Race, Class, and Suburbia: The Modern Black Suburb as a ‘Race-Making Situation’

In her Article, Professor Wiggins discusses the complex social phenomenon of “Black suburbanization, ” focusing on the commercial “disinvestment” in and around predominately Black suburbs. She traces the historical relationship between Black Americans and the suburbs, and describes in detail the commercial disinvestment in two contemporary Black suburbs, Prince George’s County, Maryland, and south DeKalb, Georgia. In her Article, she offers possible explanations for disinvestment, including the application of protective zoning; inefficient zoning laws and practices; prior investment decisions; demographic explanations; and independent effects .of race. Wiggins analyzes some of the resulting negative social and economic consequences, including a sense of relative deprivation among Black suburbanites, economic impairment, and the functioning of these communities as “race-making situations,” and concludes by proposing a multi-targeted approach to addressing the challenges posed by commercial disinvestment in Black suburban communities.