Left behind in Rosedale: Race Relations and the Collapse of Community Institutions

Left behind in Rosedale: Race Relations and the Collapse of Community Institutions

Left behind in Rosedale: Race Relations and the Collapse of Community Institutions

Left behind in Rosedale: Race Relations and the Collapse of Community Institutions

Synopsis

Left Behind in Rosedale is a stunning analysis of community and neighborhood decline. Through creative application of ethnographic analysis, participant observation, and in-depth interviews, Scott Cummings' unique book breathes human life into one of the most serious problems facing the nation's cities: the ghettoization of urban neighborhoods. Transcending demographic and statistical analysis, he vividly and passionately tells the story of ghettoization by explaining what happens to people's lives during the process of racial transition and change. Cummings takes the reader on a distressing historical journey, detailing the progressive decline of one community's culture. Along the way, he explains and explores the futile attempts of its white elderly residents to maintain their traditional way of life. He then moves to an examination of the black youth who victimize the elderly and explains the family and gang context of their actions. Moving full circle some fifteen years later,after the collapse of Rosedale is nearly complete, Cummings documents the similar plight facing the black elderly and details the grinding poverty that has enveloped the entire community. He concludes by evaluating the community's effort to revitalize itself and explains why these efforts failed. Cummings uses the case of Rosedale as a window to explore and critically evaluate the evolution of American urban policy over the past forty years. He concludes that many of our efforts to solve urban problems have actually made them worse. This book should be read by liberals and conservatives alike, neighborhood and community activists, politicians and reformers, urban planners of American cities, and citizens who want to know why government efforts to revitalize urban neighborhoods have accomplished so little.

Excerpt

FEW ISSUES HAVE GENERATED MORE CONTROVERSY in American cities than the racial integration of urban neighborhoods. Public officials, civic leaders, and civil rights activists have all struggled with the serious problems that accompany residential integration. Since the 1970s, "white flight," "block-busting," and "neighborhood racial transition and change" have all become familiar terms in both the academic and popular vocabulary. Racial transformation in urban neighborhoods is not a new topic for social scientists. The social science and planning literature abounds with the case studies and theoretical treatises describing the process of invasion and succession. Drawing from our accumulated knowledge of the topic, we know that residential transition from one group to another is seldom smooth or devoid of serious conflict.

Disputes among groups over control of urban space is not a recent problem or one limited to blacks and whites. American urban history was largely shaped by the dynamics of immigration and industrialization. The urban neighborhoods of Boston, Philadelphia, New York, and Chicago are rich in ethnic diversity and tradition. Because ethnic residential segregation was so prevalent in most major industrialized cities, strong ties developed between immigrant minorities and their neighborhoods. Little Italy, Poletown, and South End are all names reflecting ethnic allegiance to urban space and denoting a strongly developed sense of community and neighborhood. Historians inform us that the psychological sense of community among immigrant minorities was intensely felt and aggressively defended . . .

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