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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Wednesday Questions

Post your questions by noon on Wednesday. Remember to include some context to connect your question directly to Urban Form and Racial Order, the reading suggested to us by Rich Schein. 

20 comments:

  1. ven before I reached Rich’s discussion of the racial make-up of the North Side of contemporary Lexington, I was struck by similarities between the urban development that took place at the beginning of the 20th century (development based on deliberate racial exclusion, which we now unanimously decry) and the contemporary (re)development of the North Side, specifically along the Jefferson and the North Limestone corridors (development often described as revitalization). Concerning the beginning of the 20th century, Rich quotes a 1901 Lexington Herald-Leader article that explains “lots can only be sold to white purchasers and occupied by white citizens” (952). This may be different largely in the degree of overtness from the (re)development currently happening on North Limestone, where African American working-class tenants and owners appear to be replaced by white creatives and professionals. Similar to the language currently used with redevelopment projects across the country, this is called “revitalization” or “creative place-making.” Indeed, Rich goes on to describe the current stage of the racial formation of Lexington as one of “redevelopment and gentrification projects that have solidified race and class developments in the inner city, resulting in the emergence of metropolitan-scale patterns of segregation” (955).

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  2. Like a lot of other readers, I imagine, I really appreciate the note on which Schein ends his essay. After detailing the ways in which racial separation and segregation have been part of the built landscape of Lexington from the very beginning, he points out that racial formation is part of a racial project, an ongoing (re)negotiation of race relations and, therefore, always in the process of being reformulated (957). As if in anticipation of readers’ “Can anything be done?” question, Schein finishes by stating that understanding the racialized landscape of cities is a condition “for intervening in urban racial formation” (958). In other words, by writing about Lexington’s past, Schein invites us to try to reimagine Lexington’s future.
    As a faculty member at Transylvania University, which Schein repeatedly describes as an elite institution (where elite signals exclusive, based on white privilege), I feel called to reimagine specifically Transylvania’s future. Rich’s essay implicitly asks for a Transylvania University that is less exclusive, less elite, and more welcoming of the racial diversity in the midst of which it exists. I have a hard time imagining that. Because of the price of admission to Transylvania and because of the University’s racial history (which is apparent in many ways, not the least of which is the name of the Clay Davis dorm on campus), overcoming that history seems near impossible. Therefore, I would appreciate it if others shared their efforts at reimagining a better Transylvania.

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  3. On page 956, Schein discusses how, in the past, the intermixing of black and white people was not infrequent, as "knowing one's social place did not require spatial segregation," but later this became a problem once the proportion of freed slaves raised substantially. This fear of blackness and the desire to avoid it is something I wish we could address more directly with Transylvania at its core. Only recently has the administration stopped formally discouraging students from going North, but informally the actions and results are still the same.
    I was spending time in the ceramics basement where I heard someone singing a silly song. I decided not to speak up, since I didn't want to embarrass them, but they noticed me - it was a man working on the janitorial staff named EJ. He laughed and said I should've told him I was there, and proceeded to ask me about some of the work I'd been doing. We talked about how being able to make and perform special things was always up to how available opportunities were made for you, not because you were a better person. He wondered if I could show him how to make a cup during his break, so we spent a while making lumpy cylinders, and he told me he used to do gymnastics. EJ, like 99% of our janitors at Transy, is black. He asked about our birdhouses, what they were supposed to mean, and I tried telling him about our class as a whole. He told me that he lived on North Broadway, and was glad we were trying to reach out somehow. He also told me that students purposefully take alternate paths just so they don't have to walk close to him. "I'm a really nice guy but people just look at me and walk in a big circle around me." He wondered why our class was only made of 12 people, why more of the school wasn't asked to be involved, since it's a much bigger problem we're causing than is made up of the 12 of us. This is a question I have too, how we can involve the whole school in a genuine way without seeming superficial and intrusive.

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    1. Part of this change, I know, takes place at the administrative level, where there should be more than 3 non-white professors hired, more than 0 black ones, and less than 99% black janitors. But this is sadly among many of the problems that don't seem to be getting better at a very fast rate. So much change needs to occur that it becomes very overwhelming when trying to think of a way to tackle any of it. I'm having trouble figuring out anything that I could possibly do, anyone I could possibly influence in any way to make the problem we perpetrate at Transylvania any better.

