"Keep Austin Weird" = "Keep Austin White": Where are the Black Professionals?

How can these cities succeed without black people?

Austin, the capital of Texas, is a nice place to live, work, and play.  It was recently rated as the best city in America to live in by Kiplinger [10 Best Cities for the Next Decade/They 10 metro area cities are prosperous, innovative and generate plenty of jobs, too.,Kiplinger, July 2010]:

1. Austin, Tex.
Austin is arguably the the country’s best crucible for small business, offering a dozen community programs that form a neural network of business brainpower to help entrepreneurs. Now overlay that net with a dozen venture-capital funds and 20 or so business associations, plus incubators, educational opportunities and networking events. Mix all these elements in what many call a classless society, where hippie communalism coexists with no-nonsense capitalism, and you’ve got a breeding ground for start-ups.


Don’t discount the fun factor: In the self-proclaimed live-music capital of the world, music and business creativity riff off one another. The city’s famous South by Southwest festival, where concerts, independent film screenings and emerging technology overlap, is a prime example.

Forbes calls it “America’s best city for young adults.” And in 2011, Bloomberg BusinessWeek rated Austin as one of the top 50 cities in America to live.

But therein lies the problem of praising Austin; if you want to “Keep Austin Weird” then it looks like you’ll have to keep it white [The White City, New Geography, 10-18-2009]:

Among the media, academia and within planning circles, there’s a generally standing answer to the question of what cities are the best, the most progressive and best role models for small and mid-sized cities. The standard list includes Portland, Seattle, Austin, Minneapolis, and Denver. In particular, Portland is held up as a paradigm, with its urban growth boundary, extensive transit system, excellent cycling culture, and a pro-density policy.

These cities are frequently contrasted with those of the Rust Belt and South, which are found wanting, often even by locals, as “cool” urban places.

But look closely at these exemplars and a curious fact emerges. If you take away the dominant Tier One cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles you will find that the “progressive” cities aren’t red or blue, but another color entirely: white.

In fact, not one of these “progressive” cities even reaches the national average for African American percentage population in its core county. Perhaps not progressiveness but whiteness is the defining characteristic of the group.

You won’t find any of these “progressive” cities (read: white cities) on the list of “most dangerous cities in America” — with 2012’s list including Detroit (90% black), Birmingham (74% black), Memphis (67% black), Baltimore (65% black), Atlanta (53% black, but with virtually crime committed by blacks), and St. Louis (51% black).

No, Austin is an actual nice place to live, even though Aaron M. Renn in his piece The White City bemoans that it can’t be properly called “progressive” without a high percentage of black people:

This raises troubling questions about these cities. Why is it that progressivism in smaller metros is so often associated with low numbers of African Americans? Can you have a progressive city properly so-called with only a disproportionate handful of African Americans in it? In addition, why has no one called these cities on it?

 Would anyone call Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis, Baltimore, Cleveland, Buffalo, St. Louis, Oakland, Detroit or Stockton “progressive”? Since blacks became the majority of these cities, the only word that can be used to describe the state of these cities is “regressive”. 

Each of these cities is filled to the brim with black professionals and a entrenched black political class in complete control of public jobs; it could be argued that the state of each of these cities economies, dependent on that black professional private class to create jobs and stimulate the economy has utterly failed at that task. Indeed, if not for public jobs, would there be a black middle class in any of these cities?

Which brings us to this hilarious article, which simultaneously sheds light on the lack of black professionals in Austin (exposing that black people have virtually nothing to do ensuring Austin economy continues to grow  and that the city works to attract the best and brightest minds) and illustrates the incredible incentives the federal government has mandated for those companies that can find precious black talent to promote in exchange for lucrative contracts [Austin struggling to recruit, retain black professionals, American-Statesman, 10-27-2012]:

Central Texas is a fixture on national lists as one of the best places to live, work, start a business or retire. The region, according to its press clippings, is attractive whether you are young and single, gay or straight, or a retired couple.

But not necessarily if you are black.

“We’re on all those lists, but I’m not aware of Austin being on a list for African-Americans,” said Ashton Cumberbatch Jr., chairman of the Capital City African-American Chamber of Commerce. “Austin has never been marketed to blacks.”

As Central Texas’ population has skyrocketed, the number of African-Americans increased, but their share of the region’s population kept falling — from 9.2 percent in 1980 to 7.0 percent in the 2010 census. By comparison, blacks account for 11.5 percent of the state population. At the same time, the city of Austin has seen a decline in the number of African-Americans as they move to the suburbs for cheaper housing, better schools and the chance to integrate into the broader community.

