The Legacy of Black Lives Matter Will Be Gentrification
Minority-owned businesses are the big loser, big developers will be the winner
Whenever someone asks you to affirm something you have never questioned in the first place, you are being manipulated. I feel this way when people ask me, “do you believe Israel has a right to exist?” It’s just not something I’ve ever questioned, and I confess I don’t see it as a matter of abstract rights, really, but of realities. Israel exists, and we have to deal with that. People who ask this question are usually just opposed to the idea of putting any conditions on Israeli behavior.
I feel the same way about Black Lives Matter. If you had asked me in 2015 whether I thought black lives mattered, I would have looked at you a little puzzled. Of course they do, it’s not something I’ve ever questioned. Why are you asking me to affirm this?
Now that the heat of the moment has died down, let’s look a little more closely at what the legacy of that movement is going to be. Catherine Austin Fitts is a controversial figure. But she’s also a tough lady with a lot of experience, so I don’t dismiss what she says out of hand—in fact, if her analysis of government fraud is true, we have to rethink a lot of assumptions about how our government really works. I was debating whether to post this for that reason, but I decided to go for it. The map above is from her firm’s analysis here.
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I have no interest in rehashing the debates over BLM, everyone is already so set in their ways that there’s no point. Anyway, I just find this too sad.
What I am going to tell you is something Jane Jacobs might have said: these inner-city minority neighborhoods are fragile and precious, and the legacy of the BLM riots is going to be the destruction of them.
Take a look at the map above, of downtown Minneapolis. The X’s are buildings burned down, and the yellow areas are opportunity zones, which provide tax advantages for development. Notice anything? Many of the X’s represent minority-owned businesses.
Fitts’ analysts ask four questions:
Will middle class businesses and families flee to the perceived security of Red States?
Will any of these small businesses rebuild under the current economic / geopolitical conditions?
Will Wall St. firms, including those that have raised Opportunity Zone funds, buy up these small business concerns or real estate at war zone prices? With public QE funds?
What will be the socioeconomic impact for those that remain?
If you wanted to get conspiratorial about this, you could argue it’s a textbook example of high-low politics: wealthy elites weaponizing a criminal element against minority small business owners, and cashing in afterward through tax-advantaged development. When you consider how easy it is to generate a protest, you sort of have to look at it that way. Behind the support for BLM shown by almost every major financial institution is raw self-interest.
There’s also maybe a foreign influence angle to this too: real estate development is rotten with money laundering, and one of the places foreigners like to stick their cash. That this is all happening in Ilhan Omar’s district is quite interesting: she is, due to her Somali ancestry, on the opposite side of Chinese and Israeli interests in East Africa. While Republicans were happy to do the Israel lobby’s bidding in removing her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, grinning behind the curtain was Xi Jinping. In a few years, once redevelopment happens, she might get turfed out. In the meantime, new urbanists will have pretty new buildings to blog about.
I probably don’t need to tell you how ironic it is that the legacy of the Summer of George Floyd is going to be the destruction of minority-owned neighborhoods and the imperiling of a black congresswoman’s seat.
As I said at the time, there was clearly more to the George Floyd case than meets the eye. Everyone was distracted by the question of the guilt or innocence of Derek Chauvin, who if you look at his finances, was almost certainly crooked. Both the fentanyl and the counterfeits George Floyd was passing were, in all likelihood, Chinese. In the initial reporting by the New York Times, a woman affiliated with the American Indian Movement said the “ink was still wet” on the counterfeit, which was contradicted by the crime scene photos of other counterfeits—the actual bill he passed was never produced.
The purpose of journalism these days is to put on a sort of show for the public to cheer on, like professional sports or something, so nobody ever follows up on details like this that contradict what we’re supposed to think. There’s a funny bifurcation, where the left has environmental and racial justice reporters, and the right has energy and crime reporters. I kind of agree with the idea that objectivity is an untenable ideal, but what should follow is publications embracing a multiplicity of biases, which of course none of them have done.
In any case “crime” is not really the lens I use to look at this stuff, I see it as political and economic warfare being waged in the United States. Libertarians who are both pro-developer and looked the other way at the arson and property damage are dangerously close to the logic of the forest fire: burn it down to make way for new growth.