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Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Racial History of Seattle

Posted by on Thu, Feb 24, 2011 at 7:05 AM

What it looks like...

Seattle is not more or less diverse—it has remained pretty much the same over the decade. The north is white; the south is the rest of the world. Actually existing globalisation (from the bottom up) is all about South Seattle.


Comments (21) RSS

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Neither city
is a positive place for blacks who have skills. Seattle is a larger Portland and Portland is a smaller Seattle. By skills I mean real skills computers, medicine ect.

You will be the only black or two at your company and your social life will be sliently prejudice.
The only black people who really like the northwest are the generation of blacks who have been here since the 50's. they are not black in their minds.

If you have entertainment skills you are in need i say athlete. Other than tossing balls on the court or field you are watched with a weary eye.
Minneapolis has been a more sociallly progressive city long before Seattle knew the word.
keep it real. Yes their population is small to but you also have ST PAUL and you are
close to Chicago.
Posted by malika on March 13, 2013 at 9:05 PM · Report this
It's a sad fact that it seems to the rule that if a US city becomes too heavy with blacks then an increase in crime seems to follow. I hope Seattle can break the rule.
Posted by Anyhoo on March 13, 2013 at 2:30 PM · Report this
Fnarf, you did a credible job of describing the social contract as it existed during the pre-60's, 60's and early 70's in Seattle. The migration patterns were a bit different. Sending Japanese-Americans to concentration camps during WW2 made available a good deal of housing east of Rainer Ave. and north of Jackson St. to African-Americans working in the defense industry during the war.

A major point missing in the comments on this article was the alleged refusal of Seattle's lending institutions during that time period to make loans to individuals and business entities within the Redlined neighborhoods due to the race of their residents.

This was a practice that was understood to have occured in many US cities.
Posted by Fairhaven on February 24, 2011 at 8:09 PM · Report this
kk in seattle 18
I thought one of the more interesting comments was at the beginning when we are told that Seattle has fewer minorities because we are far from the source populations of Hispanics and Blacks. Well, that, and the fact that we forcibly expelled our Chinese and Japanese residents.
Posted by kk in seattle on February 24, 2011 at 5:17 PM · Report this
Fnarf 17
@16, I'm very well aware of it. One thing that's interesting about the development of the CD is that it initially was a double-ended neighborhood, with high-class black residents to the north, around the William Grose farm at what is now East Madison and 24th, and lower-class black residents, including transients, sailors and such, and more recent southern migrants to the south, behind the ID. The space in between has always been Seattle's mixed-race neighborhood, the only place where Jews, blacks, Asians, etc. were allowed to settle.

But it's also important to realize just how small the numbers were. Until WWII brought black workers in number, there were just a few hundred African-Americans here; black people didn't become Seattle's largest minority group until 1950 (and they've lost that position again). One of the things that shaped the later development of the CD was the fact that in, say, 1970, it had the same number of housing units as it did in 1940 -- but with ten times the population.

You could call it a "soft ghetto"; it never looked like an east coast tenement district, but the housing stock was still overcrowded and beat to death. You can still see shattered houses sprinkled amidst the gentrified ones, but they're getting scarcer.

Restrictive covenants were declared unenforceable in 1948, but true legal change didn't come until twenty years after that, and there is still social pressure today not to sell or rent to African-Americans. And if they do move into Wedgewood or Ballard, or even neighborhoods that once had a black presence, because they were poor (like Fremont or Green Lake in the 70s) there are a million ways in which they are made to feel uncomfortable even when they are not poor. I was just talking to a woman a while back about her reaction to the all-white neighborhood pool.
Posted by Fnarf on February 24, 2011 at 12:11 PM · Report this
10 and 14 -- Redlining was practiced in central Seattle during the 60's and early 70's. Take a look at the PI's and Times' archive. I suspect most SLOG readers, and perhaps Mudede are unfamiliar with the term/practice. Fnarf and his generation should be aware of it.
Posted by Fairhaven on February 24, 2011 at 10:58 AM · Report this
The whole class argument- and by extension the racial one- is a 19th century still life of social immobility, a snapshot. It is Marx's only valid critique.

