for more control- when you break someone's arm, you can no longer use it to pull or twist them around. By not breaking the arm, you could use that limb control to get the opponent into a more advantageous position. I think conversations follow a similar rule: being gentler can allow you to be more controlling, because the other option is a total breakdown in communication.

tl;dr Yes, he's being gentle to white racists. That's because he's trying to convince white racists.
posted by DGStieber at 10:28 AM on January 8, 2016 [99 favorites]


The first (large) part of the article is full of vague racism-is-in-the-system stuff that, while important, is not revelatory now.

This part made an impression:
No one comes here to buy a house. We are buying a membership...

...Earning the mere chance to compete means capitalizing on educational opportunities early. These white islands are educational incubators...

We spend practically nothing on security. Our children have access to some of the best educational and social opportunities that exist. Our investment in a house, thanks to the invisible and unspoken membership it includes, appreciates consistently at a level we would not have experienced in a less affluent block.
And then there's this slightly different, more immediately political, theme that seems mixed in:
Our colorblind settlement of years of racial discrimination produced some strange outcomes...For whites just slightly farther down the income scale, the end of racial segregation led to some very different outcomes.

Unable to attach themselves to wealthier whites, this new era of racial “equity” meant they experienced a new opportunity to be treated more or less the same as minorities. The energy behind Donald Trump and Ted Cruz boils down to one critical dynamic – for blue collar whites, the growth of pluralism offers nothing but the chance to share a common fate with black Americans.
posted by amtho at 10:30 AM on January 8, 2016 [7 favorites]


Racist shitheads don't respond to accusations of racism with well reasoned dialog, or with well sourced arguments- they respond by getting too emotional to carry on the conversation, and by writing off whatever comment you made as "rabble rousing" or "anti-americanness" or whatever.

Which is fine, really, because if there's anything I've benefited from as a liberal whose political consciousness goes back to Watergate, it's been the great care and deference for my feelings from the other side of the aisle.
posted by Gelatin at 10:33 AM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


I can't help but feel that this is a lefty engaged in some very, very clever psyops.
posted by maxsparber at 10:34 AM on January 8, 2016 [10 favorites]


Perhaps no one intended to build a machine that would sort people into charming pockets of affluence like Elmhurst and desperate neighborhoods burdened by blight.

"I have never heard of redlining or blockbusting"


But . . . he refers to blockbusting and discriminatory housing practices in the article?

Like, I know he's coming at it from a blinkered perspective, but I feel like when a conservative is at least approaching the ballpark of the "right idea", we should give some credit where it's due, while pointing out the inconsistencies and gaps in his logic.
posted by Think_Long at 10:37 AM on January 8, 2016 [16 favorites]


I can't help but feel that this is a lefty engaged in some very, very clever psyops.


Well, at this point, if he's an anti-racist Republican, he might as well be a member of the Red Brigades.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:37 AM on January 8, 2016 [20 favorites]


I can't help but feel that this is a lefty engaged in some very, very clever psyops.

I want to start an anonymous blog that uses logical arguments from conservative principals to "reluctantly" come to liberal conclusions.
posted by shothotbot at 10:38 AM on January 8, 2016 [20 favorites]


The insights are just fine, but I can't help but feel this article was written to comfort racist shitheads who don't want to feel personally racist.

Explicitly racist, I'd say. It's really worthwhile examining how racists now target secondary or accompanying attributes of the people they want to exclude. Racism becomes more like classism, and the US moves to a worker/rightsholder (property or otherwise) split that's hereditary, but still, just by coincidence, manages to exclude all of those whom the people at the top don't want to have to see.
posted by bonehead at 10:45 AM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


But . . . he refers to blockbusting and discriminatory housing practices in the article?

Yeah, sorry for being hasty and glib. He mentions the word, but honestly the stuff about blockbusting here is so analytically useless, so driven by the desire to excuse housing discrimination as merely unintended consequences of market mechanisms, that it's easily overlooked. Maybe we're just writing off all these analytical and historical failures and blind spots as rhetorical, taking it to be aimed at an audience so attached to free-market ideology that if it had more actual history it would just be rejected out of hand, but that strikes me as such a blanket excuse that it kind of obviates any discussion of the piece at all.
posted by RogerB at 10:45 AM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


I've always wondered why anyone would live in Elmhurst. There are much nicer places in Chicagoland from which to enjoy the spoils of institutionalized racism. "A safe, affordable, diverse neighborhood close to the city, featuring great public schools and first class infrastructure" might as well be Oak Park's village slogan (thanks, in part, to its open-housing ordinance and a history of combatting blockbusting.)
posted by ndg at 10:46 AM on January 8, 2016 [10 favorites]


I want to start an anonymous blog that uses logical arguments from conservative principals to "reluctantly" come to liberal conclusions.

So, like, some kind of anti-Slate?
posted by tobascodagama at 10:52 AM on January 8, 2016 [24 favorites]


I want to start an anonymous blog that uses logical arguments from conservative principals to "reluctantly" come to liberal conclusions.


President Obama, what are you doing on Metafilter? Don't you have a security briefing this afternoon?
posted by ocschwar at 10:54 AM on January 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


. . . he stuff about blockbusting here is so analytically useless, so driven by the desire to excuse housing discrimination as merely unintended consequences of market mechanisms, that it's easily overlooked.

I don't disagree, but I think the thesis of this piece is more that, whether you know it or not, you (the segregated home-buyer) are a product of racialized system. It is impossible to avoid. While incomplete, I think it's really refreshing to read a conservative acknowledge the US's inescapable racist hegemony.

I can see how some could read it as an attempt to disavow any conscious racism, but in that case, why would he write about this topic at all? Most conservatives refuse to acknowledge any racism in our economic system.
posted by Think_Long at 10:59 AM on January 8, 2016 [14 favorites]


I liked the way the author discussed the historical and wealth-related reasons for segregation, but I agree that there was excessive downplaying of the reasons people still actively choose to segregate.

I guess I read it differently. It seemed like he was saying you’re part of the institutional racism whether you think you are or not, you can be somewhat passively supportive. Like buying sweatshop made clothing.

I remember house shopping in Atlanta and how long it took us to decipher the coded messages we were getting from people; "the area you’re looking at is very Black". Oh, OK.
The people making those cryptic statements had their own various levels of racist assumptions, and/or they were trying to judge how strong mine were. Real estate is a really tricky area for this. As an agent, are you to just ignore people’s racist feelings when they are a legitimate part of their wish list? You have to take it into account, and you have to do it realizing that the client may not want to tell you.

We dealt with it thusly;
"Is it a bad area, is there a lot of crime, etc.?
"no"
"OK then, let’s just look at some more places there."
Now they knew where we stood and that part of the conversation was over. I had no reason to call them out, they were just doing their job and I don’t really care about their personal beliefs.

Racism is insidious, complicated, and subtle and not the black and white (!) subject people like to pretend it is (I know, not you, you’re 110%).
posted by bongo_x at 11:00 AM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


Who is this guy? A little more poking around and this:
First things first – Why do we need a minimum wage? Won’t a free market set wages at the correct rate?
A minimum wage is necessary to create a free market for labor. There is no free market if one side can coerce the other, or if one side has such disproportionate power that they can collude to manipulate prices. In a labor negotiation, particularly for low-end labor, one side has access to capital, political influence, and relative wealth. The other has a hungry family and a ticking clock. Remove the minimum wage and other protections and potential employers earn the ability to coerce potential employees, robbing them of value. That’s not a free market.
posted by klarck at 11:03 AM on January 8, 2016 [29 favorites]


There's a racist assumption throughout the whole piece that black families are all poor. That's really not true and is obviously offensive.
posted by w0mbat at 11:04 AM on January 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


There's a racist assumption throughout the whole piece that black families are all poor

I'd say more that he acknowledges that they have disproportionately suffered what I think Coates calls plunder. There are definitely wealthy black familes, they have access to the same exclusive spaces that he describes. What they lack are the institutional factors that make it easy to gain entry to such spaces.
posted by Octaviuz at 11:13 AM on January 8, 2016 [13 favorites]


I can’t see how it’s racist to point out that the average black family is poorer than the average white family in the US and the resultant effect of that imbalance is that white enclaves that were previously kept white by explicit racism are now kept mostly white by the financial barrier to be crossed in order to buy property there.

Unless I’m completely misreading the text, this seems to be pretty much his message & seems like an uncontroversial one to me: Yes, some black families have become rich & can now buy property in these kinds of places, but the majority don’t have that kind of wealthdue to relative poverty that has it’s roots in historical racism & so are excluded. The colour-blindness of the current “rules” does not mean that the outcomes are colour-blind because of the context in which they are applied.

Is this really a controversial thing to assert?
posted by pharm at 11:14 AM on January 8, 2016 [9 favorites]


There's a racist assumption throughout the whole piece that black families are all poor. That's really not true and is obviously offensive.

The author addresses that concern in the article:
In fact, by paying an additional premium that few can afford, minority families can now gain access as well. That premium is steep. White, black, brown or purple, if your family did not build up capital in an era when whites enjoyed explicitly protected status, you probably will not raise your children in Elmhurst. As access to the economic ladder comes to be increasingly defined by education, the consequences of residential segregation worsen.
That's what this is about. Sure there are visible minorities who escaped some the broad strokes, but the system is being rigged to set barriers ever higher, so that even the moderately well-off are excluded too, double-so for those who have had to already deal with disadvantage.

Indeed, the author notes that there were a few black people in his neighborhood and on his football team, but you have to think that's quite possibly the desired outcome to be able to say that "see we aren't racists!". To keep minority numbers acceptably low however, thumbs are pushing down hard on those scales.
posted by bonehead at 11:14 AM on January 8, 2016 [9 favorites]


"I have never heard of redlining or blockbusting"

From TFA:
Elmhurst and the county around it took its present character from the block-busting campaigns of the post-war era. The practice and its implications deserve a longer description, laid out at this link.
. . .
Towns like ours were built in layers, first by generations of open racial discrimination in housing, then by block busting, and finally by the concentration of wealth as more affluent whites carved themselves out from the wider community.
. . .
The fate of blue-collar white towns like Maywood, torn apart by blockbusting, steadily drove up real estate values in places like Hinsdale, Western Springs and Elmhurst.
I mean come on. There are things about the article to criticize, but maybe read it first.
posted by The World Famous at 11:19 AM on January 8, 2016 [15 favorites]


I was struck by/made uncomfortable with the equating of minority = poor/non-middle class here in a way that I think merits discussion [and which I see on preview is garnering discussion]. For example, "How many young minority families started their lives with the kind of family capital enjoyed by white peers, even their “middle class” white peers? Virtually none. Although on average African American households earn less than white households, the majority still fall in the middle class or higher range. For example, in the 2010 census about 1/3 of African American households had incomes above $50,000, and nearly 10% had incomes above $100,000, rates that are simultaneously SIGNIFICANTLY lower that for white households and SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER than "virtually none."
posted by drlith at 11:21 AM on January 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


I grew up in Elmhurst, and it's a horrible place to live and is full of GOPLifers. Left at 18, visited a few times and have never missed it for a second.
posted by mike_bling at 11:21 AM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


Ask yourself this simple question: Look down the street you live on, the building you live in, the two blocks in all the directions around you...how many non-whites live in those areas?
posted by Postroad at 11:23 AM on January 8, 2016


Not for the last time, I wish that we had a word specifically for the intersection where race and class meet. Because one of the things that I think comes up here is that the words we have are so broad that they not only wind up not saying very much specific at all, but the words themselves do not fit, and so the solutions can't fit.

The article really correctly points out that the type of neighborhoods he's talking about don't have a problem (at least, currently) with wealthy minorities, or even upper-middle-class ones. If you have the money to buy your way in there, you'll be totally unremarkable. They have no problem with a POC who is dressing in the clothing of upper-middle-class respectability (which has previously been white upper class respectability, natch), talking the language of upper-middle-class respectability, raising their children with the overprotection of upper-middle-class sensibility. And so when you say things like "That is a racist neighborhood", they're going to look at you like you have two heads. Because they genuinely aren't concerned about keeping wealthy POC out, and thus genuinely aren't prejudiced against all POC, just the poor ones. And to be fair, they're largely concerned about all people who are visibly poor, who wear the clothing coded as poor, talk the language of the poor, or raise their children as the poor.

When people say they want "good schools", they don't mean "schools without black and Hispanic children in them." They mean that they want schools where the vast, overwhelming majority of the children come from middle-class homes, where the kids get enough to eat and have enough sleep and don't have major emotional disturbances or upheaval at home - where kids don't generally present with trauma and the behavioral difficulties that come with trauma. They want schools where the majority of children are well and neatly dressed. They want schools where the language spoken by the overwhelming majority of children is educated English. They want schools where the other parents set up playdates rather than just let kids hang out afterschool however they want (possibly doing something dangerous! who knows!). They want schools where the other children are not influenced by poverty and jealousy into theft, where if a kid wants a new iPod they will just ask their parents to buy it rather than swiping their friend's. They want a place where the founding is abundant and doesn't have to be spent on remedial classes or heavy guidance loads - where it can be spent on art and dance and robotics classes and field trips and other "enrichment."

Now here's where the racism comes in: none of those things necessarily point to "not POC." As people above point out, there are people who are wealthy and POC, who are stable and POC, who even have generational wealth and are POC. But because of a legacy of racism and slavery, the vast majority of POC do not have the kind of wealth that leads to that kind of stability. So if you have a majority-black or majority-Hispanic area, it is likely to have a large portion of people either in poverty or struggling in some way. It won't have "good schools." And so if you're a parent who is interested in putting their kid in "good schools" - schools that will likely reinforce and continue your child's class status - majority-minority neighborhoods and schools are not going to do that.

And there's few really good solutions for that that I see. Attempts to bring up the quality of majority-minority schools often fail - sometimes especially with teacher evaluations, as people would much rather be evaluated on how well they taught children without learning barriers than children with. They also fail because what it would take to create a comparable level isn't just a good school - it would have to be enormous community resourcing, which would take an enormous amount of money.

drlilith
, family capital really has to be seen as different than income. For example: right now, I'm looking to buy a house for my family. We have the income to do it. We have over what they recommend for the house we want. But my earlier poverty has left me with a legacy of poor credit that makes it really hard for me to find a loan. Meanwhile, I rent. Every year I rent, I am losing money and potential equity that I could be earning.

