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It's Not the Gentrification, It's the Resegregation

Author Jeff Chang talks about why gentrification isn’t the perfect lens for looking at the geography of race in the U.S., but Beyoncé is.
relates to It's Not the Gentrification, It's the Resegregation
Susan Walsh/AP

Hip-hop journalist Jeff Chang released his third book, We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation, on September 13, a time in America when one could invest a good measure of faith in that title’s promise. The book rekindled the flame of optimism felt in Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 song of the same name—one of the premier anthems of the Black Lives Matter soundtrack. But ever since Donald Trump stepped in on November 9 and showed America who’s boss, that assurance has been cast in doubt.

And yet the second part of Chang’s book title—on race and resegregation— holds constant. The U.S. is, in many parts of the country, resegregating to levels not seen since before the Civil Rights Movement. As noted in a pivotal chapter of the book called “Vanilla Cities and Their Chocolate Suburbs,” the average white student attends a public school that is at least 75 percent white, and lives in a neighborhood that is at least 77 percent white. Meanwhile, people of color are moving (or being pushed out to) the suburbs, and more white people are moving into the city. This reverse migration is often accompanied by the class and racial displacement of gentrification.