Displacement for the Many and Homesteading for the Few
June 29, 2016 8:35 AM   Subscribe

"America has always been about displacement for the many and homesteading for the few. Our national optimism allows us to see this as easily as it allows us to deny it. We believe things can change. We believe they already have. We believe it’s up to us, and we believe it’s our fault if we can’t." Carvell Wallace writes about The Negro Motorist Green Book and Black America’s Perpetual Search For A Home for The Toast.
posted by ChuraChura (14 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Weird, the book was just featured in Dan Lewis's Now I Know newsletter yesterday.
posted by kevinbelt at 9:02 AM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm a little bit in love with this article. It helps that it's in large part about my neighborhood, of course. And because I've idly daydreamed about trying to figure out what was standing where the freeways are before the freeways got shoved through. but mainly I'm in love with it because of how clearly and accurately it describes how the processes of gentrification and displacement work over generations.

I mean anything I could say here would be inadequate, and I'm not the person to be saying it anyway. go read the article.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:30 AM on June 29, 2016 [6 favorites]

In The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson's non-fiction account of The Great Migration, one of the characters profiled was a doctor native to Louisiana, Robert Joseph Pershing Foster. He drove from Louisiana to Los Angeles in the early 50s, and there is a section detailing his increasingly desperate search for a motel that would rent him a room while driving across the desert. It's a really harrowing account that helps you understand why something like The Green Book would be so important to African-Americans traveling in America in the 20th Century.
posted by layceepee at 9:34 AM on June 29, 2016 [8 favorites]

Go read the article, which is great. Thanks for posting! (There's a typo about the square mileage of Oakland that stopped me dead, but that's a quibble.) It's a beautiful, informative heartbreaker. I knew about San Francisco's distraction of it's vital black community under the flag of urban renewal; had no idea Oakland had suffered the same fate.
posted by Bella Donna at 9:37 AM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Adding to the chorus of voices saying go read the article. It's very good.
posted by sunset in snow country at 9:40 AM on June 29, 2016

The Green Book: Previously
posted by HuronBob at 10:17 AM on June 29, 2016

Chapter Four of Cotton Seiler's Republic of Drivers has a really good discussion of the impact of the Green Books on African Americans.
posted by teleri025 at 10:27 AM on June 29, 2016

Also not to be missed, The Green Book episode of 99% Invisible. (Also not to be missed, every other episode of 99PI.)
posted by The Bellman at 10:48 AM on June 29, 2016

Local history burns down, Colorado Springs.
posted by buzzman at 11:13 AM on June 29, 2016

The History Palace podcast has a good segment about the Green Book.
posted by Fister Roboto at 11:28 AM on June 29, 2016

Thanks for posting that. Illuminating and beautifully written.
posted by asavage at 11:39 AM on June 29, 2016

A fictionalized version of The Green Book figures prominently in Matt Ruff's Lovecraft Country, a series of interconnected novellas about racism and also Eldritch horrors. It's a fun read but also really helps illustrate why something like the guide was so desperately needed.
posted by WidgetAlley at 12:57 PM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Weird, the book was just featured in Dan Lewis's Now I Know newsletter yesterday.

Also brought up just a few days ago in the AirBnB discrimination thread (see first comment).
posted by effbot at 6:39 PM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

It took me a little bit to get to the browser tab that I left sitting open on this article and I am so glad I did! To be honest I probably would have gotten to it sooner had I not focused on the first half of the title--"The Negro Motorist Green Book" left me expecting your garden variety Black History Month sort of piece--but then it turns out the travel guide itself is really just the framework that guides, or the box that contains, this poignant rumination on "Black America’s Perpetual Search For A Home."
posted by drlith at 5:33 AM on July 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

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