I could make up for it with a large enough down payment - if the family I came from had money. It does not. My family does not have enough money to give me a large down payment to ease my transition into home ownership. And so the friends I have, who come from white middle class families, own houses or have significant resources, because their parents helped them in ways I couldn't - even when I make more money than those friends. That is where family capital comes into play.
posted by corb at 11:25 AM on January 8, 2016 [50 favorites]


Although on average African American households earn less than white households, the majority still fall in the middle class or higher range

I'm going to point out that he rightly distinguishes between income and wealth/capital and, in measures of capital, almost none is pretty accurate. Essentially (not a demographer), almost all rich black people just got that way.
posted by Octaviuz at 11:26 AM on January 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


Relocating from Houston, we had three weeks to pick a place to live in the Chicago area and no idea what we were doing.

Social, economic and political forces too big for us to recognize processed our identity and nudged us toward the place we belonged: Elmhurst.


Oh for pete's sake, this is infuriatingly passive. With three weeks to relocate, it makes sense to acquiesce to your realtor and let them place you in the neighborhood that seems to be the simplest fit in order to get a roof over your head, but "forces too big" didn't make them BUY a house there.
posted by desuetude at 11:32 AM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


Although on average African American households earn less than white households, the majority still fall in the middle class or higher range.

You're talking about income, he's talking about capital: In absolute terms, the median white household had $111,146 in wealth holdings in 2011, compared to $7,113 for the median black household and $8,348 for the median Latino household.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:32 AM on January 8, 2016 [18 favorites]


I was struck by/made uncomfortable with the equating of minority = poor/non-middle class here in a way that I think merits discussion

There's a racist assumption throughout the whole piece that black families are all poor.

I hear you, but I don’t think it was really that clear, I think he addressed that.
On the other hand, I feel like I read these kind of statements all the time on MF, but I guess they come from a place of love (or pity)? Maybe I’m just imagining it.
posted by bongo_x at 11:32 AM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


When people say they want "good schools", they don't mean "schools without black and Hispanic children in them." They mean that they want schools where the vast, overwhelming majority of the children come from middle-class homes,

Some of them do mean "schools without black and Hispanic children in them." It's fine to discuss class, but don't use it to exclude or minimize racism. Black and Hispanic children are not accidentally disproportionately poor.
posted by maxsparber at 11:33 AM on January 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


The link in the article at "laid out at this link" is a fascinating and hideous explanation of how the system has been rigged against blacks, especially, for many decades, if different ways at different times, and how wealthier white people profited at every turn. (I've spent quite a bit of my morning on this article and the link.)

It should be emphasized that conscious prejudice, not just "the machine" plays quite a strong role in the development of segregated housing, and that it is not only POC that are affected by this.

I grew up in a very wealthy Midwestern suburb with one of the largest Jewish populations in the Midwest. But--at least when I grew up in the 60's--although Jews had come to be accepted to the WASPish Country Club by that point, there were still some leafy lanes where Jews were not allowed to buy homes because of the prejudices of individuals in charge who could and could not buy homes on these lanes.
posted by kozad at 11:33 AM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I could make up for it with a large enough down payment - if the family I came from had money. It does not. My family does not have enough money to give me a large down payment to ease my transition into home ownership.

That's a large part of the systematic advantage that the author is talking about. The hereditary upper class are not similar to the self-made rich at the time when they choose where to live, in their early thirties mostly. The upper class have lower incomes at that time in their lives too typically. What they do have is access to cheap capital. They don't have to go to a bank. They don't have to worry about credit scores. It's not talked about, because one doesn't talk about family money.

Young adults from the upper class are much less likely to fail in the ways that a strict middle-class hard-scrabble population all too possibly can. The family safety net won't allow them to.
posted by bonehead at 11:35 AM on January 8, 2016 [11 favorites]


So after skimming the blog, does anyone know of a post where goplifer explains why "leaving isn't exactly an option"? Given his apparent convictions, why isn't he a Democrat, or at least an independent? I mean my quick skim suggested he's more or less a Burkean conservative and wishes for a guaranteed minimum income in favor of the existing social safety net. Is it just that he sees the Democrats as overly technocratic? I mean wanting to reform the GOP from within is fine I guess but the reality and his policy preferences seem to have been diverging at least since the 1970s.
posted by Wretch729 at 11:37 AM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Access to educations, of course is equally important. The children of the rich never worry about going to the right schools or the universities they need to make connections or getting the interships to get access to the plum jobs.
posted by bonehead at 11:39 AM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


"How many young minority families started their lives with the kind of family capital enjoyed by white peers, even their “middle class” white peers? Virtually none.

I come from one of those families. Not as rare as one would think. One of the things he misses is that living in a place like Elmhurst is not desirable for most of us, even when affordable. Giving up the diversity to get the other things isn't an advantage.

There's no guarantee that being able to afford entrance into these communities, means the neighbors are going to accept you as equals. But that is not the case. My parents specifically made the choice not to move our family to a more affluent, whiter neighborhood, even though they could afford it. The used the money that could have gone to that move to send us to better schools, but they still wanted us to come home to a place that valued and nurtured us. They wanted us close to family. They wanted us to be examples to others in our community that didn't have the advantages we did. And in exchange, they had to worry more about our safety, and work harder to find us opportunities to get ahead.

The message from them always was "why move to a better community, when you can make your community better?"
posted by billyfleetwood at 11:41 AM on January 8, 2016 [25 favorites]


The article really correctly points out that the type of neighborhoods he's talking about don't have a problem (at least, currently) with wealthy minorities, or even upper-middle-class ones.

In the San Fernando Valley (L.A.) suburb I grew up in (in the 60s-70s), they didn't have a problem with upper-middle-class minorities. There was only one, a Japanese family, until in the mid-70s, a black family with a single mother moved into the largest house on the block... but then it was the ex-wife of a very successful soul music star.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:42 AM on January 8, 2016


> Ask yourself this simple question: Look down the street you live on, the building you live in, the two blocks in all the directions around you...how many non-whites live in those areas?

About 1/4. Why?
posted by desuetude at 11:45 AM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Some of them do mean "schools without black and Hispanic children in them." It's fine to discuss class, but don't use it to exclude or minimize racism. Black and Hispanic children are not accidentally disproportionately poor.

I'm sorry - what I meant to say was "people who I can sympathize with, who I think are the majority of people currently making these choices." Of course, there no doubt are actual racists who are like "I don't want my child going to school with THOSE people", but I can safely hate those people in peace, and no policy I can think of is going to make them better human beings.

You're right that black and hispanic children are not accidentally disproportionately poor - but I think a majority of it comes from forces that have been building over a long time, not so much 'forces that have been going on in the last five years'. So more the impact of historical racism - structural racism - than individual racism.

of course I could be wrong and just need to despair for the human race more.
posted by corb at 11:47 AM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


ndg: "I've always wondered why anyone would live in Elmhurst. There are much nicer places in Chicagoland from which to enjoy the spoils of institutionalized racism. "

Hahahaha, Chicago snobs unite, that was 100% my reaction. "You went looking for a safe white enclave with good schools and you picked ELMHURST?"

But suburb-mocking aside, it was interesting. We're in the phase of life where a lot of our die-hard liberal friends are moving out to the suburbs and it always feels like a personal betrayal (we don't take it nearly so hard when our conservative friends do it, but they also mostly haven't spent 15 years talking about the importance of urban schools and diversity). And they justify it by saying, "We want good schools for our kids." As if involving your children allows you to turn off the ethical beliefs about equality and diversity you've espoused your whole life. "My ethics are really important to me! Unless it comes to my children, in which case I will cut you if you get in my way of my Ayn Rand, survival-of-the-fittest, winner-take-all attempts to buy my child into the upper middle class."

They say, "Education is really important to us." I don't doubt it, but I'm not sure the lesson you're teaching your kids is the one you want them to be learning.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:54 AM on January 8, 2016 [26 favorites]


I'm reminded of this excellent project, Parable of the Polygons. Basically, what the diagrams show is: if you're not comfortable with being in a crowd where more than half, or more than 75% of the people don't look like you, the society you're in will not be diverse.

In other words, a personal stance that generates social diversity isn't about "I definitely have some non-white friends", it's "I'm used to being in crowds that mostly aren't like me".

If you live in an area that's not racially/socially diverse, don't patronize a diverse set of businesses (diverse racially/economically), then you're actively contributing towards a kind of segregation, albeit at a tiny level. This does not mean that "you are racist". It does however mean that, if everyone lived the same way you did, society would be segregated. Take from that what you will.
posted by suedehead at 12:14 PM on January 8, 2016 [14 favorites]


We wanted to live in a safe, affordable, diverse neighborhood close to the city, featuring great public schools and first class infrastructure. In other words a fantasy town conjured from the imaginations of idealistic young idiots."

I wonder if the dynamic is different in a place where there haven't been decades/centuries of racism-centered infrastructure.

I live in a part of South Florida that was farmland or Everglades until about 1990, and is now on the outer edge of rapidly growing suburbs. My middle-class subdivision is very integrated (I don't know actual statistics about my neighbors, but around half the people I see when I walk down the street are black.) The public schools that kids from here attend are about 40 percent white, 25 percent Hispanic, 25 percent black, 10 percent "other". Half the kids who attend are eligible for free or reduced lunch. As far as I can tell (as a privileged white person) people seem to get along pretty well. But there are no neighborhoods going back to 1900 or even 1980 - everybody who lives here is from "somewhere else". Of course it's easy to find all-white enclaves in the area, and the whiteness probably increases proportionally with the housing prices, but at least here "pretty nice middle-class neighborhood" is not synonymous with "all white".
posted by Daily Alice at 12:19 PM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


They say, "Education is really important to us."

And then they cock an eyebrow, and the Honky Laser Rays coming out of their eyes say, "...which is the big difference with them."
posted by Rat Spatula at 12:20 PM on January 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


We're in the phase of life where a lot of our die-hard liberal friends are moving out to the suburbs..."We want good schools for our kids…I don't doubt it, but I'm not sure the lesson you're teaching your kids is the one you want them to be learning."

Amen.

This guy seems to be doing that, but seems incredibly self aware for someone with the name GOPLifer (I’m still trying to process the disconnect, maybe my bias? Maybe it stands for Game of Pwns?) and from Texas! (my bias is huge).

One of the great things about the internet is that you get to be taught from the the vast treasure trove of wisdom on how to think about race by people who live, and in many cases have purposefully moved to, the whitest cities in America. I once saw Sherman Alexie speak in Seattle. He made some remark and then followed it with something like (and I'm butchering this here) "But not you people, I know you’re all good Liberals. Which has got to be tough in one of the Whitest, richest cities in the country."
posted by bongo_x at 12:21 PM on January 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


And so if you're a parent who is interested in putting their kid in "good schools" - schools that will likely reinforce and continue your child's class status - majority-minority neighborhoods and schools are not going to do that.

Worth noting (and I am sure you're aware of this, corb) that this is true only with certain minorities. My kids attend a majority-minority school in a borough of NYC where Asian students are around 60% of the population and Caucasians less than 30%. When we spoke with a real estate agent about the area a few years ago, she explicitly emphasized that as a selling point. Repeatedly.
posted by zarq at 12:22 PM on January 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


"My ethics are really important to me! Unless it comes to my children, in which case I will cut you if you get in my way of my Ayn Rand, survival-of-the-fittest, winner-take-all attempts to buy my child into the upper middle class."

It's not at all clear to me that the "ethical" thing to do here is to sacrifice the education of your own children so that you can be a part of a tax base and PTO which might, possibly, make some tiny difference in the future of some other children (who are currently strangers to you).

Yes, from a purely utilitarian point of view, you shouldn't be biased in favor of your own family. But, I mean, have you donated a kidney? You can live without one of your kidneys, but I guarantee there's a stranger out there who cannot live without it. You haven't? But I bet you would if your mother/brother/daughter needed one. So you, too, favor your own family over strangers?

Most ethical systems leave room for a special duty to friends and family. For investing more resources in your kids than you do in your neighbors' kids.

(I do think as a matter of policy, though, we should stop tying school funding to property taxes so tightly. That doesn't require anyone to choose to deliberately sacrifice the futures of their own personal children.)
posted by OnceUponATime at 12:22 PM on January 8, 2016 [7 favorites]


Elmhurst is where all the first wives and kids move to after the divorce. Naperville is nice, he would've liked Naperville. It isn't Katy. Being a Republican in the Chicago area, in Cook County, is like being a fire-breathing radical anarchist. I admire them. Race, race awareness, is in every aspect of life in Chicago, from cradle to grave. It's an elemental force, like gravity. You don't say "Let's eliminate gravity from dominating our lives, our being". You don't say "In an ideal world, we'd all be gravity-blind". I've lived pretty much my entire life in Chicago, the city. I've lived in all white neighborhoods, in all black neighborhoods, and currently in an almost evenly mixed neighborhood. My current thinking is, we'll never get out of this mess.
posted by Chitownfats at 12:27 PM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's not at all clear to me that the "ethical" thing to do here is to sacrifice the education of your own children

You're not sacrificing anything by choosing to not make "Schools!!!! For Mah Kids!!!" your battlecry when locating (or re-locating) your family.

Unless you are at the extreme end of the spectrum where there are real safety concerns then the educational impact of getting your child into a better/more private school is dwarfed by you (and, if applicable, your partner's) SES. My wife's phd and focus on child development with a strong research base tells me so and I believe it.

I really hesitate to compare the choice of one school over another school to a particular chicken biscuit conundrum taste differential* comparison that I made in the past but it really keeps coming to mind and, fraught as all comparisons and this one in particular are, I can't help but think it somewhat valid here.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:39 PM on January 8, 2016 [7 favorites]


Regarding capital and race.

I mean, it's true. I have a decently well-paying job, but I've just had to push back buying a place on the horizon because, well. Fam needs some help. And I think that's what the author was trying to get at.

