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Archive: Manuel Pastor

Race and Our Metropolitan Future

Manuel Pastor / Jul 01 2010

For Release Sunday, July 4, 2010
Citiwire.net

Mary NewsomAmerica is changing: we have a black president, increasing diversity in the ranks of the nation’s CEOs, and a new generation seemingly at ease with racial and other differences. And a lot more change is in the works: by 2042, the county will be majority-minority, by 2023 the majority of those under the age of 18 will be youth of color, and this year or next will the first (but not the last) in which the majority of births in the U.S. will be to black, Latino and Asian parents.

It’s enough to make pundits wax about a new “post-racial” era in which race and ethnicity are less salient as social and political categories. But despite what is surely a startling shift in attitudes (Tea Party undertones notwithstanding), the income gap between African Americans and Latinos on the one hand and whites on the other has remained stable since the mid-1970s, even as the recent wave of foreclosures has shattered the wealth of those homeowners, disproportionately of color, who came late to the housing boom.

So why, then, the “post-racial” appeal? Part of it, of course, stems from the hope that some of America’s thorniest problems — the residues of slavery, Jim Crow, and racially restrictive immigration laws — will just go away. Part of it is that race is difficult to talk about: whites with the best intentions worry that they will say the wrong thing while people of color resent it when they are seen through the sole prism of their skin and not their full identities.
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Regional Equity: Exciting Cause, But Greater Than It Seems

Manuel Pastor / May 28 2009

For Release Sunday, May 31, 2009
Citiwire.net

Manuel Pastor It’s always great to complete a new book. And my new co-authored volume — This Could be the Start of Something Big: How Social Movements for Regional Equity are Reshaping Metropolitan America — is surely no exception.

But this book feels particularly satisfying because — oddly enough — it’s not the book we meant to write.

I’d set out out three years ago to catalog “best practices” in the field of regional equity — the various attempts by non-profits, government agencies, and some business leaders to insure that all communities get to share in successful regional economies. Joining in the research adventure were two long-time colleagues — Chris Benner, previously the research director at Working Partnerships, a labor-affiliated think tank in the Silicon Valley, and Martha Matsuoka, now a professor but once an environmental justice organizer for Urban Habitat in the San Francisco Bay Area.

All three of us had been early proponents of regional equity. Chris helped to push for living wage laws in San Jose. Martha worked for regional tax-sharing in the Bay Area. And I collaborated with L.A.-based groups to place inner city youth in jobs in the entertainment industry. Along with such groups as PolicyLink in Oakland, we had been boosters of mutually supportive regional connections. And we were all starting to feel a bit guilty.

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Best Futures for America Bubble Up from Our Regions

Manuel Pastor, Jr. / Dec 04 2008

For Release Sunday, December 7, 2008
Citiwire.net

Manuel Pastor It is the best of times, it is the worst of times. We have elected the first president in decades from urban America–and he seems to get the regionalist mantra. Running a campaign that tied together voters from cities and suburbs, he promoted a metropolitan prosperity agenda in place of the usual anti-poverty bromides. He coupled that with a commitment to social justice born from his early experience working for an interfaith group that was part of the Gamaliel Foundation, a network that has “regional equity” at the heart of its community organizing.

Yet, the incoming president also faces a tough economy and a propensity for some to say that smart planning for social inclusion is a luxury we can ill afford in a time of economic crisis. This is exactly wrong: we are only as strong as our weakest link. And there’s little doubt that the distributional excesses of the last decade are at least partly to blame for the mess we are in.

It is tempting to put inclusion to one side. Traditional economic theory has often posed a seemingly intractable trade-off between economic efficiency and social equity, suggesting what’s good for one may be bad for another. In hard times like these, business and politicians argue, the constraint is especially tight: we need to celebrate the creation of any job. Read More »