Girl Gone Planning: Fear Mongering in the Suburbs

If you've been watching the Republican National Convention this week, you may have noticed a recurring theme of speakers who have been speaking in apocalyptic terms about how the Democrats and Joe Biden want to destroy "your quiet neighborhoods", abolish single-family homes, and let gangs move in next door.

The sentinel speakers on this topic were Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the white couple who pulled guns on a group of BLM protesters who were marching through their neighborhood. The McCloskey's claim that they were merely protecting their home, but the protesters state that they didn't leave the sidewalk/street. Patricia McCloskey warned that the Democrats were going to end the suburbs as we know it by ending single-family zoning by stating “This forced rezoning would bring crime, lawlessness, and low-quality apartments into now-thriving suburban neighborhoods.” This statement is flat-out untrue and is maddening. Zoning in the US is mainly handled at the local level and to abolish it on the Federal level would require either a constitutional amendment or by forcing states and municipalities to change their laws through some other mechanism. There isn't an imaginable way that this would happen, even if Biden wins in a landslide, because there isn't even support for this in his own party.

The RNC decided that the McCloskey's were the perfect martyrs in which to warn suburban (mainly white) voters that Biden's America will end their way of life. What's odd is that the McCloskey's don't actually live in the suburbs, they live in an upscale neighborhood of St. Louis close to nearby denser neighborhoods. Trump has also spent most of the campaign warning of how dire life will be in Biden's America by showing videos of protests and riots taking place in Trump's America.

Housing is one of the many reasons why we are here today witnessing these historic protests. Before the pandemic happened, average white household wealth was $171,000. For black families, that number was just $17,000, 10 times less. There are many reasons for this, but a big reason is that discriminatory housing policies prevented blacks from obtaining mortgages and even when they could, many neighborhoods were out of reach because of redlining, where banks wouldn't approve loans to blacks in certain neighborhoods. Because wealth in the US for middle-class families is overwhelmingly passed down by inheriting property and homes, the mistakes of the past echo through generations to the present because many black families are forced to be renters and don't have the same access to being owners as whites. All Over Albany put together a piece on redlining on Albany back in 2017 and examines how the practice led to Albany being the city I call home today.

The debate over Black Lives Matter, housing policy, healthcare, economic and environmental justice, and urban planning are all converging this year as people realize that to fix one you must fix them all.

In the next few weeks I plan to follow-up on this with my thoughts on white liberals and their sometimes contradictory actions.