Elmhurst and its kind will not be in the cards for me. I mean, I'm okay with that, because I cannot imagine ever returning to the waking death that is suburbanite living, but it was never even an option.
posted by qcubed at 12:39 PM on January 8, 2016 [7 favorites]


I do think as a matter of policy, though, we should stop tying school funding to property taxes so tightly.
I'm right with you...

That doesn't require anyone to choose to deliberately sacrifice the futures of their own personal children.
...but I double-dog-dare you to say that out loud in front of nice white liberal parents.
posted by Rat Spatula at 12:39 PM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Worth noting (and I am sure you're aware of this, corb) that this is true only with certain minorities. My kids attend a majority-minority school in a borough of NYC where Asian students are around 60% of the population and Caucasians less than 30%. When we spoke with a real estate agent about the area a few years ago, she explicitly emphasized that as a selling point. Repeatedly.
posted by zarq at 3:22 PM on January 8 [+] [!]


That's like my neighborhood in Fairfax County, VA. There are two and a half white kids in my son's fifth grade glass. (He's the half.) The rest are East Asian or South Asian. And a lot of the parents politically conservative. They'd vote for Rubio, but never Trump.

I hope this GOPLifer can drag his party back to reality. I'd like to have a choice of parties to vote for. Voting for mediocrity over batshit insanity ain't no choice at all.
posted by Loudmax at 12:42 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ask yourself this simple question: Look down the street you live on, the building you live in, the two blocks in all the directions around you...how many non-whites live in those areas?

Given the homogeneous nature of Canadian cities that aren't Montreal/Toronto/Vancouver etc, none that I can think of offhand. There is only one non-white family I can think of in our new neighbourhood--a really nice Asian couple I'd peg in their late 20s/early 30s with three adorable kids--but I must admit I don't know. Given the racial make-up of Kingston, the neighbourhood we moved to that is slowly gentrifying is displacing lots of poor white people, pushing them from the downtown areas further towards the 401. There seems to be a significant South Asian population here, but I'm guessing they live around downtown area, or the suburbs. But again, I don't know. Coming from the South, it consistently remains weird to me to see more white people than POC.
posted by Kitteh at 12:46 PM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Unless you are at the extreme end of the spectrum where there are real safety concerns then the educational impact of getting your child into a better/more private school is dwarfed by you (and, if applicable, your partner's) SES.

I refuse to just fall on my sword and die because I come from poverty. That kind of "well your own SES is all that matters" is all well and good for those who come from a long line of success. For those of us who are trying to claw our way out, it really does matter what we do.
posted by corb at 12:46 PM on January 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee: We're in the phase of life where a lot of our die-hard liberal friends are moving out to the suburbs and it always feels like a personal betrayal (we don't take it nearly so hard when our conservative friends do it, but they also mostly haven't spent 15 years talking about the importance of urban schools and diversity). And they justify it by saying, "We want good schools for our kids."

Oh yes, very much this. So many of my left-leaning friends become absolutely hard-core not-whatever-they-claimed-to-espouse when it comes time to put pen to paper and sign for a mortgage or a long-term lease or something like that. One of my associates—I hesitate to call a lot of the people I know full-fledged "friends"—put it bluntly to me as, "man, it's just so much easier. I don't have to fight the city to get the trash picked up and the junkies run out from the park. I don't have to wonder if the teachers are going to walk out over pay. I can have a fence that doesn't get tagged by graffiti because the kids have actual stuff to do here and they know that the cops do nightly patrols. The HOA keeps people from having junk in their yards and the neighbors wouldn't stand for it anyway. I didn't realize how much daily arguing I had to do."

I disagreed with him rather vehemently but there's at least one point of view.
posted by fireoyster at 12:49 PM on January 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


impact of getting your child into a better/more private school is dwarfed by you (and, if applicable, your partner's) SES

But if that's true, then an affluent white family moving to an underfunded school district to make the schools there better by contributing to the tax base and being an involved parent... Also won't help the children in that district, because making schools better doesn't help if you don't raise the SES of the students? I dunno...

But okay, how about this... Better schools are a valuable thing in and of themselves, not just as a means to the end of better economic futures. They're just a hell of a lot more pleasant to be in, day to day.

If we agree on that, we don't have to figure out whether and to what extent a "good" school sets a kid up for a good future. It certainly allows them to have a much better present. Which leaves us with the same dilemma -- do you want to put your own kids in a miserable, depressing place, in hopes that their/your presence will make it less marginally miserable and depressing for the other kids? How would you feel if your parents did that to you, in the service of their ideals?
posted by OnceUponATime at 12:49 PM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


"It's not at all clear to me that the "ethical" thing to do here is to sacrifice the education of your own children so that you can be a part of a tax base and PTO which might, possibly, make some tiny difference in the future of some other children (who are currently strangers to you)."

Yes, as a couple other people noted, you're making a factual error; typically a middle-class-or-above family DOES NOT sacrifice their child's education by attending a lower-performing school. The child will still reach the same educational attainment (and, for that matter, may have an advantage applying to top-tier colleges as one of the handful of kids applying from an urban high school vs. 500 cookie-cutter kids from the suburban high school a few miles over). Moreover, we know that middle-class parents committing to stay in low-performing schools makes a VERY LARGE difference in the future of poor children. Possibly more than any other action you can take.

Finally, and this isn't so much the case in the Chicago area where suburban high schools are ginormous (technical term), but in other places -- like downstate where I am -- choosing a suburban high school means you have a much whiter, richer student body, but less access to AP classes, fewer extracurricular options, etc., because the high schools are too small to support very many. Whereas the urban schools, simply because they are larger, have a broader array of academic and extracurricular opportunities, even though they are much lower-performing schools than the suburban ones. The big suburb all my friends keep moving to, they offer like 10 AP classes; my urban district offers the full slate of all of them (although a few are only every-other-year).
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:55 PM on January 8, 2016 [12 favorites]


"do you want to put your own kids in a miserable, depressing place, in hopes that their/your presence will make it less marginally miserable and depressing for the other kids?"

I find my child's 93%-poverty-rate-school neither miserable nor depressing. In fact it is a bright, cheerful community center that serves an economically struggling but culturally vibrant neighborhood, and provides a haven for many children with a lot of shit going on in their lives. My child is happy and is achieving; he is in first grade and doing work at a fourth-grade level right now, and working with some of the best educators in the district.

You seem to have a lot of misconceptions about high-poverty schools that I suspect are borne of not having a lot of experience with them. These are stereotypes and talking points, not the realities of these actual schools. Does our school have problems? Yes. Does it need more funding? Yes. But "miserable and depressing"? Not by a long shot.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:01 PM on January 8, 2016 [23 favorites]


Look down the street you live on, the building you live in, the two blocks in all the directions around you...how many non-whites live in those areas?

I live in an apartment building with 8 other units. When I moved in, one was occupied by a black woman, one by a black man, one by an Asian couple, one by a black/white couple, one by a white couple, one by a Latina, and one by a white guy. So out of 11 people, including me, 6 were POC. But my neighborhood is unusually integrated for Milwaukee, the most segregated metro area in the country. I've also lived in Montana, in a town that was 95% white, 4% Native American, and 1% other. I don't remember ever meeting a Latinx person in 4 years. It was really disorienting.
posted by desjardins at 1:04 PM on January 8, 2016


But Eyebrows McGee, do you deny that there are miserable and depressing schools? I mean, how can you? And surely those are the ones most in need of people with resources moving to them?

I know this is a very personal issue for you. I am not questioning your personal choices, and I do admire the work you've written about here to make your schools better. I just don't like the implication that it's not okay to care more about your own children than the children of strangers. You have found a way to do both, but that doesn't change the principle about what choices are okay if you do have to choose.
posted by OnceUponATime at 1:05 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


You seem to have a lot of misconceptions about high-poverty schools that I suspect are borne of not having a lot of experience with them. These are stereotypes and talking points, not the realities of these actual schools.

Eyebrows, having attended high poverty schools for most of my life, I have to say that the "bright cheerful community center" is very much not what I experienced, and seems as close to reality to me as a fucking unicorn. I mean, I really hope your children are going to a unicorn school! That's awesome! I hope more kids do! But this "no man high poverty schools are actually great places" is kind of offensive and feels like you're trying to rewrite my own and other people's experiences so you can sucker more rich white liberals into sending their kids to public schools.

Now I'll grant - I grew up with the most segregated schools in the country (NYC in the 80s), and maybe it's not as bad other places. But mine were unabashedly shitholes, where almost everyone was failing, people were routinely beaten badly in the schoolyard or in the halls, and the only extracurricular option was like, Latchkey, where you sit in a cafeteria in silence waiting for your parents to come get you.
posted by corb at 1:14 PM on January 8, 2016 [11 favorites]


Cut off funding for schools in minority areas, complain about how shitty schools are there, move to area with better schools because education is important. Totally not racist. Repeat for all public services. "Why do those people live in such a shitty area?"
posted by bongo_x at 1:14 PM on January 8, 2016 [7 favorites]


Wow, this feels like a thread for white people and I feel like as a minority I should sit and be quiet and learn or something.

I guess that's what comments like this are explaining:
tl;dr Yes, he's being gentle to white racists. That's because he's trying to convince white racists.

Also this:
Ask yourself this simple question: Look down the street you live on, the building you live in, the two blocks in all the directions around you...how many non-whites live in those areas?

Can we just add "if you're white" to stuff like that, so we can even pretend that we're not assuming a default.

Also, I have a rule of thumb that if anyone writes about race and starts talking about colors that we don't recognize at all as racial groups, like purple, that person is not very invested in the race discussion, especially if they're white.

Because people are not purple, and that's important because white and black isn't the same thing, and black and brown isn't the same thing, and the minority experience is not the same thing.

And his gross comments about not needing security. Yuck. Yuck to this.

I can understand why some people in this thread think this is great because those other white people, would never read Coates so they need this kind of thing to help them understand institutional racism.

But the message should just be, read Coates, even if you're racist, even if you live in a super safe white suburb and only see black people on TV, just read Coates.
posted by sweetkid at 1:14 PM on January 8, 2016 [30 favorites]


Just to make it clear, I personally do not want to cut off funding for schools in minority areas. I would like to see in increased, and would be willing to pay more in taxes to make that happen. Also not trying to imply that it is okay not to care at all about the children of strangers. That is not okay.
posted by OnceUponATime at 1:15 PM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's so interesting; the author accurately observes on all the problems with liberalism as a doctrine, identifies that they personally benefit from the problems of liberalism, and remains resolutely liberal, largely because they personally benefit from the rigged system.

I don't care a bit about where this guy lives. It makes me soul sick, though, seeing someone identify the workings of white supremacist practice and consciously decide that they're okay with white supremacist practice because they benefit from white supremacist practice, instead of trying to figure out ways to commit treason against white supremacy — and, no, choosing to live in a non-segregated neighborhood is not by itself anything like a meaningful form of treason against white supremacy.

The underlying message of this piece is that the market is white supremacist (duh), that the market rules America (duh), and that this is all okay because the market is good (utter lunacy).

By the power vested in me by the revolutionary government that will never exist anywhere but in my own sorry head, I sentence the author of this article to listen to Phil Ochs' "love me I'm a liberal" for six hours straight.

[standard boilerplate: the central doctrine of liberalism is that abstract formal equality within the market is sufficient to achieve freedom for all people. Anyone who isn't relatively wealthy can immediately see the problem with this — the wealthy can and do use their superior material position to undermine any abstract benefits we could hypothetically receive from our abstract hypothetical equality before the market. This is why socialist ideas and fascist ideas are both more popular among the general public than liberal ideas, even though our media and political institutions are dominated by liberals.]
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:16 PM on January 8, 2016 [7 favorites]


Ugh, I'd like to apologize for my anger, Eyebrows McGee, because I think you're coming from a good place and really believe in making things better. But this kind of thing just pushes all my buttons, it's like people who say "well we gave these poor schools a poetry program, or an art class, so it erases all the soul-crushing horror of the place."
posted by corb at 1:19 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


"But Eyebrows McGee, do you deny that there are miserable and depressing school districts?"

"But this "no man high poverty schools are actually great places" is kind of offensive and feels like you're trying to rewrite my own and other people's experiences so you can sucker more rich white liberals into sending their kids to public schools. "


Look, the comments I was responding to claimed that a) middle-class white kids are better off in higher-performing schools, which is empirically untrue (it makes no statistical difference); b) that sending middle-class kids to low-performing schools doesn't help strangers' children, which is also empirically untrue; and c) that better-forming academic schools are "better environments" for children which may SOMETIMES be true, but there are also a lot of cinderblock palaces from 1960 in postwar suburbs that are depressingly shitty hellholes, and there are plenty of high-poverty schools (and high-ish poverty schools, because let's be clear, a lot of these parents moving to the burbs are fleeing schools with 20% poverty IF THAT) that are wonderful.

Yes, I use my own child's school as an example. The sad part is, 95% of his classmates aren't performing at grade level, and the beauty and atmosphere and academic opportunities of the school can do very little to countervail against the grinding poverty of the neighborhood.

And no, I never believe a claim that such-and-such high-poverty school is a "bad environment" until I physically go to the school and visit it, talk to the staff, and comb through the numbers to see why the school is failing academically. Because in my rather wide experience of high-poverty schools, people making these claims have never bothered to find out and are simply reacting to the poverty (and often the racial makeup) of the school in question.

I mean, we're talking about people moving to white-enclave suburbs "for the schools," who are implicitly and explicitly making exactly these assumptions: That low-performing schools are bad for middle-class children (they're not); That keeping middle-class children in low-performing schools doesn't help poor children (it does); That suburban schools are academically superior for a given student (unsupported); That urban schools are "miserable and depression" (have you visited it?); That there are "more opportunities" at suburban schools (largely an effect of size, which varies by region). These are, I firmly believe, by and large excuses for the underlying reason, which is, "I am not comfortable having my child in an economically diverse environment and I am not willing to critically examine why I have absorbed the beliefs that economic diversity is physically, mentally, and emotionally dangerous to my child."

