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“Black on the Block” by Mary E. Pattillo Essay (Book Review)

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Updated: Jun 10th, 2022

The author has made remarkable researches on urban growth and development which he considers vital for general growth. It is basically in the urban centers where major developmental decisions are made and implemented. Her viewpoint of urban revitalization is based on the number of new buildings that are being constructed together with other infrastructure. She also looks at it n a wider perspective of the relationship between the black and the white and how the different classes of groups are growing (Pattillo, 58). He considers urban development in a scenario whereby the standards of life for all people increase alike. Pattillo researched the neighborhood which is basically some of the governmental settlements. These were the areas that were occupied by settlers before they can acquire places that they can own. In carrying out the research, Pattillo based her research on the neighborhoods to find out the changes that were happening in the country.

The neighborhoods signify the kind of life that the people have been living in and the changes that are taking place. It is generally a true reflection of what society is composed of. There is basically nobody who can claim the ownership of a neighborhood. It was the kind of life that people lived in these places that were the sole determinant of the developments that were taking place. Her research was also focusing on African Americans whose residence was mainly in the neighborhood. It would have been difficult for him to conclude his research without focusing on the neighborhoods.

The aspect and section in this book on urban revitalization that inspired me the most

The most inspiring section in the book about revitalization is the one that signifies how united the blacks were. Despite the kind of discrimination and other fears that they were exposed to on a daily basis, they did not forget that they were of the same descent. In all that they had to lose, they ensured that they still loved and cherished one another. The unity that was experienced among them was the main one that caused a threat to the whites. There was a lot of optimism among them despite the fact that they were undermined and generally looked down on (Pattillo, 65). The few that managed to climb the ladder of life did not forget the others; they would always encourage and empower them to know that no matter how long it may take, they will finally get there. The blacks were basically ferried into the land to serve as slaves, however as days went by and the tradition was abandoned, they had a choice of remaining in the land or tracing their routes and going back. There was nothing much that was credited upon them and despite freedom from slavery, the attitudes that the whites had towards them remained. With all these challenges around them, they purposed to fight and demand their rights. They knew it was not going to be an easy battle but all in all, their unity made them achieve a lot in terms of development.


The author has brought out the idea of gratification to not only signify the developments that were happening in the city but also the tactic that was used by the white settlers to get rid of the blacks. As people grew to higher economic status, it was reflected in the housing facilities that they acquired. They realized the need and importance of them having property and establishing their own homes. The economic growth of the region was mainly determined by the demand for such facilities. It was basically realized that some places that were surrounded by social amenities became the most demanded. As the areas were taken up by private developers, they established classy houses and hence getting rid of the poor. It was a strategy that clearly distinguished the social class of different people.

Gentrification was not only viewed as a negative way through which the low-income earners were distinguished from the high-income ones, but it also posed a challenge to the masses. This would see most people working hard to ensure that they were not ranked among the low-income earners. The strategy revealed the difference that was there among the different categories of people and made them stir up one another. In fact, the blacks, with the need to minimize the discrimination that was shown against them now realized the need to also raise their living standards. As this happened, it reflected on the growth of the city and the country as a whole. It was discovered that it is not about the titles that one held but generally what they contributed to the economy (Pattillo, 110). Gentrification was hence a strategy that prompted individuals into productivity. The research has been done and generally showed us how the state improved immeasurably. A comparison has been made between the blacks and the whites, the lower, middle, and upper-class groups, and how the subsequent changes in the neighborhood affected their growth.

Works cited

Pattillo, Mary. Black on the block: the politics of race and class in the city. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.

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