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Old 04-07-2010, 12:51 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beachmouse View Post
It's interesting how my Dutch but working class maternal grandmother seemed to have a knack for being the last white person in the neighborhood. Up until the early 70s when grandpa died, I want to say they were right on the SE/SW line not too far from Division. Mom and her siblings went to South High School, which had a pretty high black population back then based on the yearbook photos.

Side note, it was apparently a pretty big deal when Mom left the CRC in the 60s and converted to Catholic when she married the guy with -skey at the end of his name. It was also kind of interesting to watch the assumptions about different ethnic groups because there was (and still is to some degree) the vibe about the Dutch being the arrogant overlords of everything even though Dad's side of the family was more well off than Mom's side was.

Then Grandma Van... ended up selling the house for essentially nothing because homes in that area were pretty much worthless even though the craftsmanship and condition of the home were good at the time, and bought a singlewide in a largely elderly but not technically 55+ park in, you guessed it, Kentwood.

Grandma eventually ended up spending the last two years of her life in an apartment somewhere out by Grandville/Bryon Center if you're looking for clues to where middle class blacks will end up next.

As for GR's future, what's killing it right now is GRPS. My parents were both lifer teachers in the district, and are now disgusted at how a series of bad superintendents has pretty much destroyed a district that used to do well with the sutdent population it had.
Another similarity to my area. I have noticed that Grandville does seem like it is changing slowly but surely like you indicated. Check the demographics out over the years: Grandville High School, Grandville Michigan / MI School Profile, Ranking, and Reviews - SchoolDigger.com
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Old 04-07-2010, 02:09 PM
 
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Originally Posted by beachmouse View Post
Thr school system can help though. One of my neighbors used to be principal at Sibley Elementary when that area was hitting a low point. He'd have classrooms every year where there was 90% turnover because someone couldn't pay the rent or wanted to move acrosss town to live with their babydaddy or they were chasing a job out of town. If you've got a strong school system that provides social and curriculum consistency to those kids and serves as a refuge to the chaos that the adults around them put them through, it really does help them in the long haul.

And the sorts of middle class families that stabilize an area have certain expectations about schools. There were a good number of families where I gres up who would gladly send their kids to CA Frost/Covell/Shawmut elementaries, but wouldn't consider sending their kids to Union High school. If they couldn't get their kids on the City High track and didn't want the expense of sending them to West Catholic or Christian, they moved across the line to Kenowa Hills.

On a less melancholy note, I talked to Dad the other night. He's one of those guys who has worked assorted football and track and field events at Houseman Field for a couple decades at this point, and he reports that the remodeling there went extremely well- they managed to maintain the original charm of the venue while adding actual fully functioning restrooms for both genders for the first time in Houseman's history.

I went to the Notorious……South Middle School. After lunch time, I swear a third of the students just disappeared. Free lunch was a big incentive to go to school for a lot of poor kids. Teachers that REALLY care can and always do make a difference. Having descent textbooks and the like also helps, as well as, these days, computers and such. However, 80% of the battle is still in the households and community.

When I was growing up, the people who were said to have the “good jobs” worked at GM, Steel Case, Keeler Brass or other good paying factory jobs. There were no doctors, lawyers, engineers, successful business owners in our communities. Those are occupations and status derived from education. Achieving status in inner cities like GR, with poor and working class blacks, mainly came from factory work and illegal activity, neither of which required an education. Socialization manifest most profoundly through emulation. When you are raised in a community of factory workers, you are socialized to be a factory worker by condition of environment. However, manufacturing in America is dying out…..especially in former high wage union areas like Michigan. So now the biggest role models for success are often drug dealers in these communities…and that’s not an exaggeration.

