Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Kevin Fox Gotham

Went to see Kevin Fox Gotham at Rockhurst last night. Had to read his book, Race, Real Estate and Uneven Development for a couple different classes for Urban Studies over the years. It's a fabulous book and a must-read for anyone who cares about the development of the Kansas City MSA and its role in the segregation and racial degradation that continues to exist in our city today. But having read his book, attending an event that was geared towards an academic audience, and having basic knowledge of the choices and practices of the real estate industry over the years - such as redlining and blockbusting, which are virtual stars in his book - I was kinda disappointed in the content of his lecture. I have copious notes from the event, and I believe that as long as there are still issues that continue today - somebody better be talking about them - but come on, give us something to think about. Bring something new to the table.
He could have started by saying that the first step to erasing the legacy of state- sanctioned racial segregation is to overcome the 'great hurdles' of eradicating Racially Restrictive Covenants on people's property. I don't get what is so hard about this. I have a lot to learn about deeds, covenants, ownership, etc - I understand that. But houses are bought and sold every day with property rights attached to them - are we saying that these are not ammendable? Are we saying that there is no way around changing such a horrible, hurtful, and degrading choice of a man 75, 100 years ago. Or are we saying it's just not worth it? Shelley vs. Kraemer made these restrictions unenforcible 60 years ago. That changed a whole culture. I just want to change a couple words. And if there are still bigoted bitter home-owners that want to keep these words of hate and intolerance in their land - I want them to have to fight for it.
He did say that the big challenge is to get people to look at our problems of uneven development and segregation of schools as a metropolitan issue rather than a localized, 'urban' problem. He said that all cities in the metro need a housing policy - so that affordable housing, and problems associated with providing it and dispersing it, become that of the whole MSA and not just the already-struggling inner city. He did say that we must be environmentally and ecologically responsible in our development. He did say that people have gotten around illegal racial segregation by holding on the the sanctioned class segregation that is upheld in the suburbs. He said good things. He always has. There was just nothing new.
But I must say it was a damn good book report - and he looked good delivering it. I'd see it again. But would rather a sequel than a re-run. Maybe I'll have to go to New Orleans to get his new shit. Anyone up for a road trip?


Shicho said...

i used to love new orleans and, pre-katrina - would have jumped at the chance to road-trip it back down there.

it is not the same now. it broke my heart and i won't go back again. the reasons are many, obvious, subtle, nefarious and overwhelming.

Dan said...

I'll go - it's a beautiful, lively, regrowing town, with style like no other city in the world.

It's not the same as it was before Katrina. For that matter, KC, St. Louis, Tokyo, and Mumbai have changed since then, too.

thepaintman said...

I agree New Orleans in not the same again after Katrina. I was there before but probably will never go back.

Redlining is also done by auto insurance.

BoomerBust said...

Did he address the issue of the State Line and the problem that creates for a metropolitan solution to this issue. Cross the State Line (to JoCo) and you never have to deal with the problem again.

KC Sponge said...

Well, BoomerBust - it's exactly what he addressed by saying that we, as a metropolitan area (the ones of us who tell people from out of town that we're from 'Kansas City') need to see problems of the area as exactly that - problems of the area. Just because you've got your kid ensconced in a Blue Valley school, or that you never cross state line without your bullet proof vest and eyes in the back of your head, or don't have to worry about property upkeep because because developers and landlords in Johnson County LIVE in Johnson County - does not mean its not your problem. You have to deal with it. You watch it on the news every night. The sustainability of your comfy little suburb relies on the sustainability of our metropolitan area. Johnson County is nothing without Kansas City proper, just as Kansas City proper is nothing - well, not enough - without Liberty, or Leawood, or Lenexa. Until we develop some kind of metro-wide boards (with more teeth than MARC), and some sort of idea of community that expands beyond our neighborhood, our school district, or our precious little county, no significant change will be possible.
I believe that the thing that holds us back is that we all take sides. 'South' Overland Park, 'North' of the River, 'East' of Troost, 'Good' side of state line. It's the lines we draw and the boundaries we set that hold us back from greatness, that make us feel like we're supposed to be fighting against each other.
I guess you can cross the state line and never deal with the problem again. But, oh my word, how much you'd miss.

I'm taking in all the happenings in Kansas City and saving you all the trouble . . . I'll let you know whether to soak it up or squeeze it out!!