Introducing The Earth, the City, and the Hidden Narrative of Race by Carl C. Anthony
Since boyhood I dreamed of writing a book with solutions to racial inequities plaguing urban African Americans. Over the years my perspective has grown broader and more clear. My book seems to be reaching publication at a good time.
The Urban Environment
Cities have grown and changed dramatically during the past few centuries. Careful examination reveals how slavery and exploitation fueled that growth. More and more stories are coming to light of how the enforced labor of people of color built the infrastructure and economy of the modern world.
The Emancipation Proclamation was greeted with a surge of creative energy. Freedmen built their own churches, schools, and even black towns. They gathered in conventions to organize for political power. Whites, resentful over losing the economic benefit that slavery provided, reacted with unjust laws criminalizing blacks, mob violence, and the demeaning and oppressive Jim Crow system that led several million African Americans to join the Great Migration to cities in the North and West where they encountered new forms of discrimination and exploitation.
The real estate industry developed codes to keep black people out of white neighborhoods. The booming automobile industry and massive government investment in highways fueled white flight to the suburbs. Banks practiced “redlining,” excluding residents of black neighborhoods from loans for property improvements and repairs and from favorable terms for mortgages. My family purchased a very nice home when I was a young boy, but it had become a ghetto by my teenage years. Today the gentrification of inner cities is raising housing costs and driving out people of color.
The influx of immigrants fleeing war and poverty throughout the world raises the pace of urbanization and places enormous pressures on water, food, energy resources, and the global climate. Issues of inequality, public health, poverty, and violence move front and center, as millions of people seeking opportunities to survive, and hopefully to thrive, pour into shantytowns surrounding the burgeoning cities of developing countries. In the United States and other developed countries, structures of spatial segregation in urban regions isolate poor people from beneficial economic activities and increase inequality.
A New Story for Humanity
It is time we leave behind the myth of progress based on white supremacy and exploitation of people and environments. Instead we must engage in a unified effort to heal communities harmed by racial injustice and work together to repair our damaged ecosystems and social networks. Key encounters and experiences throughout my life have left me with a hopeful vision of people uniting across divides of race, class, nationality, faith, and culture. I learned from cultural historian Thomas Berry a new story that gave me a sense of belonging – that people and all forms of life can trace our heritage back to the “Flaring Forth” of the universe.
I hope this book will inspire readers to reflect on their own stories and those of their ancestors and share them verbally and in print. We belong to a single species inside a global ecosystem. Listening to one another’s stories with deep respect and empathy, especially histories previously ignored, builds trust. We find strength in our common humanity. Now is the time for people of different backgrounds, experiences, and histories to share our diverse cultural traditions and work together to bring beauty, comfort, and excitement into the world.