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Truthdig Radio: Keep McChrystal Retired
Posted on Apr 13, 2011
Kasia Anderson: What was the lineup that you had for the top 10 cities? You don’t have to give them all…
Daniel Denvir: Los Angeles came in No. 10. Milwaukee was the most segregated urban area. And just a quick aside, I say “urban area” or “metropolitan area” instead of “city” because a big driver of segregation is that so many white people continue to live farther and farther away from cities, in exclusive suburbs that zone out affordable housing by having minimum lot sizes, by concentrating Section 8 housing in poor towns and cities. So that’s why we talk about segregated metropolitan areas rather than cities.
Kasia Anderson: But that includes those suburbs as well, or it doesn’t?
Daniel Denvir: Yes, yeah. So this data includes those suburbs. New York was No. 2. Detroit was also on the list, Chicago. You know, you see a lot of Rust Belt cities on the list, but you also … if you look at the top 30, top 40, which are all very segregated areas, you will also see Southern cities like Miami and New Orleans and … [states such as] Alabama.
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Daniel Denvir: You know, first of all, the reason that this matters … there’s the basic idea that diversity is a good thing, and that if we live in communities with different types of people we’ll be better off for it in a variety of intangible ways. But there’s also some very concrete, tangible reasons that integration is important. Where you live has a lot to do with what sort of opportunities you have. An integration activist, a black man, who lives in the Philadelphia suburb of Pennsauken, N.J., discussing why—making sure Pennsauken remained an integrated community, why it was so important for him, said—referring to his wife, who works at a bank—you know, if we lived in the city of Camden, the kids growing up in the city of Camden, who do they know who is going to help get them a summer internship or a summer job? Your health outcomes are lowered, your job opportunities are lowered, your schools are worse. So these are the concrete reasons. And what to do about it? Well, it does have something to do with preferences, but survey data actually shows that black Americans are far more willing to live in integrated neighborhoods than white Americans. So the same old obstacles continue to be in place.
Kasia Anderson: And so, just that we’re clear here, the data you were pulling from was talking about blacks and whites, specifically. So we don’t have included Hispanics, other ethnicities, right?
Daniel Denvir: Yeah and there’re … some places like New York and L.A. also have high rates of Latino-white segregation. But by and large, black and white segregation is a persistent and unique problem in the U.S. Some of the black-Latino segregation can be attributed to first-wave immigrants coming in and, for not very alarming reasons, finding it comfortable to live in neighborhoods where people are speaking their language, where they can access social networks. That becomes a problem if, three generations down the line, people in those communities don’t feel like they can move to other neighborhoods. And that’s what we continue to see when it comes to the neighborhoods and the choices, the housing choices that are offered to many black Americans.
Kasia Anderson: And did you just describe some of the reasons why the data you pulled was limited to blacks and whites? Do you have any other feelings about, you know, bringing in other groups as well, or would that just be too large a project?
Daniel Denvir: Well, you couldn’t have a list [Laughter], in that case. There would be … it would be three or four different top-10 lists, you know. You would have the area that’s most segregated Hispanic-white; the area that’s most segregated Asian-white. I focused on black-white because I do think that the history of racism, you know, from slavery, Jim Crow, into the exclusion of blacks from jobs and housing in the North, that that’s a special and unique problem that has to be dealt with still in the United States. So I think it does deserve special attention.
James Harris: Daniel, you talk specifically about the South; you spent a lot of time, I read your “Five Myths About the 10 Most Segregated [Metro Areas],” your kind of appendage to what you wrote originally. You wrote very beautifully about the South—a quote from your response to Southerners saying, hey, there’s no list of, there’s no cities from the South on here, so perhaps we are free of any blame for segregation—you write: “Conservative white politics are the culmination of a century of divide-and-conquer strategies by wealthy whites—efforts that have constantly frustrated efforts by poor blacks and whites to make common cause.” Let’s talk about this. Does it all come down to class? Is it rich against poor that’s perpetuating where people live? Or are there some other things at play here?
Daniel Denvir: I mean, I think that’s an extremely important point, whether you’re talking about the South or the North. In the South, a very clear history of divide-and-conquer tactics by wealthy agricultural and business interests; you know, every time there’s an effort of working-class whites and poor blacks to come together, that’s frustrated. And it’s frustrated through the politics of racism. And the same is very much true in the North, where you see that the neighborhoods that most violently resisted black people moving in, in Detroit and Chicago, and Philadelphia, were working-class white ethnic neighborhoods, the children and grandchildren of immigrants from Italy and Poland and other places, who themselves had a very tenuous hold on the American dream—came here for jobs, fought for them, unionized. And that pressure that starts with de-industrialization, with the outsourcing of jobs, leads people to hold very tight to the things that they’ve won. And yes, in the North as well we see white people blaming black people for the decline of Detroit. Well, black people didn’t destroy Detroit; you know, capital decided to abandon Detroit. That’s, I mean that’s the real crux of the matter.