Of course there are shitty urban public schools, which is why I spent the last several years of my life on exactly that issue. But I also know, from that same experience, that most white parents moving to the suburbs to escape the urban public schools have no clue what they are talking about.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:26 PM on January 8, 2016 [13 favorites]


Cut off funding for schools in minority areas, complain about how shitty schools are there, move to area with better schools because education is important. Totally not racist. Repeat for all public services. "Why do those people live in such a shitty area?"

Also, all the other shit those white people are saying about moving to the burbs for schools and what not.

Previously.
posted by qcubed at 1:31 PM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


"I am not comfortable having my child in an economically diverse environment and I am not willing to critically examine why I have absorbed the beliefs that economic diversity is physically, mentally, and emotionally dangerous to my child."

...and the result is "Did you see that one dad who always drives the old truck?"

I am not that dad, I'm a different dad, but some mom in our neighborhood with a pixie cut and boxy glasses and a hybrid car and a tendency to embarrassingly over-pronounce Spanish words and endless monologues about maker spaces seriously would not shut up about the guy in the plaid shirt and work pants and pickup who confusingly was not a groundskeeper but was in fact there to pick his son up from school. She's just not sure he's well-served by the excellent schools in our area; isn't he uncomfortable in this milieu?

fucking NOW HE IS, MA'AM
posted by Rat Spatula at 1:44 PM on January 8, 2016 [24 favorites]


Eyebrows said all the things I would have wanted to say if I were more eloquent and not too busy heading out to pick up my daughter from her, so far because we have only been there a week or so, wonderful daycare where she gets to see and mingle with kids of all colors and backgrounds, as opposed to her previous location that was whiter than a bleached polar bear hide.

We didn't change locales due to those differences, but we damn sure didn't shy away from the new place when it seemed like a better functional option either.
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:00 PM on January 8, 2016


people making these claims have never bothered to find out and are simply reacting to the poverty (and often the racial makeup) of the school in question.

I know someone, Sparky, who as part of a large retail chain was part of a group putting in a big shopping center in the poor, mostly minority part of another U.S. city. It seemed like a great idea because there was very little to serve that area, certainly nothing like this.

There were people in high positions in big companies, most from other states, that objected to even having meetings about the proposal out of fear of having to traverse that dangerous area. Surely this project was foolish, it will be straight out of Mad Max, it’s too dangerous to even meet up there! So they'd heard anyway. It got to the point where Sparky actually had to get with the local PD to pull up statistics and shit to send to everyone showing the crime rate was the same as the rest of the city, and lower than many parts that were considered OK.

The place was built, is packed, one of the least problematic branches in the whole chain.

There are shitty areas. That’s not the point. It’s one thing to have a personal unconscious bias about where you do your shopping, but when you’re making major life decisions, or major business decisions, based on specific data points and you don’t even bother to find out if those things are true? You have to wonder if it’s because you don’t want to know the answer.
posted by bongo_x at 2:09 PM on January 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


Eyebrows -- The logical conclusion from your points a) and b) is that good schools help poor kids but they don't help middle class kids. Okay, I'll accept that. (Though what if someone is a precarious member of the middle class? How secure does your SES have to be to ensure that your kid will be immune to whatever it is about the "bad" school you're trying to help, that is hurting the other kids?)

The point I'm making is, it's one thing to say you believe in social justice and put your money and time where your mouth is, to donate to charity and lobby for tax increases on yourself... Yes! Please do! It's another thing to pay, or even gamble, with your kids' well-being, or demand that other people do so.

I am not saying this is what you have done! I believe that you personally have done the research and put in the hours and have found a school, where you can benefit others at minimal cost to your own kids! And that you are in a position where that is not a gamble at all. Maybe you're right, and it's only my ignorance that makes me think finding such a school and establishing that confidence is at all a difficult thing.

But it doesn't really matter to my main point, which is just that it's not okay to demand that other people sacrifice their children's well-being. The comment about "espousing beliefs about equality and diversity" vs. "attempts to buy my child into the upper middle class"? I guess I took it as saying that "If you really believe in equality and diversity, you must not try to give your child any special advantages to ensure they make it into the middle class." That just really rubbed me the wrong way. I don't think "ethics" demands that.
posted by OnceUponATime at 2:16 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ask yourself this simple question: Look down the street you live on, the building you live in, the two blocks in all the directions around you...how many non-whites live in those areas?

I'm actually the only white person in my building, and my zip in general is only 25 percent non-Hispanic white. But part of that is that I moved into a very inexpensive area and stayed there even as my income went up.
posted by tavella at 2:17 PM on January 8, 2016


my main point, which is just that it's not okay to demand that other people sacrifice their children's well-being

That's a nice strawman you've got there. Glad you brought it to the party.
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:19 PM on January 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


Sorry, my born-and-bred Southsider Chicago self needs to mention two things:

- What clipped accent? I grew up in Canaryville across from Halsted which divided Back of the Yards and Canaryville. At best the accent is standard Chicago.

- Elmhurst is a suburb. Back of the Yards, in Chicago proper, is a neighborhood. That he has lived this long in Chicago but does mention Chicagoans correcting him on this makes me question this whole thing.

I've always wondered why anyone would live in Elmhurst. There are much nicer places in Chicagoland from which to enjoy the spoils of institutionalized racism.

Right? Wheaton and Downer's Grove are right there. The aforementioned Naperville would have achieved the same and has a nice downtown area.

Ask yourself this simple question: Look down the street you live on, the building you live in, the two blocks in all the directions around you...how many non-whites live in those areas?

Live right on the border of Mt Prospect/Des Plaines, IL now (due to my entire freaking industry being located around O'Hare) after spending my 20's near Midway Airport. I'm gonna say those suburbs are both white af but my apartment complex is mostly South Asian and I have been told I live near the Latino Des Plaines. Judging by the churches and restaurants, I will also say there's a thriving Bulgarian and East Asian community here. Canarville and West Lawn, once white enclaves for the Irish and Eastern Europeans immigrants respectively, now have large Latino populations.

We're in the phase of life where a lot of our die-hard liberal friends are moving out to the suburbs and it always feels like a personal betrayal (we don't take it nearly so hard when our conservative friends do it, but they also mostly haven't spent 15 years talking about the importance of urban schools and diversity). And they justify it by saying, "We want good schools for our kids."

Plenty of Chicagoans used to get around this by sending their kids to Catholic schools, when Chicago had more of them. Others just move to the white enclaves like Norwood Park on the Northside or Mt Greenwood on the Southside. Every wonder why every white Chicago cop seems to live in one of three neighborhoods in Chicago? That's why.
posted by bgal81 at 2:23 PM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


"not okay to demand that other people sacrifice their children's well-being". That's a nice strawman you've got there. Glad you brought it to the party.

If you're saying nobody is arguing that, then great. All I want is for no one to argue that. But people do sometimes conflate "wanting the best for your kids" with "being selfish."
posted by OnceUponATime at 2:24 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]




people do sometimes conflate "wanting the best for your kids" with "being selfish."

Can you explain how these are different things, particularly vis a vis education?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:28 PM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


That's a nice strawman you've got there. Glad you brought it to the party.

Gang violence in schools is more than just strawman argument in Chicago. Those who can move out, do, those who can't just do their best to keep the remaining Catholic schools in Chicago afloat hoping the steep tuition is enough.

The elementary school I went to has had it's tuition increase 500% to $5000 dollars a year for K-8 but its enrollment only dropped by a third. This is in a neighborhood that was and remains working-class at best.
posted by bgal81 at 2:33 PM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Wanting the best for your kids is not the same as wanting the best for yourself because your kids are not you. But they're people you created (or made a lifetime comitment to), that are wholly dependent on you, and who are bonded to you by love and loyalty. Sacrificing your own happiness for the happiness of others -- yes, all ethical systems demand that we do that (to some extent). Sacrificing your child's happiness for the happiness of others... Again, how betrayed would you feel, if you knew your parents had done that, to any significant extent?

They are different things.
posted by OnceUponATime at 2:33 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Sacrificing your child's happiness for the happiness of others.

But again, outside the extreme end of the spectrum (active gang warzone or schools that are toxic for real, not just monetary, type issues), there is actual science data stuffs that says this isn't happening if you are, for your own reasons, equating present and hypothetical future child happiness to said child being in 'best school'.

Not to mention that I think that equating those things can actually be an injustice to said child. That is to say that creating an isolationist bubble, more or less via finagling what fiscal leverage you can to get a richer school assignment, where your kid, either purposefully or incidentally, does not get to meet and befriend other children of different backgrounds and skin colors is kinda fucking them over in various and sundry ways since, for most normal folks anyways, one day that bubble is going to pop and then those kids are going to see a whole lot of folks they aren't able to relate to or be comfortable interacting with.
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:49 PM on January 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


I don't disagree with any of that RolandOfEld.

You're right that I implied "bad" schools (in a test-scores and textbooks sense) were necessarily "bad" for middle class children (in a present-day happiness and future economic prospects sense) in my first comment, and I accept rebuke. I accept that it's not true. But really and truly, that wasn't the main point I was trying to argue.
posted by OnceUponATime at 2:53 PM on January 8, 2016


Cool, yea I'll bow out anyway but thanks for clearing that up.

It's just sad for me, and apparently for others as they have said upthread, to see friends-that-claim-to-be-liberal that have zero hesitation in, again as Eyebrows said it best, going Ayn Rand or what I can only describe as full-on proxy fuck-you-got-mine when it comes to their kids or even their hypothetical unborn kid.
posted by RolandOfEld at 3:02 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


"Sacrificing your child's happiness for the happiness of others... Again, how betrayed would you feel, if you knew your parents had done that, to any significant extent?"

The governor of Illinois falsely registered his daughter as living at an address in Chicago, and then clouted her into the school as a "principal's discretionary admit" or whatever they call it (she otherwise didn't qualify or get the lottery), so that he could get her into Payton Prep, on the grounds that she would get a better education there than at New Trier in Winnetka. In doing so, she took one of the small handful of places intended for highly-qualified CPS students, many of whom are underprivileged.

He has justified this by saying "What parent could argue with doing the best for your child?"

I don't think "doing the best you can for your child" is an easy question or a unidimensional one. My children are privileged merely by the fact that my husband and I are both big-vocabulary lawyer types who never STFU; their spoken language acquisition was leaps and bounds ahead of age-peers because of that. We're not going to Harrison Bergeron them up by sticking earmuffs on them to lower the number of words they hear per day. We transmit our privilege in a thousand ways we're not even aware of, every minute of every day, just by being their parents.

However, when you start talking about public schools, this is not a "victimless" choice. Decisions that you and I make about where to live and where to send our children to school has impacts on other people who do not have the privilege to make that decision. I also do think you handicap your child in really important ways when you transmit to them the message, "It's okay to cheat, or to behave in ways that are unethical, or against our family's values, as long I'm doing it for your benefit." That's a terrible ethical message to give a child, and it's a terrible parenting message (that, in extreme cases, creates tiny little narcissists who demand the moon on a daily basis).

The choice has consequences. If it didn't have consequences you wouldn't have made that choice. These families are specifically opting out of these public schools to buy their way into wealthier school systems. This is not illegal, that is how our system is set up, and it is a shitty system. But I submit that it is not a choice without moral and ethical dimensions, and it is certainly not a choice without consequences. I'm not unfriending my friends who send their kids to the Catholic school near my house (attached to my parish); I'm not holding forth on the immorality of their choices in opting out of the public schools. But this is a thread specifically about opting out of diverse areas "for the schools," and I'm certainly not going to pretend in a thread about this topic that moving to a white-flight suburb "for the schools" is a value-neutral, consequence-free decision! I'm not the boss or judge of your family, possibly you have very good reasons -- one of my siblings just moved to a suburban area where my in-law's family have deep roots and while it's a little eye-rolly to me, there's a lot of complex stuff that went into their choice (including grandparental childcare availability and two-working-parent families and the cost of daycare and so on). There's a lot of complex stuff that goes into any family's choice. But they don't pretend it's a morally-neutral choice w/r/t schools and the city neighborhood they left behind.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:08 PM on January 8, 2016 [20 favorites]


Erik Loomis, Dilapidated Schools and Race - " Residential segregation and educational segregation are tied together and those inequalities last for generations and are repeated in the present."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:13 PM on January 8, 2016


This is a really interesting thread. I'm hesitant to express any opinions about the issue of what kinds of schools are best for kids and that sort of thing, but I see some pretty important and compelling points made by several people here, and I appreciate reading it.

Just before our oldest child entered kindergarten, my wife and I were in the process of moving to a new city for a job I had taken. We had spent a few years living on the southeast side of Capitol Hill in DC and a few years in an urban area in California that had what we understood were pretty cruddy, low-performing schools, and in both areas had spent a lot of time working with and tutoring local middle and high school kids and had friends who were public school teachers in both areas. We were moving to be closer to my job in downtown Los Angeles, and commute distance and where our kids would go to school became the two biggest considerations. One thing we thought important was to raise our kids someplace where their peers would likely be focused on preparing for college and have their sights set on a lifetime of achievement, and where that culture would help reinforce the expectations we hope our kids will have for their own lives.

We saw such despair among teachers and students in the places where we had lived previously - and we had both tutored a number of kids who were in their first year of college, having graduated at the top of their high school classes in DC public schools, and who were totally ill-equipped to handle college, and were distraught and ready to drop out. We were confident that the culture and instruction we would give our own kids as parents and in the home would be critical to the kind of preparation they would need, but we wanted the whole village to be raising them, if that makes sense.

We ended up barely being able to afford to live in an area with extremely well regarded public schools, where very affluent residents contribute both time and money in an effort to make the schools far better than they could be if they just relied on the funding that comes from taxes. It's pretty amazing, and we've been very happy with the schools so far, particularly now that we know our second child has a disability that requires an individualized educational program and we've seen the incredible lengths the school has gone to to accommodate it and give him the best educational experience possible.

We've also been fortunate that the area we ended up in is a lot more racially and ethnically diverse than we initially expected it to be, though it's not economically diverse at all.