Take any individual American life and run it forwards and backwards and you will see all kinds of opportunity for social mobility, from poverty to wealth and back.

But the philosopher's gaze upon the scene can't keep up with reality.
Posted by fag on February 24, 2011 at 10:48 AM · Report this
Cascadian 14
10--but it wasn't always so. The redlining was explicitly racist north of the Ship Canal and anywhere outside the city limits until the Civil Rights Act. There are still racist covenants in many Seattle and Seattle-area neighborhoods, even if they're no longer enforced. The economic stratification is the result of explicit racist segregation, and it continues to perpetuate itself long after legal segregation has been eliminated.
Posted by Cascadian on February 24, 2011 at 10:11 AM · Report this
TVDinner 13
Fascinating. Perhaps the most important comment he makes comes at the very end: "I think that the population doesn't realize yet - maybe they're beginning to - (but) how significant the class differences are and how deep they have become in the last fifteen or twenty years."

He would know.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on February 24, 2011 at 9:55 AM · Report this
jackie treehorn 12
The 98118 has better bodegas, too. I bet you can't even buy a lil wayne t-shirt or sneakers at a gas station in Wedgewood.
Posted by jackie treehorn on February 24, 2011 at 9:35 AM · Report this

Mural down the street from me on Kent East Hill, across from India Combo, best in Puget Sound:…

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on February 24, 2011 at 9:27 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 10
anyone who can pay the freight can live in N Seattle - the redlining is economic, not racial.
Posted by Max Solomon on February 24, 2011 at 9:13 AM · Report this
@3, did you know i was a british subject almost half of my life."

Yes, and look how well things have gone as a citizen of the ZANU-PDF!
Posted by Ian smith on February 24, 2011 at 8:44 AM · Report this
I see professional race baiter Charles has been ordered to muddy the waters now Seattle's diversity and social Ju$tice crowd has been caught stealing from the SpS all in the guise of 'minority advancement'.

Anybody notice that Capitol Hill is one of the whitest places in Seattle? As white as Ballard? Gotta laugh.

Do as we say, not as we live!
Posted by Ian Smith on February 24, 2011 at 8:42 AM · Report this
My Seattle neighborhood's 86 % white. Still better than the 95% white the town I grew up in is.…
Posted by eys on February 24, 2011 at 8:30 AM · Report this
raindrop 6
@5: Well then, since that is the case, I delightfully withdraw my objection.
Posted by raindrop on February 24, 2011 at 8:28 AM · Report this
Charles Mudede 5
@3, did you know i was a british subject almost half of my life.
Posted by Charles Mudede on February 24, 2011 at 8:11 AM · Report this
Fnarf 4
But even the dark sections of Seattle are extremely white. Seattle city is ten percent African-American, which is lower than any other American city of its size (Portland, smaller, is even whiter, lacking even the significant Asian population we have). Black people are still concentrated in the CD and Rainier Valley, but they're moving out of both of those neighborhoods, especially the gentrifying former, and into places like Kent and Auburn and Federal Way.

The Northwest (WA/OR/ID) is the last bastion of a disappearing white America. Across the country, whites are increasingly a minority; in ten states whites are a minority among people under 18. We're not close to being one of them.
Posted by Fnarf on February 24, 2011 at 8:05 AM · Report this
raindrop 3
GlobaliZation Charles, not with an s.
Posted by raindrop on February 24, 2011 at 8:04 AM · Report this
Anyone here ever heard of "redlining"? It was alive and well in Seattle.
Posted by Fairhaven on February 24, 2011 at 8:00 AM · Report this
lark 1
Good Morning Charles,
I just saw that map in the paper this morning. Indeed, the suburbs are diversifying. And, greatly since the past ten years. But ten years isn't really a true racial history of Seattle & vicinity. I think what is far more extraordinary and indicative of genuine diversity is Seattle proper & and its burbs 50 years ago vs. now. The generational change is fascinating. Merely look at the class of the University of Washington in 1960 vs. 2010. It's sweeping vis-a-vis gender & race.
Posted by lark on February 24, 2011 at 7:48 AM · Report this

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