White Privilege Continues to Influence Us Today

White Privilege Continues to Influence Us Today

Reading “White Kids: Growing Up with Privilege in a Racially Divided America” made me realize that this described my own childhood.  Like the children in the book, I had no idea that I was a product of these privileges.  I went to a private school until high school.  Many of my classmates in elementary school were white.   There were only two African American students in my class.  It was almost unbearable to read about the choices people make to live in a predominately white neighborhood. My family never discussed white privilege.  My parents felt that they were making the best decisions for us and our future.

Continue reading “White Privilege Continues to Influence Us Today”

Photo 1

Robert Doyle

SOCY 402-001

Photo Submission 1

September 8, 2019

Two Courts, Two Miles

The picture is a composition of two pictures of two very different tennis courts.  These courts are within two miles of each other, but their appearances are completely.  One of the tennis courts is located on the VCU Monroe campus.  This tennis court is well maintained, clean and often in use by the students.  The other tennis court is in a school area in a poorer African American neighborhood.  That tennis court is dilapidated with weeds growing on the court.  No matter when you drive by this court, it is not in use.  These two courts are only two miles apart, but the differences are huge.  This picture speaks to the stereotype responses of color-blindness in America.

The first assumption is that the dominant race in this neighborhood does not value the opportunity of tennis courts. This could be a completely true assumption.  Tennis is traditionally been a sport for wealthy, white Americans.  Only recently has the sport been dominated by other races.  The unused tennis court is a picture of the Caucasian culture making assumptions of what would be a value to another culture.  Those who donated this money probably felt that they had done a great service for this community.  This is an example of white privilege making assumptions about another race from their own values.  This picture says that no one asked the community what they would value or want in their neighborhood.   That is why Critical Race Theory and counter storytelling is important.  It would have been important to hear the stories of those who live in the area and what they value.  Rather than the money going to a tennis court, it could have been used to get better school equipment or supplies.  What this picture says is that no one was asked the question or valued input from their culture.

The tennis courts on the VCU property show another side.  These courts are well maintained and used often.  The picture shows that they are valued and important to the VCU community.  This is an example of those who can afford to go to college have many advantages over those who can’t.  VCU is an intercity campus which is made up of many races.  It focuses on helping the students appreciate those from other races and minorities. The VCU students would probably assume that they are all culturally sensitive to other races.  The readings tell a different story and make us question if we truly do accept other races.

The reason for so much poverty can be traced through American history.  The African American culture and other minorities had severe disadvantages.  There were the Jim Crow laws and red lining forcing minorities into communities of poverty.  Although these laws are no longer in affect, they still influence minorities today.  Red lining is still a problem today throughout the United States.   Because there are more people of color in politics today, America assumes that there is no longer a race problem.  This is a prime example of colorblindness.  Now white America just ignores the past and assumes that everyone except for the very ignorant are accepting of other races.  This could not be further from the truth.  By pretending that the problem doesn’t exist, we continue to promote it.

Of all the articles, the most impactful were the counter stories.  Therefore, the pictures of the two tennis courts symbolize how we can look at something every day and ignore the meaning.    It is easier today to be unaware of racism because America feels that it has made great strides since the Civil War era and slavery.  Unfortunately, we can not ignore how the past has shaped our future.  Now it is more subtle and harder to recognize.  We can not truly understand another culture unless we listen to their story. Just like the two tennis courts, you must do more than just look at the surface.  Only then, can you begin to get some understanding on what is important to another culture.

Blog 12

Robert Doyle

SOCY 327-Urban Sociology


  1. What did you most like about this course? What will you most remember from this course?


I enjoyed all the readings and the videos.  I have always enjoyed Ted Talks and found these very informative.  It was very interesting to see different news reports and see how all the areas that we discussed are still problems today.


  1. What could make the course better? What could I do as a professor to make your experience better?


Sometimes the amount of reading was overwhelming, but it was all relevant.  As a professor, you did a great job.  You were incredibly supportive and positive during the online experience.


  1. With parameters of a 15-week course, what’s another topic you wish we had been able to cover?

I couldn’t think of another topic.  I think this would be a difficult course to cover in summer school because there is a lot of information.  It takes the entire semester to cover this material.

  1. Are there any topics within the course that you found interesting? Boring? Leaving out? Doing more?

The topic of education is very important.  I did my second paper on it, so I read a lot outside of the class.  None of it was boring. It made me think differently about many things.  It made me appreciate all that I have.

  1. What did you like/not about the cities of focus?


I would like to have seen more focus on Richmond and surrounding areas.  Often, the big cities get more attention.  Many of the same problems are happening in our city.


  1. Experience with Instagram?


I liked doing the Instagram.  I appreciated the fact that you didn’t make us comment on others’ posts.  I have done that in other classes and I always pick those that are good, so I don’t know if it is useful information.



  1. Exams?


I am not a fan of exams.  I always get anxious prior to them and don’t think that they really measure what I have learned.  I think a final third paper would be better than a final exam but that is me.


  1. Final thoughts


I really did learn a lot in this course.  It was a lot of reading and a lot of papers.  I do best when I put my thoughts on paper, so I didn’t mind.  I am a thinker by nature, so the course made me think.

instagram is coghere22

Blog 11

Robert Doyle

SOCY 327

Week 13-Blog 11


Three Myths about Crime

Myth 1

One of the biggest myths is that violent crime is increasing in America.  This is not true. According to the FBI violent crime has decreased by about 49% in the last quarter century. This is according to “Five Facts About Crime in the U. S.”

According to the  “New York Crime Rate and Statistics”  “Based on this report, the crime rate in New York for 2019 is expected to be lower than in 2016 when the state violent crime rate was lower than the national violent crime rate average by 5.25% and the state property crime rate was lower than the national property crime rate average by 36.93%.”