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  4. I really appreciated this article and how much it revealed about Lexington's past. I also really loved how Schein ended this essay, and I think my biggest question would be how in his opinion does he think our community as a whole needs to move to slowly begin making a difference. I liked how he said, " the future is not fixed even as it is understood to be linked to the
    urban past" and I think this is something really, really important to remember especially when you think about how difficult this issue is to over come.

    I wrote a response to Kristen's question and then it got deleted and never posted. But I really appreciated her question and I think it brings up a very important part of our small community at Transy. I think, since we are in CETA, it is hard to look at the classism and racism in Lexington and our surrounding neighborhoods without specifically looking at it through the lens of a Transy faculty member or student. But I think a majority of our schools population is not looking hard enough, and we need to begin addressing this issue head on rather than acting like it's OK because it is just something that goes on in the background subtly. Because neither side (unfortunately, their tends to be sides) between the neighborhood and Transy are not stupid. We both know what is going on, and Transy does not want to address it because it would admit a negative image and the neighborhood seems to feel like their is no hope in reaching out to us. How do we go about solving this issue? I think we need to create an open discussion between our neighbors and within our community - our community on the larger scale, because that is what we should be. Not just to groups of people living side by side pretending or fearing that the other is there.

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  5. I hate to leave a comment that sours anyone’s impression of this literature but I get strong impression that this article was not meant for us to read. By “us”, I mean Transylvanian students. Schein makes it perfectly clear that we are considered part of this high society, an extension of to the Hampton Court in question, which is racializing the community in Lexington. I believe Schein says specifically that “Transylvania still exists as an elite [and] private, liberal arts college”, implying that we are and always have been exclusive of our Lexington neighbors (Schein, p951). What is sad is that has been fairly true in the past. Our first African American student to enroll was only in 1963. There are still only maybe only two dozen multi-cultural students per graduating class. And as Kristen mentioned above, as freshman we are told by friends or our Department of Public safety not to venture to far off campus in the wrong direction. But here is the truth of the matter, when you are a student at Transylvania and you have close friends that have been assaulted in the surrounding Lexington area, you tend to be more cautious in the surrounding neighborhoods. It has nothing to do with being an “elite” student at an “elite” school that makes you avoid shifty neighborhoods; it is just good sense not to walk in places where many incidents like this have happened. But here is the important part of all this: these excuses don’t stop us from crossing into the other side of Fourth Street. Because we do not fear the “black” areas of the neighborhood as much as you might think. This article, only three years old now is already out of date to the amount of change happening between Lexington and Transylvania. DPS no longer gives direct warnings to avoiding streets off Transylvania’s campus. And, more and more students come to Transylvania from high schools in the immediate area. All I can say is that we are definitely trying to change our image and our behavior. I just hate that this article leaves such a bad taste in my mouth about how Lexington feels about Transylvania. We are not all what they say about us. Many students here are not elite, just making enough money to get by. Additionally, many of our students are far more diverse people than simply what their race is. I guess if I had one question to pose to the class, I would want to know if anyone else feels this article shines a far more negative light on our role as a University in the Lexington racial division issue. Are we really that elite?

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    1. Cali, I disagree that this article wasn't meant for us to read. Isn't it important to be aware of how we are being received? Even if we disagree with the perception of us, the views of our university by those outside of it are still valid and need to be considered rather than dismissed. How can we be expected to make things better if we are not meant to be an audience for the criticisms about us? I think everyone in Lexington was meant to read this, really. I especially think those who are living in places that perpetuate the harmful boundaries are meant to read this, Transy students included.

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    2. I think this article is actually incredibly delicate in regards to Transy's relationship with our surrounding neighborhoods. Elite may not be the best word, but regardless of students personal financial standings within our university, the university as a whole does a terrible job at educating students about equality and respect in the real world, especially in regards to our standing with the neighborhood.

