Health, Race, and Housing: Three Perspectives on Urban Inequality

Colloquium | April 24 | 4-6 p.m. | Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, Duster Conference Room

 2420 Bowditch Street, Berkeley, CA 94720

 Zawadi Rucks-Ahidiana, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Sociology, and Graduate Fellow, Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, UC Berkeley; Melody Tulier, DrPH Candidate, School of Public Health, and Graduate Fellow, Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, UC Berkeley; Cynthia Ledesma, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Ethnic Studies, and Graduate Fellow, Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, UC Berkeley

 Malo André Hutson, Chancellor's Professor, City and Regional Planning, UC Berkeley

 Institute for the Study of Societal Issues

ISSI's Graduate Fellows Program presents:

Zawadi Rucks-Ahidiana, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Sociology, and Graduate Fellow, Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, UC Berkeley

Melody Tulier, DrPH Candidate, School of Public Health, and Graduate Fellow, Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, UC Berkeley

Cynthia Ledesma, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Ethnic Studies, and Graduate Fellow, Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, UC Berkeley

with Malo André Hutson, Chancellor's Professor of City and Regional Planning, UC Berkeley as respondent

Zawadi Rucks-Ahidiana | "Race and Class in the News: How the Media Portrays Gentrification"

Whether it’s affordable housing, health insurance, or crime, how a social problem is raced and classed in common discourse contributes to how problems are interpreted and reacted to by the general public and policymakers. The media both informs and reinforces readers’ perceptions about what happens when social processes like gentrification take place, who is affected, and whether this type of change is positive or negative. Media representations can thus influence public perception, policy framing, and local policies around urban development. This paper uses newspaper articles from 1990 to 2014 from San Francisco, CA to document how the process of gentrification is raced and classed. Using text analysis and qualitative coding, I find that gentrification is usually described as a process involving black and low-income neighborhoods experiencing a recent in-movement of white and middle-class residents. While articles that discussed both race and class presented benefits and concerns about the process of gentrification, articles that discussed class alone were most likely to raise concerns about gentrification and articles that only discussed race were more likely to present benefits of gentrification. Given the prevalence of depictions of predominately black and low-income neighborhoods, this suggests that Americans may see gentrification as a solution to social ills associated with black and poor neighborhoods such as urban disinvestment and crime, rather than a process reducing affordable housing and displacing low-income, long-term residents.

Melody Tulier | "The Puzzle of Gentrification and Preventable Mortality: An Exploratory Study Based in Alameda County"

Gentrification, a process of economic and demographic shifts within neighborhoods, changes a neighborhood’s economic, social, and physical resources, which are critical to resident health outcomes. While some argue gentrification improves public services, neighborhood aesthetics and community safety, others contend it catalyzes displacement of long-term residents and loss of health protective social networks. Is the rate of preventable death changing over time among long-term residents in low-income census tracts of varying stages of gentrification within Alameda County? In the context of gentrification, preventable deaths include those where: a limited time of exposure is necessary to result in death, the illnesses are easily treatable or acuity is modifiable, and resources necessary for modification are plausible within neighborhoods experiencing gentrification. Rates of preventable mortality are quantified by census tract using individual cause of death data for all deceased individuals in Alameda County from 2005 – 2013. The association between stages of gentrification and preventable mortality in Alameda County is then examined. This research helps to illuminate current macro-level forces exacerbating or mitigating health inequities and moves beyond traditional individual level behavior measures that stymie policy change.

Cynthia Ledesma | "Gaging the Color-line: Segregation, Space-making and the Zone of Non-being"

Chicago served as a major port of entry for waves of migrants throughout the 20th century. After decades of European migration, the arrival of Mexicans and African-Americans in the early and mid 20th century profoundly altered the racial landscape of the burgeoning metropolis. Using the decennial census on population and housing data and archival materials, including newspaper articles and interviews, from 1960-2000, I examine two neighborhoods on Chicago’s southwest side, Gage Park and Chicago Lawn, during a period of intense racial turmoil impelled by efforts to desegregate housing and schooling. I briefly examine the historical relationship between African-American and Mexican newcomers vis-à-vis white long-term residents to contextualize the processes of differential racialization and incorporation into a local racial schema. Using a Fanonian conceptualization of racism, I argue that African-American and Mexican racialization, while displaying strikingly different overt and covert characteristics, relegated both groups to a geo-political “zone of non-being.”

 issi@berkeley.edu, 510-642-0813