Myth 2

Most crimes are not reported to police, and most reported crimes are not solved. This is not true. Most crimes are reported to the police. “In 2017, police nationwide cleared 46% of violent crimes that were reported to them.”  This is according to “Five Facts About Crime in the U. S.”

Myth 3

Most crimes are solved by fingerprints and DNA.  This is not true.  Less than one percent of all crimes are solved this way.  It would be difficult to solve a crime if the fingerprints are not on file.  This is probably a myth that is perpetuated by movies and media.  According to “Why the U. S. Needs Better Crime Reporting Statistics”, we need better metrics to report and solve crimes.

Five Myths about Immigration

Myth 1

“Immigrants are overrunning our country, and most are here illegally.”

According to “Myths and Facts about Immigrants and Immigrations,” “In 2016, there were 10.7 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., or less than 3.5 percent of the nation’s population. This represents a significant decrease (13%) from the 12.2 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. in 2007 and is the lowest total since 2004.”

Myth 2

“Immigrants bring crime and violence to our cities and towns.”

“According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, while the overall percentage of immigrants and the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. both increased sharply between 1990 and 2010, the violent crime rate in the U.S. during that time plummeted 45 percent and the property crime rate dropped by 42 percent.”

Myth 3

“Immigrants hurt our country financially by taking jobs and services without paying taxes.”

“Immigrants collectively pay between $90 and $140 billion each year in taxes, and a recent study found that undocumented immigrants alone pay approximately $11.64 billion in taxes each year.”

Myth 4

“Immigrants are coming to the U.S. to obtain welfare and other benefits.”

“According to a 2018 study by the CATO Institute, eligible immigrants use 27% fewer benefits relative to U.S. natives of similar incomes and ages.”

Myth 5

“Immigrants are bringing diseases into the U.S.”

“According to the World Health Organization, 113 countries, including many countries in Latin America, have higher vaccination rates for 1-year-olds than the U.S.”

All these myths were found to be untrue in the article, “Myths and Facts about Immigrants and Immigration”.

Data Analysis

In the City Rating Statistics, you can set the data points for crime and violence.  You can determine which city and then set up for violent crimes; such as, rate or murder.  Unfortunately, it is easy to take these data points out of context.  “The source of actual data on this national crime rate report is the FBI Report of Offenses Known to Law Enforcement for the corresponding year or years.”  The FBI does warn people about making assumptions just based on these comparisons. The crimes are reported per 100,000 people.  In New York, three hundred and thirty-five murders happened per one hundred thousand people.  You can see rapes, violent crimes and property crimes.  Unfortunately, these facts do not give the context to the figures.  When you look at murder, it does not say where or who or what they were doing.  The violent crime does not distinguish between a punch and a stabbing.  Decisions should not be made based on these few data points.  The same is true of the other cities that we have looked at this semester.

Deportation is also a problem.  It gives you the data about the state they were deported from.  You can narrow it down to where they were deported to.  It also lists crimes.  It is done by calendar month or year and can be given in a number or percentage.  This is such a global view.  It is hard to make decisions based on this data.  I think the documentaries about the people who were fearing deportation is much more meaningful than just the numbers.

Stop and Frisk

This is a practice that is very common in New York City.  The police will stop people to check for weapons or other things and temporary detain them in jail.  They will question random civilians for any illegal items.  The supporters of this practice say that it saves lives by stopping criminals before they have committed crimes.  However, this program overwhelmingly targets minorities.  In 2017, ten percent of the people who were stopped by police were African Americans or Latinos.  About seventy percent of the people who were stopped were innocent.

An example of this would be Tyquan Brehon who was stopped by the police over sixty times before his eighteenth birthday.  He was handcuffed and placed in a cell even though he was doing nothing wrong, the police still detained him.  This caused him serious mental problems.  Because of this, he did behaviors that would get him expelled from school. It is not hard to believe that he would have problems with authority and police.  The problem with Stop and Frisk is that it supports structural racism.  Minorities are targeted to keep them down since police activity and violence is concentrated in minority impoverished areas.

The feature documentary “Stop-Challenging NYPD’s Stop and Frisk”, follows the life of David Ourlicht.  He was one of the four people who challenged the legality of this activity.  One of the things that stand out to me from the film is how the police handle citizen whom they frisked on the street.  They didn’t care about the rights of the people or their civil liberty. They were treated like common criminals. The statements of the lead attorneys, police officers and even the Mayor Bloomberg shows that the city was completely divided.

Deportation and Sanctuary Cities

A sanctuary city is a city that limits their cooperation with deportation authorities.  This should be a safe city that would prevent their immigrants from being deported.  Most of the cities do this by prohibiting I.C.E. from detaining immigrants for extended periods of time.  San Francisco is one of the largest sanctuary cities.  New York and Chicago are also large sanctuary cities.  Many communities have come together and decided to protect immigrants. This is especially seen in faith-based communities.   Immigrants can claim sanctuary in churches to protect them from I. C. E. since they believe that they are upholding their faith by protecting their people.


My biggest take away from the readings is the problems with Stop and Frisk.  It is hard to believe that the police who are supposed to protect people can treat minorities with such disregard.  They are trampling the rights and terrorizing vulnerable communities.  I would tell people that this practice goes against the very principals of America.  America was founded by people from another country. It is commonly referred to as the “melting pot”.  It is just unethical to continue this practice.

