Tuesday, January 6, 2015

White Flight and the Future of the Mississippi Delta

Thoughts on How White Flight Ravaged the Mississippi Delta, new in The Atlantic.

1. Very few white people are going to choose to devote their lives to expiating the guilt of their ancestors, when they can move to Tampa or Phoenix. The implicit demand here is for racial noblesse oblige without racial privilege. Ain't going to happen.
2. You can build a business with very little financial capital, if you have strong social capital -- just look at the Koreans in LA, or the Jew peddlers become retailers of an earlier era in the Delta. But Black social trust networks were done in by integration, especially by the quick way into the middle class offered by expanding public employment for educated Black women.
3. To make Black life better in the Delta, you need to find a way to make money in the Delta that improves the human and social capital of Black men. That is to say, you need to reverse "the end of work." This is a hard problem, and the Delta is I think, a hard place to try to fix it. A free enterprise zone with no minimum wage for manufacturing workers and strong "right to work" laws might help, but is a hard sell politically given its resemblance to peonage.