I made it out by not being able to cope. I was not an alpha male and I had a hard time finding status and rank with the ladies. Women are the prize in the competition for status and rank among males. That is why we do what we do, whether you live on Lafayette SE or East Grand Rapids. We are all bound by our biological drives to compete for rank and status. That determines who gets the best mates. The thing is that even when you live in a poor environment, the same dynamics are at play. However, in SE GR, in order to get the “PHAT” women, you needed rank and status based upon the value system and opportunities in that environment, which is quite different from what one needed to compete for beautiful women in EGR. In the hood finding status and success traps you in the hood (and long term poverty….after short term gains dry up or you do time or have so many kids you cannot afford it). In EGR, finding status and success keeps you living in EGR (in affluence). Your environment socializes you to perpetuate that condition you are in. I made it out because I was not strong enough to survive and cope with that competition of the inner city. Had I been stronger, I would still be there. It was not about making a superior CHOICE to better my life, as many want to think. I just found it easier to compete for an education than to compete in the streets. It paid off for me.
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Old 04-07-2010, 04:16 PM
 
Location: Highland CA
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Originally Posted by Indentured Servant View Post
When you are raised in a community of factory workers, you are socialized to be a factory worker by condition of environment.
Maybe things have changed. When I grew up in the 50s and 60s, parents who worked in the factories pushed their children toward upper mobility.
This often came in the form of self-denigration, urging us to get an education so that we didn't "end up like them."

I grew up near downtown Flint (I'm white, BTW) and all the males in my family worked for GM or in support roles, such as my great uncle who was custodian for Local 659. My mother-in-law worked for AC, her husband for Dupont, and my father-in-law worked for Buick in the foundry.

I always considered us to be well-off, though not rich. We managed to take a couple of vacations a year, such as to the Great Smoky Mountains, Florida, and even Boston and New England.
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Old 04-07-2010, 05:28 PM
 
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I think that the being black was a lot different. All the upper echelon occupations in America had white faces, so such socialized whites, despite their immediate surroundings, to believe that the only limitations were self imposed, for the most part. For blacks, up until the last decade, and climaxing with a black president, that was far from the case. We are still experiencing black “First” as in the first black this or that and we have a lot of “first” to go. I mean, we could not find role models in American history that looked like US, unless the issue with fighting for civil rights. There were some, but slavery and Jim Crow ensured that such positive images were few and far between. The media primary depicted us as comedic figures, pimps, prostitutes, gang members and such. Sports were an area that the gates were opened enough to us to pour into faster than intellectual avenues, because we were seen as physical and not intellectual people, in inherent capacity. So those that is how the larger society socialized blacks and to blacks coming from the cotton fields of the Mississippi doing share cropping, factory work up north with good wages was high status for Negroes. Sure, our parents also stressed education the best that they could, but society demonstrated little need or desire for educated Negroes. Like I said, whites have to compete with the standards society set for whites, which was the top of all possible endeavors. Blacks lived mostly segregated and only had to compete for status with other blacks….and the bar was much, much lower because discrimination stunted opportunities. So again, when you can get beautiful women, find happiness and the like working in factories……you essentially have all your biological needs satisfied as much as the rich man….even without an education. Black people have been poor and oppressed for so long that most found a way to cope and be happy in that condition…..which helps to trap you in that state. It’s only when you cannot cope and are unhappy that you have the incentive and drive to alter your situation. The flip side is that if you did not find a way to cope or be happy, the frustration and hopelessness would kill you one way or the other….if you could not find a way out.
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Old 04-08-2010, 10:22 AM
 
12,505 posts, read 7,603,124 times
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Originally Posted by ckhthankgod View Post
Another similarity to my area. I have noticed that Grandville does seem like it is changing slowly but surely like you indicated. Check the demographics out over the years: Grandville High School, Grandville Michigan / MI School Profile, Ranking, and Reviews - SchoolDigger.com

Wow....that link was stunning. Just when things looked like they were improving, in regards to integration,....that link showed a dramatic exodus of whites from GR public schools. I had no clue that the public school had become majority minority...especially the high schools. Wow....maybe I need to rethink my observations. It appears that people do not want to integrate their children....


In regards to your question about a black middle class enclave in Grand Rapids.....there really is not one. The outer eastward and southward edges of the black community in the city are generally more affluent than the core. Those communities are more working class than middle class.

Last edited by Indentured Servant; 04-08-2010 at 10:36 AM..
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Old 04-08-2010, 04:05 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Indentured Servant View Post
Wow....that link was stunning. Just when things looked like they were improving, in regards to integration,....that link showed a dramatic exodus of whites from GR public schools. I had no clue that the public school had become majority minority...especially the high schools. Wow....maybe I need to rethink my observations. It appears that people do not want to integrate their children....


