Behind the White Picket Fence

Behind the White Picket Fence: Power and Privilege in a Multiethnic Neighborhood

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 208
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Behind the White Picket Fence
    Book Description:

    The link between residential segregation and racial inequality is well established, so it would seem that greater equality would prevail in integrated neighborhoods. But as Sarah Mayorga-Gallo argues, multiethnic and mixed-income neighborhoods still harbor the signs of continued, systemic racial inequalities. Drawing on deep ethnographic and other innovative research from "Creekridge Park," a pseudonymous urban community in Durham, North Carolina, Mayorga-Gallo demonstrates that the proximity of white, African American, and Latino neighbors does not ensure equity; rather, proximity and equity are in fact subject to structural-level processes of stratification.Behind the White Picket Fenceshows how contemporary understandings of diversity are not necessarily rooted in equity or justice but instead can reinforce white homeowners' race and class privilege; ultimately, good intentions and a desire for diversity alone do not challenge structural racial, social, and economic disparities. This book makes a compelling case for how power and privilege are reproduced in daily interactions and calls on readers to question commonsense understandings of space and inequality in order to better understand how race functions in multiethnic America.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-1865-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. CHAPTER 1 Inside Creekridge Park
    (pp. 1-21)

    Creekridge Park is an urban, multiethnic, and mixed-income neighborhood in Durham, North Carolina (see map 1).¹ During the fall of 2010, the Creekridge Park Neighborhood Association (CPNA) once again held its annual picnic at the home of Burt, a White homeowner and established resident, on Harris Street.² Temperatures in the low seventies and clear skies made it a perfect day for a picnic. The main purpose of this gathering was holding the CPNA board elections. Burt has a covered garage with a long, wide driveway that served as the party area. The property seems uncharacteristically new and large for the...

  5. CHAPTER 2 White Habitus and the Meanings of Diversity
    (pp. 22-58)

    Debbie and Sharon’s characterizations of a diverse Creekridge Park area contribute important insights into the neighborhood’s white, urban, middle-class habitus. Diversity across multiple axes is a prominent aspect of Creekridge Park for White residents, particularly homeowners. In this chapter I analyze White residents’ definitions of diversity and the centrality of diversity ideology to this specific white, urban, middle-class habitus. Investigating what White residents mean when they use the term “diversity” helps elucidate how diversity ideology affects how Whites frame their decisions to live in Creekridge Park. I find that these definitions of diversity do not acknowledge power differentials across race...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Neighboring from a Distance
    (pp. 59-93)

    The more time I spent in Creekridge Park, the more apparent the practices of the white, urban, middle-class habitus became. In the epigraph, Luke, a newcomer on Colony Street, highlights an important aspect of life in Creekridge Park: White homeowners, many of whom are recent additions to the neighborhood, not only assume they are entitled to set the norms of the neighborhood but, because of race and class privilege, are able to do so.

    In this chapter, I describe the different interracial and intraracial codes of conduct White individuals and groups enact in Creekridge Park. I call these “white codes,”...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Creekridge Park in Black and Brown
    (pp. 94-147)

    Mary’s quotation introduces us to a central concern of this chapter. Mary, a Black longtime resident, was responding to one of my standard interview questions:The neighborhood association claims that the neighborhood is mixed income and diverse; do you think that is true? “Mixed income” and “diverse,” phrases commonly used in the sociological literature and newspaper articles on urban development and eagerly endorsed by White residents in Creekridge Park, were questionable to Mary. Mary’s query highlights how diversity may function as a “code word.” A code word, as defined by sociologists Michael Omi and Howard Winant, is the “non-racial rhetoric...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Solving the Wrong Problem
    (pp. 148-154)

    In an insightful chapter about integrative housing efforts, urban scholar Janet L. Smith asks “Are we trying to solve the wrong problem?” in response to the unconvincing evidence regarding poverty deconcentration programs such as Moving to Opportunity.¹ Based on data shared by the White, Black, and Latino/a residents of Creekridge Park, I similarly argue that scholars and policy makers focusing on proximity between racialethnic groups are fixating on the wrong problem. Studying segregation helps us understand an important process by which racial inequality is reproduced contemporarily, but that does not mean statistically integrated multiethnic spaces are equitable. As we saw...

  9. APPENDIX A Researcher in the Field
    (pp. 155-164)
  10. APPENDIX B Guide for In-depth Interviews
    (pp. 165-168)
  11. APPENDIX C Interview Participant Demographics
    (pp. 169-172)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 173-182)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 183-190)
  14. Index
    (pp. 191-193)