Where are the Black Urbanists?

Urbanism tends to be an interest of a small group: the young, the male, and the pale, according to Kristen E. Jeffers who wants to see more groups and more people of color engaged.
December 15, 2010, 7am PST | Nate Berg
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"I didn't realize that this behavior and interest had a name -- urbanism -- until recently. Now, I'm not a hard-core urbanist (Southerners have a natural aversion to paid parking lots and tolls), but still, I'd like to be able to walk around in peace. Bike to a nice full service grocery. Take the bus across town without shame. Get on the train and be in Raleigh in less time than it takes to get down I-40 East.

Problem is, when I look around, I mostly see only one type of person associated with the urbanist label: young, white, and male. Not many young, black, and female, like me. The word "urban," when it's associated with African-Americans, is often synonymous with housing projects, poverty, and the poisoned legacy of urban renewal. Over the years, as various government-sponsored and social ills crept into our neighborhoods, our sense of community died."

Jeffers argues that urbanism isn't just bike lanes and TOD, but rather community-focused issues that people anywhere should be able to relate to or take interest in.

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Published on Tuesday, December 14, 2010 in Grist
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