In regards to your question about a black middle class enclave in Grand Rapids.....there really is not one. The outer eastward and southward edges of the black community in the city are generally more affluent than the core. Those communities are more working class than middle class.
That website can open one's eyes to the real story about student demographics. You should look at schools in districts like Godfrey-Lee, Kelloggsville, Godwin Heights, Wyoming, Kentwood and even districts like Northview, Comstock Park and other suburban districts. It seems like the Wyoming and Kentwood schools are more integrated, but we shouldn't get diversity confused with integration. It does seem like Union is the most diverse and/or integrated of the GR public high schools.

Also, you have to think about what the demographics are for private schools and even colleges in the area. This is a good source to look at that: Search For Schools, Colleges and Libraries
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Old 04-08-2010, 04:23 PM
 
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Yes....however the term integrated is spurious. Kentwood and Wyoming schools are simply in transition from being majority white to majority minority and integration is simply a momentary phase in the process. Union High....MY OLD SCHOOL (Red Hawks) is balanced only because of the area that students are bused from. The SE side area that feeds this NW side schoo, via busing,l is becoming less black and the NW side of town that the whites come from is still majority white.
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Old 04-08-2010, 06:15 PM
 
60,475 posts, read 85,555,197 times
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Originally Posted by Indentured Servant View Post
Yes....however the term integrated is spurious. Kentwood and Wyoming schools are simply in transition from being majority white to majority minority and integration is simply a momentary phase in the process. Union High....MY OLD SCHOOL (Red Hawks) is balanced only because of the area that students are bused from. The SE side area that feeds this NW side schoo, via busing,l is becoming less black and the NW side of town that the whites come from is still majority white.
Interesting and good points(as usual), as I was thinking about that with the Wyoming SD's and Kentwood. Lee High in Wyoming is predominately Hispanic/Latino now and look at the progression: Lee High School, Wyoming Michigan / MI School Profile, Ranking, and Reviews - SchoolDigger.com It took 20 years to go from overwhelmingly mostly White to mostly Hispanic/Latino with a good amounts of Blacks. Here's information on Godwin Heights in Wyoming: Godwin Heights Senior High School, Wyoming Michigan / MI School Profile, Ranking, and Reviews - SchoolDigger.com It's mostly "minority" now. Even Kelloggsville is about 50/50 now: Kelloggsville High School, Grand Rapids Michigan / MI School Profile, Ranking, and Reviews - SchoolDigger.com

So, what you said seems to be coming to reality in some suburbs of GR.
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Old 05-10-2010, 09:36 AM
 
484 posts, read 1,106,292 times
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Wow! This is a great thread...not sure how I missed it awhile back.

As a lifelong resident of GR, although with nearly a decade spent between college and seeing the world with the US Army, I'm a sort of social history buff when it comes to GR.

Some of the key things that I feel have most shaped our city into it's present form are:

-Grandville Avenue and its significance to immigrant communities
-The closing of South High School
-The integration of the neighborhood bounded by Fuller/Leonard/Knapp/Ball
-There are many other things that I could go on about.
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Old 05-12-2010, 02:10 PM
 
Location: Media, PA
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Indentured Servant

"This also has bright me face to face with my own prejudices. It’s an ugly feeling to think a certain way. When I drove down Lafayette and saw all the white folks walking up and down the street, I felt like something was taken away from me. I felt that they had taken away my community, along with the Hispanics. I imagine it’s not much different than the way that white folks felt when blacks first started moving into these areas that were totally white. However, the corollary is that I, and other blacks, can go into areas that were once off limits to us and feel comfortable, if not accepted. Prejudice is an ugly feeling and I literally disliked myself for having those thoughts…..but those thoughts have not gone away. I have friends who are white, I live in a majority white community in the State I now reside, and still, there seems unfinished racial business that reveals itself every now and then.

We, as humans and cognitive beings, will often try to rationalize our ugly thoughts. I always tell myself that I would not feel this way if there was racial equality or parity in America. I feel justified because, I tell myself, it’s a reaction to what was done to black people. However, regardless of how true that may be, I don’t know that my feelings would turn as a result of reaching socioeconomic parity. The more I think about it, the more I believe that those feelings of resentment would not go away. I would simply find another means to rationalize them."


There is no justification for your way of thinking and hopefully these prejudices will die off with your generation.
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