SOCY 327 Blog #5: 2/18-2/24


I would like to say that I am solely a qualitative thinker because I live for hearing peoples’ stories and tying into what I have learned. I enjoyed being assigned the Oral History Project by the New York Public Library because it has many stories of real people who are from New York and what they have gone through. These stories show that people have diverse experiences, even if they are from the same city or area. However, I don’t believe that I am completely a qualitative thinker. Although I live for hearing stories and learning from them, I find it helpful to have some numbers to help me understand the intensity of certain issues and how these numbers can be changed. Because of this, I believe that I am more of a mixed thinker.

When researching cities, I believe that it is important to understand the people that make up the cities. Stories are important to help us understand where these cities have been before and the direction that these cities are headed based on individual stories. On the other hand, data and statistics are important because it helps bring to light the numbers connected to the stories that people tell about the cities that they live in.

When reviewing the Native Land map, I was very surprised to find that there are so many Native American tribes still in America. I find this information important because we don’t learn about a majority of these tribes in school and we should know that these tribes still exist all over the United States.


“Detroit 48202: Conversations Along a Postal Route” was interesting to me as it followed a mailman named Wendell on his route throughout the day, where he discusses the changes in Detroit and talks with others about their stories and how these changes have affected their livelihood. Wendell discusses how there are big houses on several blocks, but there are blocks on his route where “houses that were there 10 years ago or now gone”. I found this interesting and upsetting because these buildings were bought by corporations, but nothing was ever done with them and it’s a shame that people aren’t able to live in these buildings. One story in particular that stood out to me in this documentary was the story of General Thornbaker, who was born and raised in Detroit at a time when the auto industry was booming and the city was always live. Thornbaker discusses how during the Korean War, auto companies began to move their factories to other states, many out of jobs, including his father. General Thornbaker also discussed police treatment during the 50s and 60s after these factories were closed. An example of this would be when police raided a “blind pig” or an illegal drinking establishment. This sparked protests throughout the city, this was called the Detroit Rebellion. A woman named Kim even discusses the National Guard coming in. Another woman recounts how as a community, they tried to keep each other safe. A man named Ronald Hewitt recounts the National Guard firing hundreds of thousands of shots just on one block and empty shell casings everywhere after this rebellion. Ronald remembers going to jail for breaking city curfew and how the only way people were able to get through police and trooper lines was with a badge from an auto factory. One thing that Ronald said that I found very interesting was “The analysis we made of that was the only place that Black people had any value in this society was at the point of production”. For a city that is predominantly African American, the treatment of these individuals was horrible.

Another story that I stood out to me was the story of Wendell, the main face of this documentary. Wendell grew up in Detroit and recounts how nice the houses were around him and how everyone was organized & clean. He discusses the “eventual destruction” of Detroit and how although he didn’t understand it at the time, it happened gradually throughout the years. He discusses this destruction that I discussed earlier with the Detroit Rebellion with other people in this documentary, gathering a better understanding of how Detroit fell apart. Wendell talks about how he’s sick of the “bulletproof glass and paranoia” and would prefer to live somewhere more relaxed. I believe that this is a reality of a lot of people today, even though a lot of people can’t just pack up and move. These stories show that Detroit was not always the way that it seems to be seen now, rundown and violent. Detroit, like other major cities, had a vibrant past and has slowly devolved, trying to rebuild what it once was.

One broader story that caught my attention was undocumented immigrants in urban areas such as New York. The New York Magazine article discusses broadly the issue of immigration and how since the election of Donald Trump as president, immigrants in New York live in fear of deportation. This fear is warranted, as ICE arrests have increased by 67% in this city and arrests of immigrants with no criminal convictions increased by 225%, with people being arrested when doing things a simple as working to make money for their families or even going on a honeymoon. The article discusses how these mass deportations can affect other urban areas in drastic ways and this article has helped me better understand how this has affected thousands of New Yorkers already.

The Detroit documentary has given me deep insight into the current condition of the city of Detroit. As I have mentioned earlier, Detroit was previously a booming city and was even known as the motor city. The documentary focuses on the struggles of African Americans living in Detroit discussing issues such as housing discrimination, the destruction of several homes in Detroit, and even denial of loans to African Americans. Although sometimes it may seem that we are getting better in treatment of African Americans, this documentary shows that racism in predominantly Black cities such as Detroit very much still exists.

Another broader story that has stuck out to me was about how toxic of a city New York is in terms of environmental racism. The video and article discusses how Sunset Park, a neighborhood in New York, was settled by Dutch because of its economic prosperity and good soil throughout. Eventually, this became a large community of color and factories were built all over this city, presenting many environmental hazards. Residents have reported increased incidences of cancer, respiratory issues, and lung disease higher than other parts of the city. This video has helped me better understand racism, but in a different way. I understood that environmental racism existed, but I never fully understood the extent of it until watching this video.


Poverty Among African Americans in San Francisco

1. African Americans make up 6.1% of San Francisco (45,654) and are most likely to be in poverty

2. Although they only make up 6.1% of the city, over 14,000 African Americans in San Francisco live in poverty (31.79%)

3. African Americans make up the highest unemployment rate in San Francisco, 14.6%

4. African Americans are leaving San Francisco because of lack of affordable housing, with the Mayor’s office putting together a task force to figure out how to retain the city’s remaining Black population

5. While household income increases among White and Asian households, it only decreases for African Americans

Statistics of San Francisco by factors such as race, income, and sex

Immigration in New Orleans

1. About 65,000 undocumented immigrants live in Louisiana, undocumented workers making up 1% of Louisiana’s population

2. 86% of undocumented immigrants in Louisiana are at working age, between 25 and 64 years old

3. New Orleans is a sanctuary city in danger of the Trump administration’s immigration laws

4. As of 2016, New Orleans enacted regulations that require bias-free policing where officers are not to inquire about someone’s citizenship status

5. Because of Trump’s executive order in 2017, federal funding was withheld for cities that did not actively search and/or detain undocumented immigrants

This video focuses on the lives of undocumented workers in New Orleans and the difficulties of making ends meet as an undocumented worker


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