Blog 10

Robert Doyle

SOCY 327

Week 12, Blog 10


My name is Robert Doyle and I am a student at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va.  I am very interested in pursuing an internship with you during the summer.  I am getting my degree in Sociology and have developed an interest in urban education.  I am currenting taking a course in Urban Sociology and it has opened my eyes to the multiple problems with our urban cities.  Prior to this course, I did not have a full understanding of the plight of our urban cities.  My experience with education has been completely different in what I have read of our poorer urban youths.  I feel more empathy for poor neighborhoods and am completely overwhelmed by their disadvantages.  It does seem to be fair to have such a huge difference depending on where you live.  I hope to continue to learn more on how I can help to improve these conditions.   It is also unfair that the color of your skin can influence your educational opportunities.  Thank you for considering my application.


According to “Three Charts Showing You Poverty in Large Cities and Metro Areas”, The ACS reported that in 2016, 14.0 percent of the U.S. population lived below the poverty line, down from 14.7 percent in 2015.”  Large metro areas had more significant drops than the suburbs.  New Orleans is another example of concentrated poverty ten years after Hurricane Katrina.  There has been a lot of emphasize on cities, but the data shows that are pushing the poverty out to the suburbs.  We need to continue to look at what the reasons behind the data and not just at the numbers.  Another example is New York.  As neighborhoods are bought and improved, the wealthy people are moving in.  People who grew up in the neighborhood can no longer afford to live there.  On the surface, the improvements seem like a good thing but if they push out lower socioeconomic families, they have not addressed the issues. The rising cost of housing and rent becomes an issue for the current tenants.   It seems that the U. S. is just moving the problem to another area. This leads to less resources for the schools and other public areas.  This leads to more problems.  There needs to be a systematic overhaul to help the impoverished areas.

Urban Education:

I believe that Dr. Noguera said it best when he stated that the only way to address the state of education in the U. S. was to address the social inequality.  It is not a simple problem of race.  According to Dr. Noguera, we must look the backgrounds of the children.  This would include the family income, education, neighborhood support and the schools themselves.  Do the schools have adequate resources to include competent teachers?  Unfortunately, there is still significant lack of African Americans and Latinos in higher education.  This is especially evident in how these males are viewed by our society.  There is an organization that is helping this.  It is the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color.  Unfortunately, the high cost of tuition for colleges are going to be a detriment to lower income students.  These biggest problems will continue to be access and cost.


Social stratification is class separation that is determined by wealth, power and prestige.   Marx view of social stratification was two classes.  There was the proletariat or working class and the bourgeoisie who were the owners of the production.  He predicted an uprising with the working class.    Marx felt that the working class was not valued and treated poorly by the owners.  Weber did not agree with Marx.   Weber viewed social stratification more as a spectrum of wealth.  He felt that prestige, power, property and wealth were all important.  He felt that the workers could benefit with increases in production.  Weber’s view is a more modern view with workers becoming more educated and increasing in wealth.

  1. Segregated Schools/Segregated Neighborhoods


                                                  New York        New Orleans          Detroit          Oakland

Segregated Schools                    50%                         43%                       55%             35%

Segregated Neighborhoods        33%                         45%                       54%             22%

  1. Kid Count

Kids Count-Childhood Poverty

100%                                       25%                        28%                       48%            48%

150%                                       39%                        41%                       34%            65%

200%                                       49%                        50%                       76%            47%

  1. The Opportunity Atlas

Black Males (Low Income)

Household Income                    $21k                      $ 27%

Incarcerated                               10%                         6%

Married                                      14%                        19%

Employed                                   71%                        76%

Individual Income                       $20k                       $25


  1. The first thing that jumps out at you is the high percentage of segregated schools. Except for New Orleans, all the school are more segregated than the neighborhoods.  Detroit is closer in percentage than the others.
  2. The poverty level for the children are huge.  At 100%, Detroit and Oakland are the highest.  The numbers change at 150% with Oakland being 31% higher than the Detroit at the lowest.  At 200%, New York, New Orleans and Oakland are very close in their percentage, but Detroit had a huge jump to 76%.  This data should be researched further to see what the significance of this is and why.


  1. In looking at the five data points between New York and New Orleans, it looks very similar. Both the household income and individual income is lower in New York than New Orleans.  New York has a higher rate of black males incarcerated and a lower employment rate.  There is also a lower rate of married black males in New York.  Many of these factors could lead to a higher crime rate.  It wasn’t a data point but in previous blogs, New York had a higher cost of level.  There is also a great margin between the wealthy and the poor.


Final Reflections:

As you can see, I am very passionate about urban education.  I know that it is not a simple problem with a simple solution.  There is less ability for young African American and Hispanic males to get a good education.  The cost of education is rising.  The neighborhoods which have been improved have higher rents.  Landlords are forcing their tenants out to make more money. In Kandice Summer’s Ted Talk, she talked about survivor remorse. When she was five, she took an hour bus ride to get a better education.  She felt that she didn’t deserve this good education when her friends couldn’t.  I never had to do any of the things that her family had to do.  No child should feel that they don’t deserve a good education.  It shouldn’t matter where you live.  Maybe we can’t fix the cost of colleges, but we should be able to fix public education.  Every child should have the same advantages regardless of their neighborhoods.  Even if I don’t get a chance to work with you, I will continue to work to improve education.  I think that courses like this one will continue to inspire us to change and not accept that it is okay.

