Friday, February 24, 2006

Race, crime and ethnic cleansing in American cities

Steve Sailer:

Then, two great migrations put huge stresses on non-Southern cities and overwhelmed housing integration. The first was the black migration that kicked into overdrive during WWII, especially following the mechanization of cotton-picking. This sent a lot of the more unskilled Southern blacks north. Then, when northern states raised their welfare payments in the early 1960s, this attracted a particularly feckless, and crime-prone group of Southern blacks.

Then, the Latin American influx (first Puerto Ricans in the 1940s and 1950s in NYC, then Mexicans everywhere else) overwhelmed integration.

The point is, however, that ethnically stable cities can often work out reasonable solutions. But when the ethnic balance is rapidly tipping, bad things can happen, as in the formerly black areas of Los Angeles that are being ethnically cleansed by Hispanics, where racial gang violence is widespread (as reflect in the recent LA jail riots between blacks and Latinos).

My in-laws saw the dire effects of rapid ethnic change first hand, to their intense cost. My late father-in-law was a classical musician and union leader and my late mother-in-law was a public school special ed teacher. When their working class neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago started to integrate around 1966, many of their friends told them to sell out as soon as possible, before the neighborhood tipped to all black.

But, as good liberals, they believed in integration. And the first blacks moving in were middle class. So, they joined an anti-tipping liberal group run by Father Edward McKenna (a classical composer who has written a couple of operas with librettos by Father Andrew Greeley), where neighborhood homeowners swore to each other they wouldn't sell no matter how black the neighborhood got.

Well, the crime rate, which had been non-existent when the neighborhood was all white, started to soar, housing prices fell, and pretty soon the middle class blacks were selling out because underclass blacks were moving in. The members of the pro-integration group started to break their promises and move out. My in-laws stuck with their vows. But, then in 1968, black rioters looted all the stores in the neighborhood after Martin Luther King was murdered, and their small children were mugged three times. So, they finally sold, losing about half of their live savings, and bought a farm 65 miles out of town, where they didn't have indoor plumbing for two years.

The last time I visited their old neighborhood in the 1990s, it looked like a war zone, with about 1/3rd of the houses abandoned or torn down.

On the other hand, just to the west is the independent suburban municipality of Oak Park (Hemingway's hometown), which has perhaps the most architecturally distinguished domestic architecture in America, with dozens of Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie-style homes. There, with even more to lose, homeowners successfully resisted Oak Park tipping all black by instituting the "black a block" program in which real estate agents were only allowed to sell one home per block to blacks. It's completely illegal, but highly successful.

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