Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Globalization and African-American Neighborhoods

An effective way to map globalization is to track foreign-direct investment flows. Inside the United States, an effective way to map globalization is to track real estate developer investment flows. Where investment fears to tread marks a devastating dearth of global jobs. Employment is sporadic and wages are low.

Within a city or metro region, Richey Piiparinen identifies two types of neighborhoods: core and gap. He's employing a geopolitical model developed by Thomas Barnett. Core countries are well globalized. Those in the gap suffer from a lack of globalization. Usually, globalization is framed as benefiting some at the expense of others. This zero-sum Marxist view misunderstands the geography.

Disconnected people reside in disconnected countries and neighborhoods. Only the people who stay put suffer from the lack of globalization. Richey explores such places in Baltimore and Cleveland. Even in shrinking Rust Belt cities, globalization is unleashed. In much of Cleveland, such a claim is obviously ridiculous. However, in Pittsburgh, community development practitioners recognize that vacancy and blight live cheek by jowl with gentrification. Every city has some core neighborhoods and a lot of gap.

How can we address this divide? People living in the gap can be connected to global jobs (transit) and investment (e.g. better schools). While such changes are necessary, they are insufficient. Globalization is a product of migration. Macroeconomic forces follow people. The Fullbright program has a diversity problem:

The Fulbright program, run by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is widely seen as a prime opportunity to add international experience to one’s résumé. Despite the bureau’s increased efforts to diversify the pool of grantees in recent years, though, the program also has a reputation of being overwhelmingly white.

International experience helps make a person into an agent of globalization, a harbinger of investment. The State Department could be a major playing in addressing Cleveland's core-gap disparity. The Fullbright program should seek only minority applicants living in gap neighborhoods as way to connect isolated communities with global prosperity.

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