      Not all DPS officers are the same, but freshman are still taught to not go into the North Lime area. As an RA, I was present through all of August Term and it was disturbing the amount of negative and judgmental comments that were made from faculty and DPS towards the surrounding neighborhoods. And even more disturbing, a few (not all) august term scholars and other RAs would tell their peers not to go near that area, to never walk alone, and then proceed to make jokes about being raped and mugged. And yes, I agree, there is a certain level of safety concern in regards to this idea of fear and worry towards this neighborhood. But you can get assaulted, robbed, and raped anywhere. How many robberies happen in Lexington's suburbs? Closer to downtown? By UK? Nowhere is "safe". And that's life, so in my opinion that is not an excuse to completely avoid and ostracize a neighborhood.

      I think a major fault of Transy is that we do not want to look at the things wrong with us. Mostly starting with the administration, and then it trickles down, we are taught and practice hiding and rewording our issues so we feel better about ourselves and also create a "better" image to the outside world. But that image is made towards a very specific audience, and that audience does not include the surrounding neighborhoods.

      I think more students, faculty and staff at Transy need to openly discuss this issue, in the most blunt way possible. Even if it makes us uncomfortable, we need that uneasiness to grow.

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  6. Richard/Dr. Schein

    First, I would like to thank you for writing an academia article that is in-depth yet does not require a dictionary for every five other words (looking at you, science academia).

    It was interesting to see things that could be seen qualitatively in this region (clash of rich/poor housing, segregated sections, etc.) and be backed up with empirical evidence. The big question I personally have is are there any examples of racially integrated southern cities? While slavery has been long abolished, the city plans seems to leave a haunting imprint on the city itself.

    Also you mentioned there are equivalents to "Hampton Court Gates" in other cities. Care to give some more examples (out of curiosity)?

    Also, curious to hear from you about it, but do western states have somewhat of an advantage in integration of races since they became established later than the eastern side of the US? I am basing this question off of the data presented in this article. http://www.wired.com/2013/08/how-segregated-is-your-city-this-eye-opening-map-shows-you/#slideid-210281
    Although it only has parts of Washington and California, I am curious to see maps for other west side states.

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  7. You made it clear in the paper that you used Lexington as an example of a southern town with racism built into the geography. Have you studied other southern cities that have made more progress in getting rid of these literal and metaphorical gates segregating people? It would be interesting to see how other cities, perhaps younger ones, look in comparison.

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  8. It was a very new experience learning about the past of Lexington. You learn about the racist institutions at work in America but at least personally I never considered how they had been applied right here in Lexington. I mean, of course I knew they had been, but seeing it all in facts and figures was eye-opening and I am very grateful for the chance to finally read an article like this. As many people have stated above, reading this without the lens of Transy is near impossible. Dr. Schein discusses how Transy still exists as an elite presence in the community, and no matter how we as students feel in perhaps the most engaging section of Transy (CETA) feel, it is important to be aware of how we are being perceived. I would just like to ask what Dr. Schein thinks of what our class is doing. If he sees it as an elite presence still or if he appreciates our efforts of inclusion and engagement, and if he has any tips on how to make our presence in this neighborhood less private.

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  9. I enjoyed the historical aspect of this article. Delving into the past in order to understand the future is a key aspect of the way people cope with a myriad of different things. I liked how the historical aspect hit home. It is extremely interesting to think about how the city has morphed around these racial boundaries historically. Understanding that these historical boundaries are not just part of our present but have been historically an issue. I hope that when people read an article like this or any other articles talking about the systematic issues of urban landscapes and the white vs black dilemma in America, that they don’t cop it by saying that since it is so historically engrained that there is nothing for me to do. Some people may take this historical segregation of blacks and whites as a comfort because it doesn’t seem like that now. However we see that it is like that and that our presence as an elite part of the community is a historical thing. As individuals we have to perceive this as an issue on an individual level with the information that we are given. Information like Scheins gives us the information that can either validate our comfort ability with divisions between blacks and whites or we can use it as a tool to be aware of our own agency. Hopefully we can eventually create an urban landscape where racial formation is both looking at the past and the future to create a safer and more cultured environment for all.

