Racialized public policies further concentrated poverty in central cities across the nation, necessitating the continued deconstruction and redevelopment of the “slums” staging the next sequence of dramatic acts in Black women’s history of resistance. In most discussions of inner-city renewal, Black women are framed as objects for study: single mothers, "welfare queens," drug addicts, and other stereotypes abound, situating these women at best as victims, at worst as sources of urban decay. But Black women share a long legacy of urban activism in local neighborhoods that, if recognized, could shift the conversations that shape the urban renewal agenda. My research complicates the study of race, gender, and urban politics by centering Black women’s activist experiences to better understand how communities experience and resist the racialized legacies of housing segregation, redlining, and concentrated poverty in North Minneapolis, MN. By magnifying how Black women “talk back” within a competitive urban context framed by dominant material and political interests I shed new light on the ways that Black women undermine the states claim for regulatory control over Black urban space. I investigate Black women's actions in: (1) public housing; (2) community economic development; and (3) efforts to utilize neighborhood associations as participatory empowerment bodies for all those affected by urban transformation. All of these domains of neighborhood resilience and renewal have been influenced by hegemonic urban renewal discourse, policies, and practices. My research explains how this discourse has shaped a political environment that does not invite rigorous debate and critique by all affected residents. Yet, politically engaged urban Black women continue to challenge these restrictive forms of privatized political engagement exposing uneven landscapes of power. As such, my dissertation asks the following questions: (1) How can the strategic political actions of urban Black women challenge dominant power and its discursive frame, particularly when Black women are often framed as culprits in urban decay? (2) What social, political, and/or economic barriers hamper Black women’s efforts to reframe the urban renewal agenda considering local histories of urban development (and underdevelopment) as well as the intersections of race, class, gender, and gentrification? And (3) what can we learn about citizen participation and the limits of dominant frameworks for urban renewal by centering the resistant innovations of Black women activists?
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2015. Major: Feminist Studies. Advisors: Eden Torres, Catherine Squires. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 243 pages.
Manufacturing Urban America: Politically Engaged Urban Black Women, Renewed Forms of Political Censorship, and Uneven Landscapes of Power in North Minneapolis, Minnesota.
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