Lurking in the comments section to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ recent post about “The City as a Problem” is a discussion about gentrification in Columbia Heights. Here’s Ta-Nahesi’s response to one of his reader’s comments about the Green line, urban renewal and city planning:
It’s one thing to say “No black people can live here.” It’s quite another to say “People who are poor, a disproportionate number of whom are black, can’t live here.”
Moreover, I strongly suspect that social engineering and market forces aren’t actually producing the same results. I reported on local DC for several years, and I get back there pretty regularly. It’s certainly true that, say, Columbia Heights is a lot whiter than it used to be. But there are certainly black people there. (One of my best friends lives there as a matter of fact.)
I don’t think you can really expect black people to be shielded from America, itself. It’s not like only black neighborhoods get gentrified. As a Baltimore native, I can assure you that white people get pushed out to. But that’s very different than the state mandating that all white people be pushed out. The intent isn’t the same. Neither is the effect.
The whole thread discussion is worth a read.