Blog 9

Robert Doyle

Week 11, Blog 9

SOCY 327

Letter to the editor

To Whom It May Concern:

Addressing the problems with the housing crisis is not as simple as people just working harder.  There are historical barriers that continue to affect racially segregated housing today.  One of the first factors in buying a house is obtaining a loan.  It is a factor that many African Americans have a lower credit score than the Caucasian population.  They have a harder time getting a loan.  If they do get a loan, their rates are higher.  Because of this problem, the African Americans may take out loans from the Federal Housing Authority which has smaller down payments and lower credit scores.  Unfortunately, they may not get the homes because of the types of loans.  What was supposed to help can become another barrier.  Minorities have a harder time getting out of poverty because of historical racism.  Predatory loans basically take the down payment but made it hard to keep up with the monthly mortgage

The other contributing factor is that housing costs have risen much faster than incomes. In the article by Michael Hobbes on the housing crisis, he states that renters’ median earnings have only gone up five percent.  Unfortunately, the rents have risen by sixty-one percent.  He also talked about homeowners.  Their earnings have increased by fifty percent.  Home prices have increased by one hundred and twelve percent. In the documentary “House Divided”, it was overwhelming to see the apartments that cost millions of dollars while there are homeless people living in the shadows.  According to this documentary, many of these apartments are owned by people from other countries and often are empty.  This is such a terrible waste of resources.  Dolly and Jenny Lenz show Norman Lear these plush apartments with marble floors and gold borders.  This is such a difference between the first woman and her child who are homeless because the landlord could get more money.  Research shows that children who grow up in poverty are much more likely to remain in poverty.  Another example from the documentary was the difference between African Americans and Caucasians in going to college.  They can graduate with the same degree, but the African American will have to make it on their salary without the support of their family.  They will have huge student loans which makes it impossible to get a loan for a decent house.

Another example of racism is redlining.  This is a system that essentially draws a red line around the neighborhoods that are more desirable.  Those outside the red line do not have the same appeal to families.  This is usually based on race.  Those who live in the poorer sections are often African Americans.  You can see an example of this in the New Deal where a lot of the resources attempting to help the poor were denied to the African Americans.  The banks refused loans to those neighborhoods which left them undeveloped.  This type of racism would prevent African Americans from going to a bank because they would not be treated fairly.  While many of the Caucasians who had fought in the same war were given advantages to have a better life.

The problem with the original letter is that even though the racial laws and systems have been removed, it is not enough. As stated previously, the housing costs are increasing faster than the wages.  The disparity between the wealthy and the poor are increasing at alarming rates.  In the documentary, New York was a prime example of this.  Landlords continue to make it miserable for the poor, elderly and those who can’t afford to pay the increased rent.  They do many things to make it impossible for people to stay.  Watching construction that prevented a child from going outside was sad.  The problem is widespread.

Much of the racial segregation is in our major cities.  This is very evident in the cities; such as, New York, New Orleans, Detroit, Oakland and Washington, D. C. to just name a few.  There are many factors that contribute to this.  The location of public housing and attitudes about public housing affects the neighborhood.  Many of the public housing is connected within the same neighborhood.  One of the fastest growing problems is the gentrification of neighborhoods.  Many poorer properties are being bought, renovated and then previous tenants can’t afford to live in those neighborhoods.

In an article by Florence Roisman, “End Residential Racial Segregation:  Build Communities that Look Like America”, she had many concrete suggestions.  She stated that the Treasury Department should monitor affirmative fair marketing for all tax credits.  HUD should increase vouchers to discourage segregation.  According to Fair Housing Act, no funding should go to any community that doesn’t support renters with lower incomes.  She also felt that Congress should add 100,000 new vouchers for low income minority families.  I agree that in order to help people, the government will have to take a stronger stand.  Housing taxes must be lowered to support minorities.  The addition of new vouchers could help subsidize the poorer communities with the rising rent.

As I stated in the beginning, this is not a simple problem.  Much of the racial segregation is based in America’s history.  It is interesting to note that many of the communities that are facing the biggest problems are in the north.  As these cities grow in wealth, the division between the poor and wealthy increases at an alarming rate.  Low cost housing is disappearing, and homelessness is increasing.  This is not a problem that can be ignored.  It is not a matter of people just working harder or getting a job.  You can’t assume someone is homeless because they don’t want to work.  I don’t believe that parents want to see their children hungry or in living the streets or shelters.  When you look at the faces of the homeless, it is a real and significant problem that we can’t ignore.

Links: https:https://www.huffpost.com/entry/housing-crisis-inequality-harvard-report_n_5b27c1f1e4b056b2263c621e




Post 8

Robert Doyle

Week 10-Blog 8

SOCY 327-March 28, 2019

  1. Definition/s of gentrification?

“There is no universally agreed upon definition of gentrification. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines it innocuously as “the process of renovating and improving a house or district so that it conforms to middle-class taste.”  (“The Forces Driving Gentrification in Oakland”} “A Harvard study of Chicago found that the gentrification process continues for neighborhoods with over 35 percent of white residents, and either slows or stops if the neighborhood is 40 percent black.”  (“This Is What Happens After a Neighborhood Gets Gentrified”) Gentrification is a complex issue. It seems to be the answer to improve poorer neighborhoods but unfortunately, there are problems.  There is no easy fix.  Once the renovation occurs, many of the residents can’t afford to continue to live in the neighborhood.  They bring in restaurants and retail that will attract people to come live there but the prices go up.  I had never thought about what this meant for the people living in those areas.  I thought that it was a great benefit to them, but it is not.

2.      Connection to redlining, the GI Bill, white flight, housing costs, etc.?

 Redlining is against the law, but it didn’t stop banks post WW2 from denying loans based on   discrimination.    This and the GI Bill forced African Americans to live in a certain area.  In Cincinnati, you could draw a red line around the areas to show who could live where.  In video “Gentrification Explained”, it showed signs of that only whites should live in their neighborhood. “We want white tenants in our white community.”   I hope that sign could never be allowed again.  It also showed how the housing costs rose significantly for the African Americans compared to other races for a two-bedroom apartment.  Many of the Caucasians  moved to the suburbs which had better parks and schools.  Those quotes should how truly difficult it is for people of color to get the same rights of those of the white race.  It was sad for me to see that sign on the video and to think about how hopeless it would make you feel if that was about you.