When I hear and read people describe having found very economically-poor schools that are nevertheless great schools where their kids have great experiences, excellent education, and are not beset by crime issues and the various other problems we witnessed in the public schools in places we lived, I think the biggest question I have is this: When you're deciding where to live and raise your kids (assuming you have the luxury of making that decision - we were just lucky that I landed just the right job at just the right time), how do you find that amazing, lucky school that is in an economically-poor area but somehow offers your kids the same incredible resources, culture, and education as the one my wife and I are barely scraping by so our kids can attend it in the rich neighborhood?

When I read Eyebrows McGee and others here describe liberal friends who dumped their urban life idealism to flee to the suburbs once their kids hit school age, I think "yep, that's me, right there." And honestly, I don't get how the choice I made for my kids is worthy of the contempt I read in those comments. If the schools where I live are not actually better than the ones down the street, then ok, I would I think I made the wrong choice, since I could be saving a lot of money, living around people I have more in common with, etc. But from everything I've ever seen, these schools are so much better, and my friends and colleagues who live a mile away in L.A. Unified schools and have kids who need IEPs like my kid does are experiencing red tape and frustrations that are totally foreign to what we've experienced with our school administrators.
posted by The World Famous at 3:25 PM on January 8, 2016 [11 favorites]


And honestly, I don't get how the choice I made for my kids is worthy of the contempt I read in those comments.

The contempt should be aimed at the hyper-localized funding model for schools that creates these disparities in funding, and therefore in educational outcomes, not you or anyone else for doing what you think is right for your kids. Given the system we have, it's hard to fault anyone for finding the best possible situation for their family even if they know that they're contributing to the hollowing out of the tax base in the neighborhood they're leaving. Bad systems can't be fixed by appealing to the better angels of our nature.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:47 PM on January 8, 2016 [13 favorites]


MetaFilter: a fantasy town conjured from the imaginations of idealistic young idiots.
posted by furtive at 3:48 PM on January 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


And honestly, I don't get how the choice I made for my kids is worthy of the contempt I read in those comments.

I hope my comments haven’t been taken as contempt, I’m trying to discuss systematic problems and not personal judgements. I have no place judging anyone on how to raise children. I have good friends that have made these same choices and I don’t judge them.

I think the tragedy is that the choices have to be made.
The moral dilemma that is the point of the article.
posted by bongo_x at 4:14 PM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Well, that's the thing. Moving out to the burbs where the schools are better is a perfectly rational choice, and you really should be doing the best you can for your kids and family.

But to pretend that sort of white-or wealth-flight doesn't have knock-on effects to things that perpetuate poverty cycles and help entrench forms of systemic racism, well... That's bullshit.

Look, we all make compromises, and those compromises make us less and less pure. You just have to live with them is all.

Not your fault that the system bends over and fucks minorities. Not your fault your white guilt doesnt really help them. I mean, you gotta do what you gotta do.
posted by qcubed at 4:18 PM on January 8, 2016 [9 favorites]


what I can only describe as full-on proxy fuck-you-got-mine when it comes to their kids

We chose our neighborhood partly on the basis of the schools, and were really conflicted about it because we felt that we weren't living our principles. But we decided that those are our principles, not the kid's. We don't really have to live with the consequences of this decision, he does. And forcing him to make sacrifices so that we feel more righteous doesn't sound very principled to me.

Worth noting also that my first attempt at this response involved more profanity and personal invective than I've written in my entire time on MetaFilter. (Picture several paragraphs elaborating on the theme of, "fuck you and the horse you rode in on.") Needless to say, if you want to absolutely end a conversation (and possibly any personal relationship) with a parent who's dealt with this, this is the right approach.

I mention this just to emphasize that you are not going to budge people one fucking inch with this kind of characterization.

OTOH, pointing out that "bad schools" aren't necessarily worse for educational outcomes is actually quite intriguing and would really make me reconsider our decision. Although I have to ask (semi-rhetorically), if sending a wealthier kid to a "bad school" doesn't change the outcome, why is it a problem for poorer kids to wind up there?
posted by bjrubble at 4:40 PM on January 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


> And his gross comments about not needing security. Yuck. Yuck to this.

Oh gods yes, I meant to comment on that as well, but every time I read it I got angrier until I closed my browser tab. It was reading it in context of the preceding line that tipped me over the edge:
In this neighborhood, our income buys us access to benefits we could not otherwise afford.

We spend practically nothing on security. Our children have access to some of the best educational and social opportunities that exist.
First of all, he makes no sense. You can too afford the benefits you are receiving, your income is buying you access to them. That's the whole freaking point of your article.

Secondly, WTF makes him think that he needs to pay for security--aside from having decent locks on the doors and windows--at all? It's such a weird self-important tic, this pervasive insistence on the need for security systems in upper-middle-class neighborhoods. How does he think crime works? (But hey, here's an idea, if paying heavily for security is necessary when living in a less affluent neighborhood, maybe we could just install ADT on all the houses in poor neighborhoods to prevent crime!)

Thirdly, if by "educational opportunities" he means "higher-performing public schools", I'll not deny him that as a benefit of a more affluent neighborhood. But what pray tell are the "best social opportunities?" I'm having a really difficult time coming up with a charitable reading of that.
posted by desuetude at 4:44 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


For reasons, my siblings went to all fancy private schools, while I went to mostly public schools. I think the actual education was very similar. But they got a lifelong social network of smart confident people, and I got beat up for being a nerd. I am very very sad that we (well, many cities) let our education system deteriorate to this point, but I wouldn't blame anyone for doing what they gotta do, even if they make the problem marginally worse by doing so.
posted by miyabo at 4:48 PM on January 8, 2016 [7 favorites]




In 1974, my parents, both white people who attended segregated schools in the south, chose to move to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, which were being integrated by court-ordered busing. They did this at the same time that plenty of folks were moving away in response to the court order. They chose this over another location where the public schools were 100% black and all the white kids attended the same private school. They chose this because they wanted a better world for their kids and everybody else's kids, too.

My brother and I had generally great experiences in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. We both received excellent educations and had all kinds of friends. He's a computer engineer and I'm a biology professor, so I think it worked out okay for us academically. I am grateful every day that my parents did not make the fashionable choice, or the easy choice, but the moral and ethical choice.

(and I still mourn that idiots who didn't understand history successfully sued to resegregate CMS).
posted by hydropsyche at 5:01 PM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Although I have to ask (semi-rhetorically), if sending a wealthier kid to a "bad school" doesn't change the outcome, why is it a problem for poorer kids to wind up there?

Without doing any research, my assumption is that the wealthier kids have access to a whole host of benefits that poorer kids don't, such as:

- tutoring, and associated costs
- parental involvement
- educational resources, and associated costs
- parental involvement
- extracurricular activities such as specialized schools and educational summer camps, and associated costs
- fucking parental involvement

If you're wealthy enough to send a kid to a 'rich' school and can get by on only one or two salaries, you're probably going to be able to devote more time to your kids than a family where both parents work, possibly on hourly rates and possibly more than two jobs apiece, have to scrimp and save on everything...

Oh, you said rhetorically? Sorry for repeating what you already knew, then.
posted by qcubed at 5:16 PM on January 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


But what pray tell are the "best social opportunities?" I'm having a really difficult time coming up with a charitable reading of that.

Un-charitably, I could read him to be referring to the idea that who you know opens doors to opportunities in life, and knowing rich people when you're growing up opens doors to rich people stuff. I grew up knowing rich people, and that hasn't really been my personal experience, but I'm also pretty strongly averse to "networking."

More charitable is the fact that a child's formative years are characterized in large part by the experiences they have with their peers, and their expectations for what their life can be and what they can achieve are shaped very strongly by the social relationships they develop and the dreams and hopes they share with their peers. Attitudes, habits, expectations, political views, goals, etc. are formed in part by observing those around us, and people tend to adopt a lot of that from their peer group. Hanging out with rich kids certainly does not reduce the likelihood that those peers will be assholes, obviously.
posted by The World Famous at 5:27 PM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


So, the root of the problems that many black and poor white people face is income inequality. Hmmm. Thank you, Mr. Marx, for that insightful blog post. Might I suggest you continue your reading and report back when you support increasing taxes on your wealthy friends? Thomas Piketty is a good place to start.
posted by irisclara at 5:43 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I mean I get it. One of my high school "friends" turned out to be running a fencing ring and went to jail for a year. Another was "too nerdy" and got stuffed in a metal trash can and rolled down a steep hill -- he broke many bones and never returned to that school. Our principal was arrested after sleeping with students in his office at school. A teacher killed himself, again in a very public and awful way. School was cancelled for a week due to bomb threats. My Spanish teacher spoke only German. Just completely ridiculous absurd stuff that I would pay a large amount of money for my kids to not have to go through. In fact this is a large part of the reason I've waited a long time to have kids myself, and eventually found a diverse area with great schools.

On the other hand, I think anyone who isn't trying to fix the system who has any tiny bit of ability to do so is just a selfish prick.
posted by miyabo at 5:47 PM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Wow, The World Famous, that's approaching some dogwhistley stuff. The "more charitable" bit is even worse.

Is diversity not a good social opportunity? Also, reading your comment I thought immediately of several black friends who grew up in rough-ish parts of Brooklyn and the Bronx, who are some of the most ambitious, successful, and yet open hearted people I've ever met. One is bringing a ton of people to a non profit event just because I asked.

I grew up in a wealthy area where beauty meant white and blond, that's not an attitude I'd like any children to be picking up. Many of the people I grew up with seem to have benefited from getting out and seeing a bit more of the world, me included.
posted by sweetkid at 5:49 PM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


“Killer Mike Educates Stephen Colbert [About How To Combat White Supremecy]”The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, 06 January 2016
posted by ob1quixote at 6:13 PM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


On the other hand, I think anyone who isn't trying to fix the system who has any tiny bit of ability to do so is just a selfish prick.

I think this gets to the heart of my prickliness on this issue.

If I think the system is unjust, I should be trying to fix the system. Forcing my kid to fight this battle by proxy seems selfish in its own way.

Not that I think it's okay to trample on every principle to give your kid an extra advantage, just that I don't think it's cool to make them go hungry just because there are still people starving in the world.
posted by bjrubble at 6:32 PM on January 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


Wow, The World Famous, that's approaching some dogwhistley stuff. The "more charitable" bit is even worse.

Really? That was not my intent. I'm not sure what dogwhitley subtext you're seeing in what I wrote, but I did not intend it to be so.

Is diversity not a good social opportunity?

It depends on what you mean by "diversity," I think. I think racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, economic, and other kinds of diversity are excellent, and very important social opportunities.

Also, reading your comment I thought immediately of several black friends who grew up in rough-ish parts of Brooklyn and the Bronx, who are some of the most ambitious, successful, and yet open hearted people I've ever met.

I hope my comment did not read as if I think there are no ambitious, successful, open-hearted people in non-rich neighborhoods, or that race has anything to do with one's ambition, capacity for success, or open-heartedness, as I certainly do not think that.

I grew up in a wealthy area where beauty meant white and blond, that's not an attitude I'd like any children to be picking up.

Like you, I wouldn't want any children to pick up the attitude that beauty means white and blond. I grew up as a middle-class kid in a wealthy area. I benefited from getting out and seeing a bit more of the world, like you did. I also benefited, as a not-very-good student with poor self-esteem and depression issues, from being surrounded by people who were preparing for college and encouraged me to do the same, and that sort of thing. If all my friends had not been talking about, preparing for, and taking ACT and SATs and applying for colleges, I'm not sure I would have had the confidence or drive to do it. I have no doubt that I would not have succeeded as an outlier. I would not have been the ambitious, successful one like your friends are.
posted by The World Famous at 6:41 PM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


The context of this piece is why the author moves to a white neighborhood so his kids can have "better security" and "social opportunities", all of which is very obviously dogwhistley, and then a bunch of white people in this thread are like "wow, so good" and nodding along in agreement. Precious few see it as a disgusting bit of racism, as I definitely do. Your comments about what those social opportunities are, as a response to the context of this thread, seem to back up the idea that white areas are where you get the opportunity and the security.

I have no doubt that I would not have succeeded as an outlier. I would not have been the ambitious, successful one like your friends are.

I didn't say they were outliers. You did. I don't know what their school experiences were.

I grew up in a wealthy area where beauty meant white and blond, that's not an attitude I'd like any children to be picking up.

Like you, I wouldn't want any children to pick up the attitude that beauty means white and blond. I grew up as a middle-class kid in a wealthy area.


This is what happens when you raise kids in all white areas though. Which is the context of this post. Which most people in this thread think is "so good" and agree with.
posted by sweetkid at 6:48 PM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


I don't trust anyone who espouses the idea that they know what the future holds for their kids unless they come at me with crazy white hair, wearing a yellow rain slicker, and driving a nuclear powered Delorean.

I don't have the research I've been shown before, and I hesitate to bother the wife as she studies for her accreditation exam, and I'm not an expert at all but the very first swing of my google fu yielded the following links, I'll sample the conclusions of the top four, because reasons:

1) Measuring the Effect of School Choice on Economic Outcomes: "As a parent, what matters may be simply focusing on a child's education regardless of the school a child attends."

But, admittedly, there is a bit there about how some correlations between choice and outcomes may exist but also carry the following heavy caveat:

"Students at these schools may have traits that contribute to their academic and economic achievement. Economists call this "selection bias," and its presence can negate causality in a relationship. Thus, the observed correlation between school type and economic outcomes may arise because students who attend private schools are inherently more likely to succeed regardless of where they are educated."

2) NCLB Public School Choice and Supplemental Educational Services: Outcomes: Here SES isn't socioeconomic status but is instead Supplemental Educational Services. I'm skipping it as I don't have time to see if it's really relevant.

3) The Effect of School Choice on Student Outcomes:
Evidence from Randomized Lotteries
:

Nonetheless, we find little evidence that winning a lottery provides any
benefit on a wide variety of traditional academic measures such as graduation, standardized test
scores, attendance rates, course-taking, and credit accumulation. Lottery winners do, however,
experience improvements on a subset of non-traditional outcome measures, such as self-reported
disciplinary incidences and arrest rates.


So not quite the topic of discussion but interesting to note what has been found during this analysis of lottery based choice.