The black flight to the suburbs is part of a national trend, according to demographers, but Central Texas’ largest employers have reported having difficulty in attracting and retaining black professionals because the newcomers feel isolated from the black culture they experienced in cities with larger African-American populations.

“They were being attracted to Austin companies but the firms were having trouble retaining them after two years,” said Mike Rollins, president and CEO of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. “The challenge still remains. It’s something that Austin and others in our region should be well aware of.”

Rollins created a diversity task force almost three years ago at the request of some of the area’s larger employers. It focused on single, black professionals between the ages of 25 and 40, gathering anecdotal information in focus groups, before handing it off to the Capital City African-American Chamber of Commerce.

Natalie Madeira Cofield, 31, who moved to Austin a year ago from Washington, D.C., understands the issue at a personal level. But as president and CEO of the Capital City chamber, she also thinks the chamber can do something about it. She said the Austin business community has welcomed her and her chamber’s agenda.

“The business and professional community really are wanting black people here,” she said. “If I were in D.C., I don’t know if I would have gotten that kind of engagement from the same companies, because it’s easy to take for granted the (African-American) population because of its sheer size” in Washington.

Cofield said she worries that African-Americans could miss out on opportunities in what she considers the cities of innovation: Silicon Valley, Seattle, Denver, San Francisco and Austin.

“The cities of America’s tomorrows are no longer the hubs of African-Americans,” she said. “It’s not the Detroits. It’s no longer New Orleans. D.C. is always government; that’s cool, but that’s not innovation.”

Central Texas is not alone on this issue. In 2011, blacks represented only 5.9 percent of the workers in professional, scientific and technical services industries nationally, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Even Silicon Valley, a magnet for tech workers, struggles to retain black professionals. That region’s share of black professionals in the valley’s 10 largest tech companies dropped 16 percent between 2000 and 2008, according to a 2012 report by the San Jose Mercury News.

There’s a business case for attracting more black professionals.

The federal government, for example, spends almost $80 billion a year on technology alone and has diversity hiring targets for companies doing business with government. That’s a huge carrot for a technology center such as Austin.

Likewise, selling to the consumer market requires reaching a multicultural audience. Almost half of recent births, for example, are minorities, according to the 2010 census.
“If you want to talk to new moms, you need to know who you are talking to,” said Austin advertising veteran Bob Wingo. “The browning of America is happening.”
Dell Inc. had employees on Rollins’ diversity task force and sponsors many events or organizations for African-Americans in Central Texas.

“Diversity at Dell is a business imperative,” said company spokeswoman Jenny Robertson. “Our work force comes from more than 80 countries and brings together different languages, backgrounds, cultures, talents, career experiences and ways of thinking that help us reach customers and communities around the globe.”

 How can we explain Austin’s success when we have been conditioned from birth that only through the tireless efforts of black people has America become the superpower she is today? It just does not compute.

But the quote about the cities of America’s tomorrow no longer being hubs for blacks is important to note: Detroit’s best days were when the city was 85 percent white in 1950; it was through the “Manifest Destruction” of the great black migration from the south that cities like Rochester, Gary, St. Louis, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Buffalo, and Milwaukee were inundated with black residents seeking a better life. Instead, they imported the same urban blight that has turned Birmingham, Atlanta, and Memphis into such ripe opportunities for gentrification today, with property values befitting the majority black population found inhabiting the area.

Washington D.C. is a city of the tomorrow, with blacks being pushed into Prince George’s County. With the exiling of blacks to Maryland (via a rise in property value and rental rates that black people can’t afford), crime rates are strangely dropping in the nation’s capital city, opening the door for families to live in the city without fear of murder, rape, robbery, or assault.

Whites are moving back in. What’s interesting is that SBPDL readers already know that without federal, state, county, or city jobs (any public job), there would be absolutely no black middle class. The only innovation found in the black community is highlighted in shows like The Wire, with gangbangers coming up with intricate manners in which to sell drugs and remain a few steps ahead of the police.

In the next few years, we are going to see a seismic shift in American domestic policy: Disingenuous White Liberals (DWL) will shift to joining the ranks of Those Who Can See. They will be the ones who realize the importance of restrictive covenants, as black-controlled cities (or cities with large populations of blacks dependent on welfare and state for their well-being) like Detroit, Memphis, Chicago, Atlanta, and Birmingham slip into default.

It’s a story like the one published in the Austin newspaper that shows how unnecessary black people are to the economic engine that powers America; in fact, it illustrates the hindrance they represent to the future success of American cities.

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