  1. Voices from Oakland

“People are trying to use our slang and pretend they are from here,” Melina said. They say newcomers are “Columbusing” Oakland — appropriating the city without any regard for the people who were here building community long before Oakland was the “it” place to move to. ” “Respect us if you want to be respected,” Emmanuel said.  This is a quote from siblings who grew up in Oakland and are not happy to see the changes.  It has lost the neighborhood feeling that made it special to them”   In a quote from Davies, “Welcome to Oakland, however, please respect the people and culture that have existed for many [generations] before you moved here.”    I chose both quotes because it shows that the people who were living in the original area were not treated with respect even when they remained in the area.  The voices were from many different people, but they shared the same thought.  The improvements were not for them but for those who afford it.  There seems to be a common theme about the lack of respect for the people who were part of the neighborhood prior to the upgrades.



  1. Voices from Brooklyn

According to Neil Smith, “gentrification is a more appropriate term for the process today than it was even 50 years ago–quite literally, the take-back of the city by a privileged middle class or gentry.”  This quote talked about the difference between fifty years from now.  It used to be a smaller scale, but now entire neighborhoods are being bought up.  It is more about buying when the prices are low and selling at a profit.  This comes down to the true reason which is money.  Unfortunately, it a faster process and affects many more people.


  1. “My Brooklyn quote”

One of the quotes that struck me was “change is good”.  This video about Brooklyn and Fulton Mall was powerful in that the people who were affected talked about the change.  I had never heard about Fulton Mall and was amazed that it was such a powerful retail mall.  It was overshadowed by the more well-known retailers.  It is not surprising that the politicians wanted to get involved with this area.  Once they realize the value, it became important. It was primarily an African American and Caribbean’s community.  This video did not hesitate to show who she thoughts the villains were in the change.  This video was truly a call for action.


  1. Who benefits?

“When affluent people compete with poor people for a scarce supply of housing, guess what happens? Home prices and rents go up, and the poor are pushed out. In a nutshell, that’s the formula that fuels gentrification.”  (“Who Benefits from Gentrification?”)  It is not hard to think that landlords and large corporations would benefits from this.  There is no way that poor people can compete.  They don’t have the resources or the political power to fight this.  It is very popular to flip houses and make a profit.  Large corporations can flip an entire neighborhood for their profit.  City planners do not think about who they are displacing but how it will profit their city.


  1. Who is negatively impacted? And how?

“Gentrification has negatively affected those races of color who could no longer afford to live in their homes.  “This is the result of decades of deliberate actions: disinvestments, redlining, predatory lending, a lack of affordable housing construction and preservation, as well as too few tenant protections.  The actions coupled with the tech-fueled economic boom, are rapidly remaking neighborhoods into places where socioeconomic diversity is decreasing” (The Forces Driving Gentrification in Oakland”).

  1. How are people responding to/resisting gentrification?

The Urban Displacement Project highlights three main strategies to counter displacement:  increasing tenant protections, producing more housing (in particular affordable housing, and preserving existing affordable housing.” (The Forces Driving Gentrification in Oakland”) I know that this is not an easy fix.  Affordable housing is one of the most necessary and will take the most money. It is not as easy for people to want to put their tax dollars into this.  I am happy to see that this project is looking at the problems.  I hope that they can succeed and provide a resource for other cities.


  1. Your choice

According to Neil Smith, “That all changed in the 1980s. Gentrification became a systematic attempt to remake the central city, to take it back from the working class, from minorities, from homeless people, from immigrants who, in the minds of those who decamped to the suburbs, had stolen the city from its rightful white middle-class owners.”  What struck me about this quote was the speed at which this is happening.  The other concern was the fact that we think it is okay to displace people from their homes.  It is basic assumption that your wealth can determine your value.  There is a general lack of concern for people.


  1. Your choice

‘Gentrification is not a force of nature, an inevitable economic trend or a preordained social phenomenon. It is the result of decisions made by real people who run institutions, seek to make profits, and are motivated by greed and power.’ (Who Benefits from Gentrification?”)  I feel that this quote sums up the concerns about gentrification.  I agree with this about real people who want profits.  If we made this problem, then we must help to solve this problem.  There needs to be more emphasize on this urban problem. We must get the message to the public to show all the facts about gentrification.  We can’t continue to just show upscale trendy areas without the down side of this.

Blog 7

Robert Doyle

Week 9-Blog 7

Urban Sociology 327

Textbook Analysis

     In the textbook, there is very little information about climate change or how it affects specific cities or racial groups.  First, I looked at the index to see certain words like climate change, environmental racism and global warming.  It was surprising that these words were missing and there were no chapters that focused on them.  I had to extrapolate and narrow my focus to certain cities.  I chose New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina.  Even with focusing on these specific topics, it only had a few references.  An example of this is on page one hundred and fifty-two in our book which mentions Katrina.  It states that it mostly affected the African American population who lived in the poorer sections of the city. These areas were below the sea level.   It was not just one race that was affected by this tragedy.  The Vietnamese population were also affected in the same area.  Without all the other readings, I feel that this would have been a very narrow view of all the problems in New Orleans.  Plus, there should be more discussion on how environmental racism continues to affect areas of New Orleans after Katrina.

Other chapters of the book did talk about how environmental racism affects certain American minorities.  These groups were generally living in poorer sections of the cities with an inferior infrastructure.  This makes these areas much more susceptible to natural disasters.  The government would need to invest more money in areas that are already suffering.  In the book, they discuss the different areas of the four cities that we have been studying and how climate change can have devastating effects.  The book talks about all these different areas but does not really do a deep dive on all the aspects.

