Reasons for Rallies

Over the last few weeks, there have been large demonstrations against racism in Philadelphia, Boston, and Charlottesville, among other cities.

Race Rallies Boston20170816_Billy-Penn_Philly-is-Charlottesville-Rally_D750_170-1024x576


One of the striking things about photographs of these rallies visually is how dominated they are by white people. But you really can’t overestimate how much a major story of the 21st century has been gentrification, if you define it as the move of young, college-educated whites back into central cities after the decline of crime from the early 90s peak.  Here are two graphs, based on the Census’s Current Population Survey:


That’s a roughly 25% increase in less than 15 years in the percentage of young (under 40) college educated whites living in central cities.  Gentrifiers also are higher-earners than non-gentrifiers, which wasn’t true before:


Over this same period as the number of gentrifiers greatly increased, racial wage gaps (in 2014 $s per hour) did not appreciably shrink in cities:


Regardless of how Trump and his supporters (or Black Lives Matters or other movements before Trump’s presidency) have or have not stoked the fires of racial discord, the mere fact of these gaps during a period of rapid gentrification is going to create some tension. A larger section of the well-off of the society depends on at least a surface appearance of racial comity and urban peace than has since before decades of mass suburbanization. Undoubtedly, the vast majority of those attending rallies are sincerely committed to anti-racism (survey data suggests that the percentage of educated whites holding explicit racial attitudes has never been lower), but they also have, as is said, some skin in the game.

5 thoughts on “Reasons for Rallies

  1. Additionally the “gentrifiers” benefit from “racist” police tactics such as broken windows.

    I suspect that many of the college educated whites recognize the “victims” of gentrification (if not, WNYC has been broadcasting about it for years) and attending these rallies is a way to convince themselves that they are not the “real racists”.


  2. Living in a progressive leftopia city, I’m familiar with a number of these regulars at these resistance rallies. Almost without exception they are seculars and atheists. This is not a normative judgment, but it seems like all these demonstrations are some subconscious substitute for the gap left by church or other community institutions. Instead of bowling alone, they’re papering over the anomie by becoming regulars at the frequent two-minute-hate the hater rallies.

    That and the commercially organized public endurance challenges like marathons and fun mud runs…


  3. For years the anti-gentrification groups have gotten a very sympathetic response to their protest movements, which have in essence demanded, “You will not replace us!”


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