4) Finding the Flaws in Claims about School Choice: What Do We Really Know About School Choice and Student Outcomes:

"In summary, looking at the simple relationship between choice schools and student achievement, I found a positive effect of choice schools, consistent with popular claims made in the headlines. However, when accounting for the observed and unobservable differences in data, these once promising results do not persist."

I'm not trying to present this information as canon or definitive in any way, it's literally the first four results from the first google search I did, if the wife was here she could link me the stuff she has looked at in depth and in an academic review, perhaps even for a meta-study that she got published, but if you haven't done at least this level of looking into the subject and expect anecdotes or gut opinion or sample sizes of one to carry much weight then I honestly don't know what to tell you...

I mean, honestly, like many others above have said (and have made me realize I need to say as well), if you feel like I'm pointing a finger at you, you, you and crying "Foul!!!!11111one" then I really do want to apologize because the system is at fault and you can't really be expected to do any different than what you think is best for you and yours. However, the crux is that there needs to be an understanding that the knee-jerk reaction of moving/choosing to go to a certain school isn't even logical for most of the cases folks like those that read this article from GOPLifer are facing.
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:56 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Your comments about what those social opportunities are, as a response to the context of this thread, seem to back up the idea that white areas are where you get the opportunity and the security.

Ah, I see where you're coming from. I wasn't talking about "white areas." Does that help clear up my intent?

I didn't say they were outliers. You did. I don't know what their school experiences were.

My apologies. I was trying to follow your line of argument and apparently misinterpreted the point you were trying to make. I thought you were trying to make the point that people who grow up in a rough-ish neighborhood with lower-achieving public schools can, nevertheless, be ambitious and successful - which is a point I fully agree with.

This is what happens when you raise kids in all white areas though.

I didn't say anything about "all white" areas, and the folks in this thread with whom I was discussing the ethics of moving to an area with excellent public schools for the benefit of my kids were, I understood, talking about the economic disparities, not the racial demographics.

Which is the context of this post. Which most people in this thread think is "so good" and agree with.

Ok. I was commenting in the context of some of the comments further down in the thread. Apologies.
posted by The World Famous at 6:59 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I had heard the term red-lining sometime in the distant past (1980s?), and knew it had something to do with discrimination in Chicago... I had no idea about the whole block-busting thing... thanks for the education.

I had to look up "dog whistle" in urban dictionary to know what ya'll were talking about. I'll freely admit my racist streak that I try to keep a lid on, but when we moved for "better schools" for our child... it was actually for better schools.

I'm now living in one of the historically better off towns in my area... in one of the cheapest homes available... but we own it outright, no mortgage... I had no idea I was buying a membership... but now that you mention it, and upon reflection... yes... it's one heck of membership to have.

If we can make things better for minorities by raising their opportunities, and giving them the same kind of slack I get as a middle aged white guy, I'm all for it. Just don't make it a zero sum game, it doesn't have to be.
posted by MikeWarot at 7:15 PM on January 8, 2016



Which is the context of this post. Which most people in this thread think is "so good" and agree with.

Ok. I was commenting in the context of some of the comments further down in the thread. Apologies.


Yeah, i think the article itself is pretty racist. I think any comments that are like "Wow, yeah, so right on" are pretty racist, too. I can see that you're not trying to be, but, I think we should always consider the context of the post in the discussion.
posted by sweetkid at 7:23 PM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


I am adding this article to the list of reasons why I think "speak truth to power" is an awful slogan. Power knows the truth. Power grew up knowing the truth. And power likes things just the way they are.

that's the tl;dr: of this article. "I'm powerful, I know what I'm doing, I know how it helps me, I know how it hurts you, and I'm totally okay with that."
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 7:27 PM on January 8, 2016 [11 favorites]



that's the tl;dr: of this article. "I'm powerful, I know what I'm doing, I know how it helps me, I know how it hurts you, and I'm totally okay with that."


Seriously, thank you so much for this, I felt like I was in bizarro Metafilter reading a lot of the comments here.
posted by sweetkid at 7:28 PM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


This is also one of the reasons why I prefer to refer to white supremacist thinking as white supremacist rather than using the milder and vaguer term "racist." White supremacy means white neighborhoods are better places to live than other neighborhoods, because supremacy means getting all the best stuff to yourself.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 7:31 PM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


sweetkid: I think people got jammed up on this because the author's analysis of the situation is more or less correct. Being smart and insightful doesn't make you good. in the case of the author of this article, being insightful has given them the tools to be more effectively, deliberately reprehensible.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 7:34 PM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


One big tip-off in the article is his response in the comments to a question about whether there are wealthy neighborhoods in Chicago that are not as white as where he lives. He responds by acknowledging the existence of places like Oak Park and Evanston, but then hand-waves them by claiming they're too expensive compared to Elmhurst. From what I can tell with a little googling, that's not actually true - they're way, way more diverse, and not actually more expensive.

I think people got jammed up on this because the author's analysis of the situation is more or less correct.

The title of the piece is a bait-and-switch: "Why I Live in a White Neighborhood," followed by an article that just describes the history that created this white neighborhood where he is thrilled to live, conveniently omitting the reason why he chose the Chicago suburb that's white, safe, and has good schools, as opposed to one of the ones that are only two of those things.
posted by The World Famous at 7:38 PM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Sweetkid: do you feel that way about those of us who are POC in this conversation?
posted by corb at 7:56 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Feel what way?
posted by sweetkid at 7:58 PM on January 8, 2016


I guess that we're being racist when we think the author has identified important stuff? Sorry I can't quote, I'm on my shitty phone.
posted by corb at 8:15 PM on January 8, 2016


Um, I don't really understand.
posted by sweetkid at 8:23 PM on January 8, 2016


I might have misread you? I thought you were saying commentators who agreed with this guys article were racist, and I wanted to check in with you. Sorry if I was totally off base!
posted by corb at 8:24 PM on January 8, 2016


I thought the article itself was pretty racist, and had glancing nods to institutional racism, but mostly just racist, and I pointed that out a few times. Then there were a bunch of comments like "wow, this is so good" and "this guy is a secret leftist" which, what? and "he's being nice to white people because reading Coates is too hard or something" and "look around you? who is even white?"

commentators who agreed with this guys article were racist,


People who are agreeing with the article without realizing the massive racist issues with it and trying to softpedal it with "think of the children" are supporting white supremacy because this article supports white supremacy. I was a little shocked to see so much of it in this thread, so clearly on display.
posted by sweetkid at 8:29 PM on January 8, 2016


> sweetkid: I think people got jammed up on this because the author's analysis of the situation is more or less correct. Being smart and insightful doesn't make you good.

I don't think the article is very smart or insightful at all. Noticing that one legacy of urban housing discrimination is an ongoing lack of racial diversity in outlying neighborhoods isn't exactly a lighting bolt.
posted by desuetude at 8:34 PM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think any comments that are like "Wow, yeah, so right on" are pretty racist, too.

I haven’t really seen those comments, we’re definitely reading them differently. People think this is a really interesting discussion presented thoughtfully, I didn’t see "this guy is so awesome".

that's the tl;dr: of this article. "I'm powerful, I know what I'm doing, I know how it helps me, I know how it hurts you, and I'm totally okay with that."

Kind of, only he didn’t at all say he was totally OK with that, he just said he was going to do it anyway. That was kind of the whole point of the discussion.

Everyone who lives in the US lives off of exploited workers and cheap products from here and abroad. Every day we buy things knowing this, but we do it anyway. You buy meat knowing the animals were tortured, vegetables from exploited farm workers, but hey, what are you gonna do? Gotta eat.

We face ethical quandaries every day. Everyone draws the line in a different place.

I don’t agree with this guy, or this position, but this is a dilemma for people and I thought he presented it fairly thoughtfully. Acting like there’s a simple solution of "that guy just needs to quit being horrible" and "GRR I hate racists" isn’t really saying much. It’s not about that guy, he didn’t lynch anyone, he’s just benefitting from racism and knows it’s a morally precarious stance. The system sucks. Even he acknowledged that.
posted by bongo_x at 9:09 PM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


I think any comments that are like "Wow, yeah, so right on" are pretty racist, too.

I haven’t really seen those comments, we’re definitely reading them differently. People think this is a really interesting discussion presented thoughtfully, I didn’t see "this guy is so awesome".


We didn't all think it was so thoughtful, and it's handwaving to say we buy meat or whatever, we're not talking about meat, we're talking about this guy saying he wants to live in a white place because he has better security and social opportunities and whatareyougonnado. I think it's silly that I'm saying GRR racists, I didn't say that anywhere.

Also it's pretty offensive for people to say they're white liberals and be like "as white liberals, we can't shock people with Ta Nehisi Coates, this stuff is more palatable."

Also as I said before, a writer who purports to be talking about race and calls people purple is not a person to be taken seriously, and people should just read and recommend Ta Nehisi Coates and other thoughtful writers instead.
posted by sweetkid at 9:23 PM on January 8, 2016


I mean, he sucks. people suck. the fact that he supports this system by voting for Republicans makes him extra sucky -- there's a party for useless liberals in this country, it's called the Democratic Party, he should consider joining it. but yeah I'm typing this from a phone built by hyperexploited Foxconn workers, and I'm wearing clothes with the blood of children sewn in every stitch, and when I go home I'm gonna eat a curry made with fish sauce containing shrimp harvested by literal slaves -- but at least I realize that all of these things are terrible things made via terrible crimes. the fact that the crime is organized and systematized makes it worse, not better - this guy is far too quick to exonerate himself for his white supremacist actions and beliefs. Just because being a self-serving white supremacist is entirely rational for self-interested white people doesn't (as he seems to believe) make it somehow not white supremacist.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:30 PM on January 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


maybe the tldr of the tldr for this article is "hey, guys, I just figured it out: life here in Omelas is hella sweet! you guys are nuts for even thinking of walking away!"
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:35 PM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


If we can make things better for minorities by raising their opportunities, and giving them the same kind of slack I get as a middle aged white guy, I'm all for it. Just don't make it a zero sum game

I hope you see the irony in this statement. Even the OP's article links to other articles pointing out how the game has been, for decades, if not centuries, not only completely and disgustingly rigged, but zero sum.

I mean, yeah, ideally, it's not. In practice, thanks to the vast privileges afforded wealth and how quickly even white lower classes are seeing their livelihoods eaten away, to the point where they realize they're starting to be treated like minorities...

Why do you think they're breaking so hard for Trump? Racism is a big part of it. They see how we've abused minorities. They don't want to be treated like that, even if they can't express it or even identify it as such.

Maybe we can turn it into a game where everyone wins. Maybe we can create a system where minorities have the same set of opportunities as those with white wealth. That would, however, require white wealth to admit their complicity in a terrible system, and wanting to change it, even if they have to sacrifice.

Between you and me, though, I'm not gonna hold my breath on that count. And I say this from a comfortable perch as a house minority.
posted by qcubed at 10:38 PM on January 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


One possible solution to the Neighborhood for idealistic idiots Problem would conclude "and that's why I have an 80 minute commute," but no, it's the diversity criteria that went out the window. Because it's easy.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:01 PM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


While I'm from a different country, I'd like to contribute a personal anecdote supporting the idea that social economic status far outweighs what school you go to - I went to a "bad" school where not a single student (out of about 400) scored straight As in the national exit exam, badly underfunded, demotivated / absent teaching staff, lack of basic infrastructure, while at the same time my younger brother went to a "good" school which everyone wanted to get to where about 40 out of the 400 students would score straight As in their exit exams (he was one of the 40). We lived within the catchment area of both schools so we had the option of either - my parents belatedly realised how bad my school was and so chose to get my younger brother into the other, better school, but apparently decided for unknown reasons to leave me where I was.

Neither of us have had appreciable differences in life trajectory post schooling, and I don't feel like it made a big difference or that I missed out on anything. Certainly my grades were poorer going to the worse school. Yes, I got bullied while he got to build his network of smart and rich friendships but it's not that big a deal - there's lots of time for networking later and also outside of school, and being immersed in the realities of the social underclass and learning how to deal with bullies has its own value, versus living in the fantasy bubble of the 1%.
posted by xdvesper at 11:34 PM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Lemme also briefly (or not so briefly) touch on this whole, "I don't want my kids to fight my battles" business.

On face, it's admirable. And again, it's perfectly understandable and rational for you guys to want the best for your children. I don't know, however, if you realize that they are still fighting your battles. Instead of being on the front lines, though, they're back in your safe little villages and townships, suburban and exurban enclaves, building fortifications and digging defensive trenches to protect the white wealth, the white supremacy, the white domination. There are some damn good schools out there in the burbs, and damn good schools lead to damn good universities lead to damn good Greek networking lead to nice cool corridors of power.

Meanwhile, all those PoC left behind? They're raising another whole generation of forlorn youth, ready to be mauled and macerated by the jaws of racism arrayed before them. A whole 'nother generation of PoC destined to be cut down by attrition as they go from trench to trench, fighting for each precious step up the ladder just so a couple can try to hammer past the glass ceiling.

I mean, I don't blame you. You gotta do what you gotta do for your kids. Don't kick yourself too much over it. I speak for myself only, as PoC, I get it. You got yours. Your guilt won't do much, so cut it out. But I also gotta say, stop pretending you're an ally.

A lot of you know, and yes, knowing's half the battle. Just because you've done a bit of your half the battle doesn't mean you've really done much at all.

Take your win, graciously.
posted by qcubed at 11:41 PM on January 8, 2016 [13 favorites]


Judging from my parents' experience, enrolling your children in a mediocre to terrible public school still works if you're willing to invest time in being on the PTC, after school activities, and additional tutoring.

I'm surprised how fast a lot of parents are to outsource these hours to a private school, but I guess the fact that I have almost no coworkers at my 6 figure job who went to a public school shows they do work.
posted by zymil at 12:25 AM on January 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Zymil, sincere question, did your mom work outside the home?

I worry that a lot of this "you don't need good schools if you just put in the time with your kids \ put in the time to make the school better" really only works with donated labir from a stay at home parent.
posted by OnceUponATime at 6:14 AM on January 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


My brother and I were latchkey kids, as were most of our friends, regardless of ethnicity. Our parents were still involved in the schools and in our lives.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:58 AM on January 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


(note: I know that latchkey kids are now illegal in a lot of places. My point is just that a stay-at-home parent is not necessary for kids to succeed in "bad schools".)
posted by hydropsyche at 6:59 AM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Zymil, sincere question, did your mom work outside the home?