My conclusion is that if you are looking for information about environmental racism and climate change, you will get some information.  I don’t feel that any book can be the one source of truth on every subject, but I do feel that there could have been more information.  I also felt that this book did not have a clear layout of information.  I often felt that I was reading some of the same information from previous chapters.  I feel that the different reading that have been assigned in this class would be enough without the use of this textbook.  Most of the reading were much more up to date than what was written in the textbook.

Instagram/Twitter Hashtags

     Social media has become an increasing important topic on our culture and how information is shared.  The Flint crisis happened in 2014 but it didn’t get national attention until people started posting it on social media.  It is impossible not to be moved by pictures of dirty water coming from sinks and water bottles filled with sludge. People who have never heard of this town became very interested in their crisis.  The boom of social media makes it impossible for this type of crisis to be ignored.  These posts on social media was picked up by a major news network which helped to amplify the crisis to everyone.  The news seems to have evolved from breaking a news story to reporting stories from social media.  This was an example of how social media can be helpful to address problems.

Unfortunately, it has its goods points and its bad points.  It can be very negative if someone’s opinion can influence others and it becomes a mob mentality.  We live in a world where people feel free to express their opinions and others quickly jump on the bandwagon.  Some of these opinions have very little context or actual sources.  It is based on the emotions of the people who are posting. Misinformation is a common occurrence because people don’t want to take the time to truly research the idea.  I think if people are easily swayed by emotions, social media can be a problem.  I used #Environmental Racism and #Flint Water Crises on both Twitter and Instagram.  The water situation in Flint is a prime example of environmental racism.


  1. Environmental justice is the promotion of laws and regulations to protect the environment with a focus on minority issues. Environmental racism is the opposite of the environmental justice.  This is when a minority group is at risk because of where they live without the protection of regulations for clean air and water.
  2. Concrete facts about environmental racism
  3. African American communities have a higher exposure rates to air pollution than their white counterparts.
  4. Lead poisoning mostly affects children of color.
  5. African Americans are seventy-five percent more likely to live near a chemical plant.
  6. African Americans are twice as likely to live near a landfill than Caucasians
  7. African Americans are eighty percent more likely to live in a flood zone.
  8. Majora Carter said that her community was the canary in the coal mine for environmental justice. She talked about how her community handled more waste and pollutants than any other small community and they shouldn’t have to deal with everyone else’s waste.  I feel that no one should be treated as if they were less than others.  The canaries were not important in the coal mine expect to protect the miners.  We should not treat anyone as if their community is a dumping ground for our trash.  Everyone should have the same rights to clean air.
  9. Robert Moses was a major designer of New York City. He was openly racist, and he designed the city to prevent the African Americans from crossing certain city boundaries.  An example of this is his low bridge overpass which prevents buses from going through the city limits.  This prevented poor people from going to the Long Island beaches.  He made sure parks were far away from the poorer areas and in the richer neighborhoods.  His designs are still having an effect today.  The poorer areas of New York City continue to suffer from traffic and a lack of public parks.
  10. The Flint Water Crisis changed when the city decided to save money by pumping the water through lead pipes. These pipes have a high concentration of lead and have caused rashes, hair loss and sickness.  This decision was done by an emergency manager appointed by Michigan’s governor Rick Snyder to cut costs. Many of the residents complained and the water was examined by Virginia Tech.  They discovered that there was a dangerous level of lead in the water.  When the residents complained to the EPA, it was ignored.  It took a court order to force the state to give the residents bottled water.  The reason that this problem was ignored was due to racism according to Michigan’s Civil Rights Commissioner.  Flint is a very poor community and the city couldn’t afford basic utilities. The stories of the people made it more important because these are real people not actors. This continues to be a problem and I personally would not drink any of the water in Flint, Michigan.
  11. In New York City, the African Americans make up only twenty-five percent of the population. The African American community processes up to seventy percent of the sewage sludge. In the article, “Sewage Overflows:  Untreated Problem in New York Waterways”, it would take over five billion dollars to fix the problem. (https://www.pressconnects.com/story/news/local/watchdog/2019/01/31) In New Orleans, it has an African American population of sixty percent.  Unfortunately, eighty percent of the destruction by hurricane Katrina affected them.  The Urban League of Greater New Orleans wrote their findings in “State of Black New Orleans: 10 Years Post Katrina” (http://www.urbanleagueneworleans.org/ul/wp.)


     The most important thing about the climate change is the effect that it has on people.    Global warming is not a myth.  Storms are stronger and have a far-reaching effect on all of us.  It is important that we don’t think of it as something that can’t happen to us.  Environmental regulations have been too slow in coming and we need to know that the need is now.  It should not matter whether you are a minority or not.  Everyone should have the same rights to clean air and safety against flooding.  Of course, we don’t have control over the weather, but we need to be wise in what we do to protect our cities against hurricanes and flooding.  We must understand that environmental racism is real and there needs to be actions to protect those affected by this.

Blog 6

Robert Doyle

Week 8, Blog 6

SOCY 327

Dear Tom,

I thought about your recent letter talking about the climate change.  I know that you think this is just been a political issue with no real substance.  I hope you won’t mind if I disagree with you and share several points that I have been studying in my Urban Sociology class.  I also know that you like to research any thoughts that I share with you, so I am going to divide it into three sections.

