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I think it’s messed up that Tier One cities that are exemplars of progressive, urban planning are predominantly white. What about other bustling, multiracial metropolitan centers such as New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles? Okay, granted, public transportation in the City by the Bay leaves a lot to be desired, but there’s a thriving bike culture and measured growth policy that takes into account issues of sustainability.
Among the media, academia and within planning circles, there’s a generally standing answer to the question of what cities are the best, the most progressive and best role models for small and mid-sized cities. The standard list includes Portland, Seattle, Austin, Minneapolis, and Denver. In particular, Portland is held up as a paradigm, with its urban growth boundary, extensive transit system, excellent cycling culture, and a pro-density policy. These cities are frequently contrasted with those of the Rust Belt and South, which are found wanting, often even by locals, as “cool” urban places.
But look closely at these exemplars and a curious fact emerges. If you take away the dominant Tier One cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles you will find that the “progressive” cities aren’t red or blue, but another color entirely: white.
In fact, not one of these “progressive” cities even reaches the national average for African American percentage population in its core county. Perhaps not progressiveness but whiteness is the defining characteristic of the group.
Are urban planners dissing we that live in multiracial and “traditional” cities? Are we not cool enough for them?
What do you think?