    So, my question ultimately is: when writing an article like this are you wary of how people will perceive it and use the information given? Some people will use the past to validate or comfort their own ignorance. Others will stock it up to be such a historical part of American urban communities that we shouldn’t apply more modern and socially aware ways of designing boundaries.

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  10. There has been a lot of talk regarding Transylvania in many other comments and questions, but I feel like something we are leaving out is the history of Transylvania. We were founded in 1780, and have been in a similar location. How has Transylvania being here in this area affected the migration of this area, from the time it was founded. Today it is an a university with a primarily white student body, who fear the surrounding areas, but it also was a medical school and law school in part of it's history, and I am sure there has been a constantly shifting dynamic in the area surrounding Transylvania.

    A more simple form, with less rambling is that Transy has been here far before you mentioned it in the article. What is the greater influence that Transy has had on the area.

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  11. "Lexington’s platted layout facilitated not only commercial speculation and trade, but also a pattern of urban semi-agricultural residence in which larger compound-like houses included among their outbuildings and gardens accommodations for the slaves who had been among the first Lexingtonians on their westward journey."

    Is there a city that you would consider strictly residential?

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  12. I am late to the party, and it seems every decent question I had has already been conjured up by my fellow classmates.

    A call to change has been made in our society. That is one thing that I can tell. Right now it is an uphill battle of race, class, etc. We (us having this conversation) want more diversity, more inclusion, and less separation. My question to you and everyone else is how will we know when we achieve this? Will we accomplish more as those who fight against it die off and we (the rising generation) are left with a majority for it? I know not the most tactful question, but you have a better chance of that happening than everyone realizing "Oh gee, I was wrong." at age 80.

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  13. This article to me, showed the shifts that happen within a community or city throughout time. But why do these shifts of power and basic selfishness happen? What or who is allowing these people to think that they have the right or power to further their own agenda? An example of this is the riots that happened throughout the country because of furgeson. What happened in Furgeson motivated people and communities to stand up and say that they have a voice and even power to make a social justice act. My question is what will this look like after generations have past? There has been a huge shift pre and post Civil War of the expectations of people due to gender or race. What will the major context, mindset and power roles shift again and how will that manifest into the city of Lexington?

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  14. The distinction this article makes between spatial and psychological segregation is especially interesting to me – so much of the tension on our own campus seems to stem from this same desire to distinguish ourselves as students and faculty from many of the staff members and certainly the neighborhood residents we see on our walks across campus every day. If increased proximity of these disparate groups does little to alleviate this tension, what does? What role do the arts have to play in building bridges and facilitating conversation within these communities like North side of Lexington that are characterized in the present by diverse socioeconomic and ethnic populations?

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  15. The distinction this article makes between spatial and psychological segregation is especially interesting to me – so much of the tension on our own campus seems to stem from this same desire to distinguish ourselves as students and faculty from many of the staff members and certainly the neighborhood residents we see on our walks across campus every day. If increased proximity of these disparate groups does little to alleviate this tension, what does? What role do the arts have to play in building bridges and facilitating conversation within these communities like North side of Lexington that are characterized in the present by diverse socioeconomic and ethnic populations?

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  16. It seems that architecture and city planning serve as major influences in the reinforcement of urban segregation. Trans's own campus validates this point. The campus opens to the south, with Old Morrison facing the Gratz Park subdivision. Meanwhile, the southern border of campus is met with many tall brick walls, adorned with many windows, but few doors. However, Lexington is a city that is proud of its cultural history and the way it is told in our buildings today. Therefore, how can we put an end to urban segregation that results from city planning and architecture, while also maintaining the tradition and culture of urban Lexington?

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  17. There has been a lot of talk regarding Transylvania in many other comments and questions, but I feel like something we are leaving out is the history of Transylvania. We were founded in 1780, and have been in a similar location. How has Transylvania being here in this area affected the migration of this area, from the time it was founded. Today it is an a university with a primarily white student body, who fear the surrounding areas, but it also was a medical school and law school in part of it's history, and I am sure there has been a constantly shifting dynamic in the area surrounding Transylvania.

    A more simple form, with less rambling is that Transy has been here far before you mentioned it in the article. What is the greater influence that Transy has had on the area.

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