How Racism and the Conservative Movement Crush the American Rust Belt
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A monograph about how Rust Belt cities are struggling primarily because of racist (and often conservative) politicians.

Hackworth (Geography and Planning/Univ. of Toronto; Faith Based: Religious Neoliberalism and the Politics of Warfare in the United States, 2012, etc.) is no ideologue. His extensive academic research led him to what seems an undeniable conclusion: that certain elected and appointed politicians, in city after city, have intentionally suppressed the futures of black residents (and other people of color) to bolster white supremacy. Detroit is perhaps the most egregious example of what the author terms “organized deprivation,” but he also looks at Saginaw and Flint, Michigan, Youngstown, Ohio, Rochester, New York, and other cities and towns. Permeating the narrative is the concept of blacks being viewed as “the other” by whites in power. Hackworth attacks scholars who believe that class differences, rather than racial differences, serve as the primary explanation for urban decline across the Rust Belt. To bolster his quantitative findings, the author explains how black residents have suffered due to overt, law-based discrimination; the flight of white residents and white-owned businesses from neighborhoods with a significant concentration of blacks; state legislatures approving budgets that starve so-called inner cities; actions by police and municipal fee collectors that harm black residents unduly; and judges in local courts who fail to rule in favor of illegal discrimination claims by black residents. Certain results are obvious, Hackworth states, especially the prevalence of substandard housing for blacks, plus widespread lack of employment opportunities that pay a livable wage. Hackworth includes 75 pages of endnotes and bibliographic references to back up his research findings, and the text is peppered with charts. Although some of it might prove difficult for nonacademics, it’s timely reading for troubled times.

Some scholarly jargon may limit the audience, but Hackworth provides a sturdy exploration of a continuing problem.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-231-19373-3
Page count: 344pp
Publisher: Columbia Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2019