My mother has worked her entire career as a speech pathologist and guidance counselor with a few years off around my and my sibling's births.

I realise that a lot of parents aren't fortunate enough to have the time or resources to invest in their children's education, but if you can afford hefty private school fees I think its worth considering just spending the equivalent in time with your kids and their school.

Going to a haphazardly run and occasionally physically dangerous school certainly hurt me, but I don't think I'd trade it for a private school education with more distant parents.
posted by zymil at 9:26 AM on January 9, 2016


if you can afford hefty private school fees I think its worth considering just spending the equivalent in time with your kids

Huh, I guess you can start to quantify it. If your marginal hour is worth $50 after taxes (not unusual at all for busy well-paid professionals), and private school costs $20,000, then parents are estimating that school is providing about 400 hours a year in extra value, or a little over an hour a day. Attending PTA meetings, helping your kid with their homework, keeping them involved in extracurriculars... actually sounds like it would probably average about an hour a day of work. For people who make more it would be more beneficial to spend money on their kids, for people who make less it would be more beneficial to spend time on them. Weird way of thinking about it.
posted by miyabo at 9:54 AM on January 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Why does he assume that all, or even most, of Trump's support comes from lower or lower-middle-class whites? Nothing I've seen shows this to be the case.


Slightly over a third of his supporters earn less than $50,000 per year, while 11 percent earn over $100,000 per year. Definitely not country club Republicans, but not terribly unusual either.

posted by raysmj at 10:42 AM on January 9, 2016


HOWEVER that RCP article notes that the average Trump supporter is in fact somewhat poorer than the average Republican.

I went into that article all "AH HAH I KNEW IT TRUMP'S BASE IS SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS," but unfortunately the figures they cite don't exactly support that claim (though they don't exactly refute it either).

What I want to be true is that Trump's base be made up of blisteringly stupid entitled angry poor white men led by venal angry manipulative self-serving small business owners. but despite the truthiness of that idea, I haven't found evidence that it's actually true.

> For people who make more it would be more beneficial to spend money on their kids, for people who make less it would be more beneficial to spend time on them. Weird way of thinking about it.

It's "weird" because the logic of the commodity system is a framework for interpreting reality, rather than being itself unquestionable reality. And despite its omniprevalence as an interpretive system, it's very bad at actually modeling any important human relationship. It's a procrustean bed; if you raise your children in terms of its dictates, you amputate important parts of your family.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:39 AM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


It amazes me that people don't realize there's a middle ground. A city with cops who protect property and suppress disorder without hesitation, and a comprehensive K-12 system of gifted and test selected schools, is a city where educated married parents can happily remain and resist the siren call of the suburbs.
posted by MattD at 11:54 AM on January 9, 2016


something something Taxed Enough Already rabble rabble

People don't like paying for taxes. Let alone when the poors or other "undeserved" underserved minorities might get the benefits.
posted by qcubed at 12:02 PM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


> A city with cops who protect property and suppress disorder without hesitation

oh god don't make me look up that Richard Daley quote about what cops are supposed to do w/r/t disorder.

that aside though, I think the thing that gives the lie to this guy's claim and makes me regret saying that he had a good analysis upthread — of all the major American cities, Chicago is maybe the one I know least, and I shouldn't have spouted off from a position of ignorance — anyway, The World Famous's comment upthread about how there's better, comparably priced, less white places to live in the Chicago area than Elmhurst puts paid to this guy's halfhearted claim to not be a white supremacist.

He's not there because Elmhurst is nice, he's there because it's white. saying that there's a "middle ground" where police only attack when they're supposed to and where schools use tests to neatly sort students isn't really a middle ground, because it doesn't address this guy's real priorities.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:06 PM on January 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


It's not just that. Liberals also don't like Gifted and Talented schools. I mean, educated married parents love them, but Gifted and Talented schools tend to be indicative of the other factors going into achievement - they are majority-white and Asian, majority-middle class, etc. Right now, my basically G&T high school is under a lot of fire because, even though they have an objective, color-blind test to get in, it's like 75% Asian and 3% black.
posted by corb at 12:09 PM on January 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Liberals also don't like Gifted and Talented schools. I mean, educated married parents love them, but Gifted and Talented schools tend to be indicative of the other factors going into achievement - they are majority-white and Asian, majority-middle class, etc.

I wouldn't say it's "liberals". I'd say it's white people.
posted by qcubed at 12:38 PM on January 9, 2016


yeah, in some ways you're right - there did start being this weird gross white pushback on G&T once the Asian population started going up. But either way - I think well done G&T would be wonderful, but I don't think, sadly, that there's a lot of political capital for it.
posted by corb at 12:40 PM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


the gifted program I was in, at a "zebra school" — this term refers to a school that's integrated on paper, but in reality involves housing a segregated white-and-Asian gifted program within a segregated Black-and-Latin@ school in order to produce on-paper desegregation — did not serve me well. It taught me that I was special and smart and good and never had to work hard to succeed, and that the people in the other school that just happened to occupy the same building were not special and not smart and not good and deserved what they got (which is to say, the school-to-prison pipeline).

I know a statistically improbably large number of people from the gifted program that I went to who sort of sputtered and fizzled and went nowhere after they were too old to count as child prodigies (I count myself among this number).
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:01 PM on January 9, 2016 [9 favorites]


It amazes me that people don't realize there's a middle ground. A city with cops who protect property and suppress disorder without hesitation, and a comprehensive K-12 system of gifted and test selected schools, is a city where educated married parents can happily remain and resist the siren call of the suburbs.

Weirdly I have plenty of friends who are "educated married parents" who choose to live in Atlanta and send their kids to public schools even though we arguably do not have the former (although, don't you worry, our cops do love shooting unarmed black men) and certainly do not have the latter. The "siren call of the suburbs" is pretty easy to resist when the city has awesome culture and great food and interesting people and things to do and the suburbs have only all-white schools (and even that is harder to find in metro Atlanta than it used to be).
posted by hydropsyche at 4:19 PM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


DuPage County. I ain't never going back.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:43 PM on January 9, 2016


Maybe we can turn it into a game where everyone wins. Maybe we can create a system where minorities have the same set of opportunities as those with white wealth. That would, however, require white wealth to admit their complicity in a terrible system, and wanting to change it, even if they have to sacrifice.

colorado tried with amendment 66 a couple years ago:*

Coloradans To Vote On Schools Initiative Mixing Funding, Reforms
BRUNDIN: Amendment 66 is predicated on the belief that a child's zip code shouldn't determine the quality of his or her education. It targets money at the kids who need it. Hickenlooper explains that high-poverty districts like Denver would get up to 40 percent more money per at-risk student because they're costlier to educate.

HICKENLOOPER: And that money follows the kid. For the first time in the United States, if a kid drops out, the school stops receiving money from the district at that moment.

BRUNDIN: A big incentive, the governor says, for schools to keep students from dropping out. The driving force behind the measure is a young Democratic senator from Denver, Mike Johnston. He says districts with low property tax bases would get more state funding.
Two out of three voters rejected Amendment 66 - "The promise of higher teacher salaries and full-day kindergarten failed to resonate, even in areas where the money would have had the greatest benefit."
We are likely to see many, many more episodes like this in the months and years to come, though there will be variations on the theme. As statewide teacher-evaluation laws, Common Core implementation, tougher assessments, and other reforms really begin influencing suburbia, the ed-reform debate is going to seriously evolve. New fault lines are likely to appear. I’m not sure what this will look like, but if we thought urban ed reform was contentious, just wait.
An Idea For Decreasing Income Segregation And Increasing Economic Mobility
One of the big and under-appreciated problems in this country is income segregation. One way this happens is that higher income neighborhoods use restrictive zoning to keep low-income housing out of their neighborhoods. This is bad for low-income households because it often means effectively keeping them out of better schools, and even keeps them away from areas with better job market access. In their massive study on economic mobility, Chetty et al (2014) found that income segregation and economic mobility at the commuting zone level were related with a correlation of -0.393. The graph below shows that this relationship is pretty clear in the data.

This suggests that decreasing income segregation is one way to improve economic mobility. Another obvious way to do this is to improve college attendance, and the quality of colleges attended, for low-income people. However, simply pursuing an aggressive income-based affirmative action strategy where colleges directly tie acceptance to household income has the perverse effect of disincentivizing higher earnings. That is, if you reward people for lower incomes, you’re effectively increasing the marginal tax rate.

So this brings to mind a policy mechanism that would attack both of these fronts at the same time: decreasing income segregation, and allow for more income-based affirmative action without disincentivizing higher income. You could award college acceptance points based on the average household income of the zip code where a family lives. This mechanism has a lot of positive aspects.

First, it gives high-income neighborhoods incentives to increase the amount of low-income housing. This pushes against the restrictive zoning that often keeps low-income households out of good schools and neighborhoods.

Second, because zip code income is right now a good proxy for household income, it will help more low-income students attend college by making it easier to get accepted.

Third, it does this without negatively impacting the incentives of individual households to earn more. Households don’t help their college acceptance odds by earning less.

An additional twist to this, proposed by Steve Waldmann on twitter, is to award points based on the average income of the k-12 school attended. Zip code is smaller than school district, which is incentivizes more thorough integration. And I think you want integration both in the schools and in the neighborhoods, so I think perhaps a mix of these two would work best
Clinton taps Harvard professor's ideas on social mobility - "The research Chetty and his team have done shows that children who grow up in parts of the country with less segregation, less income inequality, stronger schools, more social capital, and stable families are more likely to improve their social standing as adults."
posted by kliuless at 10:04 PM on January 9, 2016 [7 favorites]


there did start being this weird gross white pushback on G&T once the Asian population started going up

New Jersey School District Eases Pressure on Students, Baring an Ethnic Divide - "A superintendent's letter advocating a 'whole child' approach to learning revealed a fissure that broke down roughly along racial lines, with white parents on one side and Asian-Americans on the other."

some twitter responses...
-"on clashing preferences of striving immigrants vs comfortable middle class for kids' schools"*
-"When Asian American kids in an NJ school district did too well, the white superintendent started making 'reforms.' "*
posted by kliuless at 10:28 PM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


I mean, there was that study which showed white people were all for academic, merit-based admissions until they found out white people would not succeed as well.

At which point they suddenly understood the value of a form of affirmative action.

Which, you know. Only they would benefit from, not the be-melanined peoples of the world.
posted by qcubed at 10:36 PM on January 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


My friend wrote a blog on this subject: I’m a Black Mother Considering a Failing Elementary School For My Son
posted by domo at 12:32 PM on January 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


I mean, I don't blame you. You gotta do what you gotta do for your kids. Don't kick yourself too much over it. I speak for myself only, as PoC, I get it. You got yours. Your guilt won't do much, so cut it out. But I also gotta say, stop pretending you're an ally.

Wow, thanks for your condescending mock-forgiveness of my personal terribleness. That's very constructive.

As others have pointed out, I hope you don't eat meat or wear clothes made in sweatshops or basically participate at all in the modern economy, because I hate to think how that would stain your pristine self-image.

BTW, just for the record, we never saw anything about racial makeup of the school districts we were looking at, and since we are in Seattle (which is horrendously segregated, something that underlies the school disparities but is a much broader and deeper problem) and both districts are in "white" areas I have no particular reason to believe that we went with the whiter option (although I don't doubt this was the case, because the world just sucks like that). The main reason we didn't move to the lower-performing district was because it has a lot of semi-temporary residents, and we didn't want the kid's friends to always be moving away.

In my mind, that doesn't change anything -- we're still trying to give our kid the best environment we can afford, even though it means not contributing our resources where they'd do the most good -- but if you think our intention is to raise a little David Duke I think you've parked your hobby horse under the wrong tree.
posted by bjrubble at 9:57 AM on January 11, 2016 [2 favorites]



I mean, I don't blame you. You gotta do what you gotta do for your kids. Don't kick yourself too much over it. I speak for myself only, as PoC, I get it. You got yours. Your guilt won't do much, so cut it out. But I also gotta say, stop pretending you're an ally.

Wow, thanks for your condescending mock-forgiveness of my personal terribleness


Did I miss something and that was written to you, personally? I think it's better if people understand that comment as pointing out what the cost is to PoC children and generally society, based on all the statistics about how integrated schools provide more children with better opportunities and chances.

Also the meat comparisons are getting really offensive and gross, we are talking about children, not cows and chickens. Please stop that.
posted by sweetkid at 10:02 AM on January 11, 2016 [5 favorites]


Did I miss something and that was written to you, personally?

Nasty stuff written about the personal moral worth of people who make a particular choice, which is a choice I've made? Yeah, I count that as written about me, personally.

Also the meat comparisons are getting really offensive and gross, we are talking about children, not cows and chickens. Please stop that.

How is this equating children with chickens? The point is that it's difficult in all sorts of ways to live in modern society without compromising your principles. The suggestion in a lot of this discussion is basically that anyone who tries to put their kids in better schools is motivated by (or at least supremely indifferent to) racism. If you think that's substantively different than suggesting that meat eaters are really in it for the cruelty to animals, you're welcome to make that case.
posted by bjrubble at 11:40 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


Or you could just not get het up. People aren't going to agree with all your life choices -- especially if the end results disadvantage them and the people they love. They have that right, and have the right to say so. And they don't have to have never eaten meat to have an opinion about the subject.
posted by maxsparber at 11:42 AM on January 11, 2016 [5 favorites]


It was a pretty easy comment to get het up over - and one that was pretty damn het up in its own right.
posted by The World Famous at 1:15 PM on January 11, 2016


Yes, this tends to happen in situations where the privileged are defending their privilege to those they disadvantage. But, you know, they already have the upper hand. It seems a little much to also demand the right to get hot under the collar when they get called on it.
posted by maxsparber at 1:28 PM on January 11, 2016 [6 favorites]


I have some friends that are vegans, and they get pretty het up about meat eating. On a moral level, some of them think it's The Worst Thing, because in one case, creatures are actually dying for your casual enjoyment. While you may not agree, it's worth pointing out that some people consider animal ownership as tantamount to slavery, and unironically say things like meat is murder
posted by corb at 1:29 PM on January 11, 2016


As others have pointed out, I hope you don't eat meat or wear clothes made in sweatshops or basically participate at all in the modern economy, because I hate to think how that would stain your pristine self-image.

