The Western Journal of Black Studies

Volume 34, Issue 3


The Gentrifying Effects of Brownfields Redevelopment
Jonathan D. Essoka—U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

This article was written in Dr. Essoka's personal capacity, and has not been subject to review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of EPA or the United States.  

The attendant inequities of the poor, people of color, brownfields distribution, and redevelopment has not received a meaningful empirical or sociological analysis. This research assesses whether the poor and people of color receive the benefits of brownfields revitalization projects or become gentrified. The study reviews the intersection of urban settlement, segregation, racism, brownfields, environmental justice, urban planning and gentrification literature. It first locates U.S. Environmental Protection Agency brownfields pilot sites residing in environmental justice communities. Second, a pre-post demographic study evaluates gentrification variables at the selected locations. Finally, statistical analyses determine whether environmental justice populations experience displacement. Results find that widespread displacement occurs in conjunction with brownfields revitalization projects. Discussion offers environmental justice methodologies able to produce more equitable outcomes and promote sustainability.
pp. 299-315


The "Two Souls" of Barack Obama
Stanley O. Gaines, Jr. —Brunel University

In the present paper, the author argues that President Barack Obama’s (1995/2008, 2006/2008) life story repeatedly has affirmed the “two souls” (i.e., the African/interdependent and American/independent selves) that W. E. B. Du Bois described in The Souls of Black Folk (1903). Despite critiques to the contrary (e.g., Asukile, 2008; Ball, 2008; Miah, 2009; A. Reed, 2009), the author concludes that Obama’s African/interdependent self is as well-developed as is Obama’s American/independent self. Overall, Obama’s personal reconciliation of the “two souls” is consistent with Du Bois’s (1903) belief that each African American must resolve the potential conflict between the African/interdependent and American/independent selves for himself or herself.
pp. 316-324


Non-Married Women and Black Ethnicity:
An Analysis of the Likelihood of Homeownership

Lori Latrice Martin—City University of New York

The number of non-married women is on the rise in America and these women are making their presence known, especially where homeownership is concerned. Non-married women are among the fastest growing segment of first time homebuyers. Despite these recent trends, few studies have examined the determinants of homeownership for this group. For the few studies that have not ignored this population, most examine differences between non-married Black and White females, but most do not address within group differences. The present study uses data from the 2000 decennial census to determine if ethnicity matters for non-married Black women. The results show that ethnicity explains some, but not all, of the variations of homeownership for non-married Black women.
pp. 325-336


Panic at the Church:
The Use of Frames, Social Problems, and Moral Panics in the
Formation of an AIDS Social Movement Organization

Angelique Harris—California State University, Fullerton

This article examines how frames and moral panics are used to attract attention to public health issues. This research posits that once a health social movement organization frames their contested issue as a social problem, a moral panic is created to initiate a reaction on the part of the movement’s target audience. A case study of the development of The Balm in Gilead, an AIDS awareness program that targets the Black Church, is used to illustrate how frames and moral panics are employed. Data consists of interviews with Black Church leaders, AIDS activists, and employees at The Balm in Gilead (BG). Findings suggest that creating a moral panic among Black Church leaders was vital to the movement’s success.
pp. 337-346


Play(writing) and En(acting) Consciousness:
Theater as Rhetoric in Harriet Wilson's Our Nig

Neal A. Lester—Arizona State University

As there has been much critical and scholarly attention to genre fluidity in recent literary discussions over the last few years, I offer here an exploration of rhetorical genre blurring in what is believed to be the first African American novel Our Nig, published in 1859 by Harriet E. Wilson. Primarily, critical attention on this important text has involved either the novel’s autobiographical and feminist dimensions or the novel’s identity as a hybrid between the Black male-dominated slave narrative and White female-dominated sentimental fiction. While the novel has elements of both of these popular forms, I argue that the narrative is more complicated by Wilson’s strategic use of visual aesthetics—lives in motion with characters speaking and moving through a live space as others consciously observe what they do, say, or do not do—the novel is actually a rhetorically staged performance of alleged liberal abolitionists’ ineffectuality and inactivity. The social ills under attack in the novel make it more intellectually complicated and more socially and politically dangerous for its then-anonymous author than for writers straightforwardly critiquing social evils in slave narratives and sentimental fiction. In fact, rather than gently trying to gently coax through rational argument or through heightened emotionalism, Wilson boldly confronts through this trope of the stage the very people who believe themselves committed to the task of emancipating their darker brethren. Examined through the lens of dramatic performance, Wilson’s text interrogates various forms of enslavement along gender, race, and economic lines. As well, its focus on Christian hypocrisy is fundamentally connected to the spirituality that extends beyond the racist and sexist dimensions of western Christianity as dramatized in Wilson’s allegorical connections. Using allegory and a framework that resembles a morality play, Wilson turns on its head a western patriarchal and often static form to critique racist and sexist western ideologies that restrict spiritual self-actualization for African Americans, for women, and for African American women.
pp. 347-357


Social Health and Environmental Quality of LIfe:
Their Relationship to Positive Physical Health and Subjective
Well-Being in a Population of Urban African Americans
Darrick Tovar-Murray—DePaul University

The present study examined whether social health and environmental quality of life mediates the relationship between subjective well-being (positive affect and life satisfaction) and physical health among a population of urban African Americans. There was a total of 171 African Americans who participated in the study. Participants were administered a survey questionnaire packet that contained measures of life satisfaction, positive affect, physical health, social health, environmental quality of life and demographic information. Findings revealed that the documented associations among positive affect, life satisfaction and physical health were explained, in part, by social health and environmental quality of life. These findings suggested the importance of social health and environmental quality of life in the physical health and subjective well-being of African Americans. Implications for professionals and future research in the field of Black psychology and subjective well-being are discussed.
pp. 358-366


Biological Determinism and LGBT Tolerance:
A Quantitative Exploration of Biopolitical Beliefs
Kathleen Dunn—CUNY Graduate Center

Drawing on original public opinion survey data collected in an urban setting during the spring of 2009, this article examines the factors that influence respondents’ tolerance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) individuals. Specifically, OLS regression models are employed to assess if, controlling for standard demographic categories, respondents’ views on the fixity of sexual orientation has any bearing on tolerance for LGBT individuals. The findings indicate a significant relationship between the belief that sexual orientation is biologically determined and tolerance of LGBT individuals. The number of LGBT-identified people known to the respondent, sexual orientation, and age also yielded significant effects, as did political and religious beliefs. Gender, race, income, household size, employment status, and education were not found to have any significant impact. The strength of the relationship between biological determinism and tolerance of LGBT individuals indicates a biopolitical understanding of sexual orientation, wherein the discursive authority of science is linked to making claims on the state. These findings add to the empirical literature on the correlation between LGBT-tolerant attitudes and the belief that sexual orientation is biologically determined, while raising questions about the theoretical issues at stake in conceptions of tolerance that are based in biological determinism.
pp. 367-379


Book Reviews

Art in Crisis: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Struggle for
African American Identity and Memory
Author: Amy Helene Kirschke
Reviewer: Robert W. Williams, Bennett College
pp. 380-381


Baldwin's Harlem A Biography of James Baldwin
Author: Herb Boyd
Reviewer: William S. Cook, Mercy College
pp. 382-386


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