James Harris: Interesting. And so, yeah, I think you see in a lot of municipalities—Oakland, Detroit—that phenomena proving true, where you had white flight and then later, when integration set in, you had black flight. And I wanted to ask you specifically about that black flight, about the fact that there are many black people who long to get out of Detroit, because Detroit has meant for them bad living, ghettoes and just a way of life they want to move away from. Where does that fall into these living trends? And so you get a lot of black people, as you said earlier, willing to integrate; but where does that phenomena, of how black people kind of tangle with the inner cities—how does that play into this?
Daniel Denvir: First of all, it really gets to an important matter here, which is that the very fact that our cities and suburbs are divided up into these different jurisdictional areas, each raising its own property taxes to pay for its own schools—you know, that we live in these extremely fragmented areas where by taking your tax dollars across this magical municipal line, you totally wash your hands of having to deal with the poor people that you left on the other end. So this idea that that is kind of fundamentally what allows that white flight to be possible. So in a city that’s in complete freefall, like Detroit, anyone who has the means is going to try to leave. And that’s what we saw over the last 10 years: a lot of people, largely black people, left Detroit for the suburbs. Detroit had one of the most significant drops in segregation nationwide over the last 10 years, but it’s really not cause for celebration, because it’s a result of the fact that black people were desperate to leave Detroit, and that the white people in some of these suburbs that blacks were moving into—themselves hit by job losses and economic crises—couldn’t afford to sell their house and move.
Kasia Anderson: We’ll have to direct our listeners to the actual Salon article, which is up with very handy colored charts. And thank you for your time. This is Daniel Denver, once again, speaking with us from Philadelphia. I’m Kasia Anderson, and James Harris also joined us for this talk. Thanks a lot, guys.
James Harris: Thank you.
Peter Scheer: This is Truthdig Radio. I’m Peter Scheer, and I’m speaking with Narda Zacchino, who collaborated on a book with Mary Tillman, the mother of Pat Tillman, called “Boots on the Ground by Dusk: Searching for Answers in the Death of Pat Tillman,” which is available at Blurb.com. She is also a former associate editor and vice president of the Los Angeles Times. Welcome.
Narda Zacchino: Thank you, Peter.
Peter Scheer: So, the reason we’re speaking today is because Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was previously in charge of the war in Afghanistan and was fired by President Barack Obama after the Rolling Stone article “The Runaway General” came out and revealed his conduct in a glaring light, is now back in the news because the same president has offered to have McChrystal head up a panel called Joining Forces, which is meant to … well, why don’t you explain?
Narda Zacchino: The panel is meant to kind of create a civilian-military link and help families of people in the military, to help the kids get an education, help the veterans get jobs; basically to help them transition back into society and to help them out, because so few of our citizens actually are in the military, and so few of them do suffer these terrible repercussions from being in the military. And so this is sort of to help share that burden and make more people aware of the burdens that people in the military and their families have.
Peter Scheer: So is it fair to say that you think this is, in general, a good idea but they’ve picked the wrong man to lead it?
Narda Zacchino: Well, I think it is a good idea to involve more people in helping veterans. I mean, we all know what a terrible job veterans’ hospitals do, and how soldiers are sort of forgotten when they come back from service. And I do think they need more help. I do. And I just think that the selection of McChrystal, who disrespected and caused such misery to the highest-profile military family in America—the family of Pat Tillman—is not deserving of this job. I thought he was deserving of being forced out of his position; I don’t think he’s an honorable man, I think he has a bad character. And I think he’s the wrong person for this job.
Peter Scheer: Well, can you explain why?
Narda Zacchino: Well, yes; he was even singled out in the investigation by the inspector general of the Pentagon who looked into Pat Tillman’s death. And the inspector general concluded that McChrystal was accountable for the inaccurate Silver Star award …
Peter Scheer: Let’s just back up a second and explain, in brief, what happened to Pat Tillman.
Narda Zacchino: OK. Pat Tillman was a professional football player with the Arizona Cardinals. And he enlisted after 9/11, but before we went into Iraq, to help America find Osama bin Laden and, you know, it was sort of … he just wanted to do his job for his country. His brother, who was a professional baseball player for the Cleveland Indians … team also enlisted. So this family gave two sons to the war effort. Pat and his brother both felt very strongly that America’s military should be populated by people, not just people who have no other options in life—you know, who can’t get jobs, are out of work, or whatever, not educated—but by people like them, who are highly educated and do have options. So he gave up his $3-million-a-year professional football job to go into the military.
Peter Scheer: Right.
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