As I said, bjrubble:
Look, we all make compromises, and those compromises make us less and less pure. You just have to live with them is all.

I mean, really. I'm not saying that I'm saying this is about ideological purity. You can still be "liberal" and live in lily-white areas with lily-white schools with good schools and low crime. I'm just saying what white people are doing, consciously or not, does contribute to actual racial segregation.

In my mind, that doesn't change anything -- we're still trying to give our kid the best environment we can afford, even though it means not contributing our resources where they'd do the most good -- but if you think our intention is to raise a little David Duke I think you've parked your hobby horse under the wrong tree.
I didn't say that was your intention. I did point out that regardless of intention, it does perpetuate certain pre-existing systems that benefit white supremacy at the expense of POC opportunity.

So, as I said, bjrubble: Take your win graciously.
posted by qcubed at 1:30 PM on January 11, 2016 [6 favorites]


I'm not even actively judging you for going to "safe neighborhoods" with "good schools". I understand it entirely. If my mom could have afforded it, you can bet your ass we would not have lived in a... "less residential" area for some of my school years.

It seems like what seems to stick in the craw of a lot of white people, though, is just pointing out that they're not always the allies that they think they are. That often they do benefit from systemic racism and pointing it out is a big no-no.

I'm sorry that you were offended. I'm sorry you disagree.

I'm sorry that you think that when I think people who perpetuate systems of racism shouldn't call themselves allies, that it must be some huge moral judgment and a personal attack.
posted by qcubed at 1:36 PM on January 11, 2016 [7 favorites]


It was a pretty easy comment to get het up over
I mean, I guess? If you think someone saying, "yes, we have heard of these 'allies' you speak of" in a perhaps slightly arid fashion while also saying that people are gonna do what they're gonna do is something to get upset about? I'm simply restating a portion of what the OP's original article was saying.

- and one that was pretty damn het up in its own right.
I assure you, I wasn't angry in the least when I wrote it. I do like me some purple prose, which does describe that comment, but I was saying this: I get it. If I had had or would have those opportunities, I'd think long and hard about taking them myself. You gotta do what you gotta do.

I just think the whole argument about children not fighting parents' battles was bullshit. I also think that knowing about problems and having white guilt really doesn't amount to much at all. I mean, some of my best friends are millennial, like myself, but white. Some of them feel a little guilty that they were somewhat easily able to buy a condo because of the small fortunes their parents passed onto them for the down payment, while I continually have to push that down the horizon because, well, mom's house needs fixing. Brother's car needs fixing. Mom's bill needs to be paid.

Their white guilt does me less than nothing. Indeed, it makes me feel like crap if they ever bring it up, because I'm really just trying to enjoy the fireplace they just installed and it's warm and it looks pretty. Don't make it weird. Don't feel bad that your family had stock in whatever and you could sell it. Just quit it.

Or, as that link to Hari Kondabolu pointed out: I'd trade not being able to buy for having bought and feeling a little bad about it, because at the end of the day, I'd get to sleep in a bed in a place I own, not a bed in a place that I don't.
posted by qcubed at 2:29 PM on January 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


qcubed, what, in your view, would the best way be for someone like me to, in your words, be an ally where the decision of where to live and raise a family is concerned?
posted by The World Famous at 3:30 PM on January 11, 2016


0. I get it. You want an answer and you think this is a nice little rhetorical trap. I don't know if I should assume good faith here, because that hasn't done much for me in these discussions. But sure, here goes.

1. Stop pretending that the term 'ally' has some sort of mystical value where you can feel good about not being one of those racists--and stop being offended when someone doesn't think you're being an 'ally'. Being an 'ally' doesn't inoculate you from doing racist shit, nor does it give you a pass when you do racist shit. And really, it's a term that doesn't mean anything. So you're not a cartoon racist. Congratulations!

2. Stop assuming or implying that just because I'm a POC I speak for all POC. Or have some mystical insight other than being a little bit more sensitive to, "Hey, that's some racist bullshit." This, of course, means I don't necessarily have an answer. If you're looking for one, then I think it's grossly unfair. I mean, it's not like you're coming up with answers other than trying to self-justify and self-absolve for perpetuating racist systems--and taking umbrage when someone points that out.

3. If you're going to perpetuate an unfair system because it gives you or your family some direct, visible benefit, then figure out some way of giving back. Maybe it's not bitching about tax rates and not fighting against pooling resources and busing. Don't feel bad about it, because I probably wouldn't feel too bad about it if the tables were turned. I mean, seriously, I don't feel bad that I went to an elite school on merit and white people of lower SES didn't. Sure, there's some privilege there, and it directly leads to other outcomes. I acknowledge it. In other words, your white guilt does jack shit so stop feeling guilty and maybe actually do something. My feeling guilty that I got into an elite school and Jim Bob didn't doesn't do shit for Jim Bob. My donating time and money to scholarship funds and other non-profits? That does do something, maybe not for Jim Bob, but maybe for Jim Bob Jr.

4. I don't know your situation. I don't care about your situation. Indeed, really, I'm just commenting on the internet. If you can live with what you're doing, then good for you. If you want to help, I'm sure there are plenty of resources you can google or whatever. I don't get a say in where you live or how you live, but I do get to point out where you live or how you live fits into certain pre-existing patterns. It's up to you what you do with that information. If you can live with it, because it's a really nice house, then live with it. I'm sure it's a really nice house. I bet it's got a nice big yard, friendly neighbors, a wonderful marble countertop in the kitchen with a cozy little breakfast nook. Maybe you should think about installing a Nest. On the other hand, if you can't live with that knowledge, well, then, either you can blot it out of your memory, or you can move back in, or you can do some local actions that make sense in whatever suburb you're in.

5. Seriously, what is up with wanting to be an 'ally' all the time? Either you're aligned and doing something, or you're not. 'Ally' is not some cookie or star or badge someone puts on your chest. You can think you're allied, but maybe the POC you're interacting with doesn't. Sucks for you. You can still walk--or, as is pointed out in this thread, move--away. If you get tired of feeling guilty even when you shouldn't, you can just relax and be complicit instead and not bear the costs. People who are actually in the shit, well... leaving isn't exactly an option.

6. If you do fight back somehow, then don't brag about it and try to score points about it. Good for you if you campaign for A. A. Aronson for the school board who's going to do good things. Doesn't mean the struggle is over. Doesn't mean you can unfurl a Mission Accomplished banner and say we're post-racial. It's not how it works.

7. Look, if you want to be an 'ally', fine, just say you're an 'ally'. Proof is in the pudding, so to speak. Doesn't mean I or anyone else has to believe it or put value on the term. Indeed, with how so many 'allies' act, I really don't these days. Especially ones who act in 'good faith'. Those are the ones whose feelings get hurt most when you point out they've done or are doing something not so great.
posted by qcubed at 4:15 PM on January 11, 2016 [9 favorites]


[One comment deleted. Difficult enough topic already, this really needs to not be personal. By which I mean, it needs to not be about the individual people in this thread, their personal choices/families/etc, and the flip side of that, not interrogating individuals about their own racial calculus or demanding answers or asking for one's own life to be assessed or whatever. Talking about what "a person" should do is fine, talking about "what could I personally do to satisfy you personally" isn't going to lead anywhere good.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 5:31 PM on January 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


Re-reading the comment that touched off this bout of injured feelings and the subsequent replies, I'm wondering if it was the use of the phrase, "white supremacy"?

I'm aware of what it often means, but in this specific context, I was not saying that those who move to the suburbs take the Fourteen Words to heart, or actively hold a belief system that the SPLC would take issue with. I was, instead, using this definition:

By "white supremacy" I do not mean to allude only to the self-conscious racism of white supremacist hate groups. I refer instead to a political, economic and cultural system in which whites overwhelmingly control power and material resources, conscious and unconscious ideas of white superiority and entitlement are widespread, and relations of white dominance and non-white subordination are daily reenacted across a broad array of institutions and social settings.

I am most emphatically not, and I repeat this again, not equating anyone who moves to the burbs with neo-Nazi or Christian Identity movements.
posted by qcubed at 7:25 PM on January 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


qcubed, I don't think you need to apologize for the use of white supremacy. You're not the first person who used the term and I think most people should understand it in this context as a description of systemic bias rather than like, people believing in the KKK.
posted by sweetkid at 7:42 PM on January 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


qcubed, I'd be happy to discuss it civilly via mefimail, but I'm pretty sure the mods don't want the conversation about that comment continuing here.
posted by The World Famous at 9:35 PM on January 11, 2016


It seems like what seems to stick in the craw of a lot of white people, though, is just pointing out that they're not always the allies that they think they are. That often they do benefit from systemic racism and pointing it out is a big no-no.

I'm sorry that you think that when I think people who perpetuate systems of racism shouldn't call themselves allies, that it must be some huge moral judgment and a personal attack.


I'm not anyone's ally. (A totally bullshit label, as you point out.)

I'd never claim that I do "enough" to fight racism. I certainly haven't made any heroic personal sacrifices toward that goal, never mind forcing someone else to make such a sacrifice (which is a much taller order, and what I feel is being asked for here).

But there's a big difference between "ally" and some of the rhetoric thrown around in this thread:

- "Ayn Rand, survival-of-the-fittest, winner-take-all attempts to buy my child into the upper middle class"
- "okay with white supremacist practice"
- "building fortifications and digging defensive trenches to protect the white wealth, the white supremacy, the white domination"

It's this sense that if you aren't willing to literally impoverish yourself to reject the system, you're not just functionally helping to propagate it (which is totally fair to point out), but you should be treated as though the system is a perfect reflection of your own values.

The point of bringing up meat and sweatshops is that we are all surrounded by unjust systems, and it's basically impossible to reject all of them and actually function. If you eat meat, you're perpetuating unspeakable cruelty to animals (and even if you don't, you're probably perpetuating less unspeakable but still considerable cruelty to farm workers). If you buy clothes, you're perpetuating sweatshop labor. If you use electronics, you're perpetuating so many terrible things (slavery, strip mining, civil wars) it should make you want to vomit.

If you have rejected all these systems, and live a perfectly unprivileged life that exploits nobody, I really can't fault you for excoriating us imperfect humans for our compromises. (We do basically suck.) But otherwise it seems like the issue is about which compromises are really okay, which in my mind is haggling over the price and certainly doesn't merit this level of vitriol.
posted by bjrubble at 3:42 PM on January 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


but you should be treated as though the system is a perfect reflection of your own values.

I seriously don't get where this is coming from. I have stated over and over and over again that compromises are made and if you are okay with those choices you've made then whatever.

All I've done is point out people who make these choices perpetuate a racist system and if they can live with that knowledge it's on them.

Like, seriously, what the fuck is with all of this defensiveness and hostility? Maybe I should really listen to the rules I've been mulling about and just not talk about this shit with white people.
posted by qcubed at 4:29 PM on January 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


All I've done is point out people who make these choices perpetuate a racist system and if they can live with that knowledge it's on them.

But you have not suggested that there exists any alternative choice that, in your view, would not perpetuate a racist system.
posted by The World Famous at 4:35 PM on January 12, 2016


I'm sorry this is unsatisfying to you.

I'm done. Take your win graciously.
posted by qcubed at 4:51 PM on January 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


As the problem stems from wealthy people grouping together to avoid poor people, the solution is pretty obvious. If you want to combat this, you need to stay where you are and work to improve your community. If you don't like your neighborhood or your school, do something about it. Participating in the "brain drain", "money sucking" and "white flight" makes you complicit.

Hand-wringing about what to do gets you nowhere. You know what to do. You just don't want to do it.
posted by domo at 3:06 PM on January 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


Domo, I don't understand that suggestion in the context of someone who moves to a new city for a job. What is the non-complicit way to decide?
posted by The World Famous at 5:24 PM on January 13, 2016


Oh, fuck that. I do not have to stay near the projects all my life just because some bougie urbanite thinks that my bettering my life and that of my family is some kind of "brain drain." This is why the whole concept of "allyship" is bullshit .- because it doesn't listen to what people actually want and just involves a shit ton of white knighting.
posted by corb at 7:39 PM on January 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


This tangent started when The World Famous asked where the contempt is coming from, and people have tried to explain where it's coming from. Nobody's saying anyone else has to do anything, but because the nature of the problem involves people with money clustering together and keeping their money in their communities, I don't think it's unreasonable for others to retain their right to criticize that choice because it hurts others.

Go ahead and pursue your rational self-interest, just don't kvetch when someone else thinks it's hurting society.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:57 PM on January 13, 2016 [7 favorites]


As the problem stems from wealthy people grouping together to avoid poor people, the solution is pretty obvious.

I don’t think this is the problem at all. I find the self selecting racial makeup of neighborhoods to be a useful indicator in some cases. In a couple of cities I know there are specific areas that aren’t just "white middle class and up" but more distinctly "this is where you live if you don’t want to live around brown people". It’s instructive to know who chooses to live there, doesn’t mean I have to hate them.

People will self segregate, I don’t know of any reasonable way to stop them or what that would accomplish. The problem is not where people choose to live, it’s trying to make the distribution of resources as equitable as possible. Pay your damn taxes people. Quit making it so that nicer neighborhoods get better services. You want nicer schools, everyone should get nicer schools.
posted by bongo_x at 8:09 PM on January 13, 2016


The problem is not where people choose to live, it’s trying to make the distribution of resources as equitable as possible.

It's not either/or, though. Both forces exacerbate the inequality, it's just that one has to be changed through the political process, while one is basically up to the whims of people voting with their feet and deciding where they want to live.

As I said above, I think it's more practical to focus on the brokenness of the system as you seem to be suggesting here, but it's also true that everyone participating in that system has agency, and can make better choices for society as a whole if they want to, and that's how I'm reading the comments of qcubed and others.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:29 PM on January 13, 2016 [6 favorites]


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