  1. Roots/Impacts of Climate Change
  2. How Our Cities are Affected
  3. People/policies and solutions/strategies

Roots/Impacts of Climate Change

I know that we both agree that humans have a huge effect on our natural resources.  We continue to cut down our forests and use up our natural resources to support our lifestyles.  According to my sociology course, “2% of the earth’s surface are urban areas and these cities produce 71-76% of the world’s carbon dioxide.”  That is a very troubling statistic.  We are emitting more carbon dioxide and other gasses which is causing the greenhouse effect.  I bet that is why you moved from the city to the country after you retired.  You live a much simpler life including having a garden to provide your own vegetables.  Although you are doing your part, you think that one person can’t change how we take care of the world.   All of us have believed that we aren’t going to be touched by a natural disaster. This is one of the assumptions which makes it hard to change society.  The second assumption is that we don’t truly understand why climate change is happening.  It doesn’t seem like a small increase in temperature or water level should be that significant.   When climate changes are not easily observed, it doesn’t become significant.  I can understand why you find it hard to believe it is a problem.  But when that change continues, it can become significant. If you add hurricanes and flooding to the mix, you have a disaster.

We can watch how hurricanes on television destroy parts of the country but unless it affects us directly, it doesn’t have the same impact.  That is a third factor that society has not really responded to the dire predictions of global warming.  It has been more recent that we have seen much more significant weather changes.  I know that you believe that this is political but since you lived in Baton Rouge, I am sure you were affected by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.  It made us all feel helpless.   I think you would enjoy the video about how New Orleans must learn to live with water.  Flooding is their biggest threat.  Even though they had built levies, it was not enough for water caused by Hurricane Katrina.  It is unfortunate that it took such a huge disaster for the city to pay attention.  I don’t think any of them would feel that climate change is not important.

I think the fourth point is that we as individuals feel hopeless to stop the climate change.  My urban sociology course would encourage us to look at this opportunity to get involved in local and state governments.  We need more voices to come up with solutions to stop the overuse of fossil fuels and decrease the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  I know that you lived in the city long enough to see how much we use our resources.  I think it is easier to believe that the climate change is not real than to think about it and feel the impact.  I didn’t use to worry about the effects of global warming as much as I do now.  I am paying more attention to how I use our resources and encouraging my family to do the same.  Since you are family, I hope you will join me in this effort.

How Our Cities are Affected

In my class, we are looking at four cities.  It is very easy to see the impact of the climate on those cities.  Of course, New Orleans is one of the prime examples of how hurricanes and flooding can change the entire geography of a city.  In the video, “Learning to Live with Water”, it shows the effect of Hurricane Katrina.  Those effects are still being felt today.  No longer do they believe that they are safe unless they completely revamp how they will handle flooding.  They thought the levees were fine, but it was not.  Another video that may interest you is “How the Climate Could Change in These US Cities by 2050”.  It was surprising to see how the warmer climates are moving further south.  The summers are hotter and drier.  The winters are also warmer and wet.  This will affect how people live.   I know you said that it was much hotter in North Carolina than it had been in the past.  I know that a few degrees don’t seem significant, but it can affect the crops.  I remember you talking about how the weather affected your garden last year.

There was an interesting video that showed pictures of New York under water.  I remember when we watched the movie “The Day after Tomorrow”, we thought that could never happen.  Now I believe that it could happen which could lead to an ice age.  I know that you love interactive maps.  I think that you would find the “Urban Impact Assessment” helpful.  It shows the risk factors for each of the major cities.  I looked at Detroit, New Orleans, New York and LA.  It showed if there was a risk of flood, heat, cold and other different climates.  It also showed how prepared each of the cities was for these disasters.  Flooding seemed to be one of the highest risks.  It included costs and risk to lives.  Hopefully, I have encouraged you to think of this as a real problem.  I know how you love to read so I am sure you will check out the different resources that I suggested.  My last section will be on people and solutions.

People/policies and Solutions/Strategies

     In sharing some solutions, I am going to tell you about some ideas that are happening in Detroit and New Orleans.  Detroit use to be a thriving city with the automobile industry.  Unfortunately, they were not willing to change which led to their downfall.  They have become a city of vacant lots because people moved out when they couldn’t get work.  One of the suggestions was to transform 5,000 vacant lots to grasslands.  The city could sell their greenspace.  This would also bring people back into the city.  This could be a sample for other cities in the mid-west.  This could help with the climate and bring in more revenue.

New Orleans is looking at the problem in a different way.  They must address their waterways and wetlands.  The people there no longer think about if a disaster will happen but when.  I think that we should look at what happened to them and wonder how it will affect our costal areas.  Some of the suggestions from “Learning to Live with Water” are the following:  plan for multiple lines of defense, set priorities and take the politics out, have large scale interventions plus the infrastructure must contribute to the landscape and different governments must collaborate.  There still needs to be someone in charge of these initiatives.  In my final thoughts about the climate, I think that each of us must do what we can.  I think that the least we can do is to recycle and reuse.   I hope that you don’t mind this long letter.  I would have rather talked with you, but it is good to get some ideas down on paper.  Hopefully, it will give you some thoughts about why this is an important issue.


Blog 5

Robert Doyle

Week 6-Blog 5

Urban Sociology- 327

  1. Reflection:

In my experience, stories are more interesting than data.  Also, data can be interpreted in different ways.  Stories make a much deeper impact on humans than just statistics.  Stories and pictures make it more personal and reach you on a much more emotional level.  However, data and facts can give you a more objective view on the world.  Without the data, all your information would be purely subjective.  It would be easy to be deceived if you do not have facts to back up your resources.  You need a base of logic to support your beliefs.  Even though, I feel that the stories had a higher impact emotionally, I would not completely base all my assumptions on that.  In my opinion, quantitative data is more important but qualitative data gives you the context.   I think that part of the reason that I see a need for both types of information is that I am not easily persuaded without enough research.

In blog 4, the data compared New Orleans and New York City.  Much of the data was not a surprise. The cost of living in New York City was twice as high as New Orleans.  The data that was surprising was that the percentage of violent crimes and unemployment were higher in New Orleans.  I think that it would have been interesting to see the stories of people who survived Katrina and how that changed New Orleans.  One of the lessons from blog 4 is that raw data needs context to help understand the statistics between two cities.  I think it would be important to look at any of the cities and compare it to the data from the United States as a whole. I think that it would be important to analyze what happened to Detroit in the same manner.  The statistics would tell one story but the “Detroit 48202:  Conversation Along a Postal Route” gives you emotional impact of what happened during those times.  It wasn’t just a matter of the economy failing but how it impacted the people.

In the “New York Public Library Community Oral History Project”, I read stories about people from each of the different communities.  The stories of Greenwich Village by Alison Armstrong and Angelo Verga had similarities to the one by Elke Fears in Hell’s Kitchen.  Each of the people that they showcased talked about their community and what they were doing to help.  This with the other assignments helped to bring a personal experience that people can relate to and understand.  It produces a larger emotional response.  In order to change the culture, it is not enough to know the statistics, there needs to be a face to the facts.  Any changes must start with the grass roots of the community and must have champions.  This can help to produce changes within the community and hopefully on a political level.

  1. Stories:
  2. One of stories that I picked was Angelica Herrera de Leon who is an illegal immigrant living in the United States. Her husband is applying to become a citizen of the United States.  Her mother gave them a trip to Niagara Falls in Canada.  Because of their status, they had to take a bus to go.  On their return trip, there were stopped by the I. C. E. agents and force to leave the bus.  Her husband was free to go but she was told she would be deported within two weeks.  She is awaiting the decision about this.  This is important because she in a sanctuary city, but illegal immigrants are not safe.   New York is one of those cities that has designated money to assist illegal immigrants with their court cases.  Most of them have not been deported because of this.  But with the stricter laws in Trump’s policies, this may not continue to be the case.

Eleanor Daly was a woman who grew up in Lower East Manhattan.  She talked about what she did as a young girl into adulthood.  She also describes the differences that she sees with her community now compared to her youth.  She has many memories about school and how it helped her.  I think it is helpful to truly understand the culture of a community through the eyes of those who live there.  Statistics can give facts.  When someone has lived in the community, it brings a completely different understanding.

  1. For broader stories, I looked at “Who were the natives of Detroit”. Prior to the readings, I did not realize that early Detroit was mainly inhabited by Native Americans.  The tribe was the Anishinaabe but that included many other tribes.  The “Native Land” map shows how much land this involved which includes four cities.  These four cities were San Francisco/Oakland, Detroit, New Orleans and New York City.  Prior to looking at these two articles, I did not realize the extent of their land.   It is very sad to realize that ninety percent of the population was wiped out and we live in a land that was once theirs.  Sue Franklin talks about how the Native Americans were deeply religious and this was used to get their land.  They were told that the Great Spirit had told them to give up their land.  It saddens me to think about how we took advantage of the Native Americans.  Their cultures and traditions are not well known, and people are more likely to associate them with stereotypes.

In “Undocumented New York Living in Fear”, it shows that the new policies with the Trump era have increased fear in all immigrants living in New York.  New York does have money to help with these cases, but all immigrants are now feeling vulnerable.  My previous example regarding the woman who was removed from the bus by I.C.E. agents to check identity and then file her for deportation is just one story.   There are countless stories of people being questioned regarding their status and threatened with deportation.  This includes many who have been here in the country and have well established careers.  One of the outcomes of this fear is that people are starting to live in the shadows.  They don’t want to bring any attention to themselves.  This could affect whether they pay their taxes, enroll their children in school, and many other ways of the government being aware of their existence. This will have multiple consequences for immigrants and for the cities where they live.

In “Visible Lives” for the oral history project, Alem Blount talks about living with disabilities.  She has cerebral palsy.  She is a strong advocate for those with disabilities to show that they are valuable to their communities.  She makes sure that her disability does not prevent her from doing everything that she can.  All the stories of those with disabilities show that you can go beyond your problems.  They talk about their struggles, but they focus on what they can do and not on what they can’t.

  1. Issues

One of the issues is a sanctuary city.  A sanctuary city is a place where they don’t cooperate with the government regarding immigration.  They offer safety to illegal immigrants.  San Francisco is one of the largest sanctuary cities in the United States.  The problem will be how to remain a sanctuary city with the new Trump laws.  It is difficult when they take money from the federal government for many of their programs.

  1. San Francisco was one of the first sanctuary cities in the United States.
  2. Churches were one of the first groups to oppose the immigration laws.
  3. California is passing legislation to become a sanctuary state.
  4. Sanctuary cities do not affect the crime rate in the city.
  5. Berkeley became the first city in the Unite States to pass a sanctuary resolution.

“Center for Immigration Studies:  Sanctuary Cities”

This is a study looking at sanctuary cities and refuting the claims about their negative effects.  Some of those ideas were that immigrants would increase the crime rate.  The other area was the law of trust of public officials. Neither of these is true.

The second issue is environmental racism in New Orleans.  Environmental racism is when a race or group is affected by environmental problems more than others.  One example of this is hurricanes and floods.

  1. Flood zones were generally assigned to African Americans.
  2. African Americans are usually the most hurt by flooding but don’t get as much federal funding.
  3. Lead poisoning is more likely to affect black and low-income populations.
  4. Asthma affects the African Americans population twice as much as Caucasians.
  5. 85% of African Americans in New Orleans lost everything compared to 19% of Caucasians.

This data was shown in “In the Environmental Justice through the eye of Hurricane Katrina”.

This document clearly shows how environment can be a huge factor in how you live.  It talks about the lack of resources.  It shows how close to the flood zone African American neighborhoods were and how much they lost.