If you have ever thrown up your hands over gentrification, convinced that there is no way to avoid ousting long-time residents and Black businesses from increasingly expensive neighborhoods, take heart.
If you have ever thought redlining, while technically illegal, will invariably continue to permeate societies without penalty, take heart.
If you have felt defeated by the uphill battle of growing Black business density, take heart.
Because in the newest episode of our acclaimed podcast, How to Really Run a City, our panel of experts shares wisdom and actionable tips for combating these and other challenges American cities face.
This most recent episode is the second part of a live recording from the African American Museum in Philadelphia, as part of the kickoff event to the African-American Chamber of Commerce of PA, NJ, and DE’s National Convening of Black Mayors. (Listen to part one here.) Our hosts — former Philly mayor Michael Nutter, former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, and Citizen co-founder Larry Platt — welcomed author and finance expert Bruce Katz, along with Newark, NJ, mayor Ras Baraka to this special episode. In it, Mayor Baraka shares the nuances of Newark’s innovative housing policy that paves the way for Black home ownership, while Katz walks us through how to unlock investment in cities long-starved for capital.
The moment is now
These, of course, are increasingly critical issues at a time when, for example, a Lending Tree study found that among Black adults who applied for credit in 2021, 46 percent were denied or approved for less than they requested — compared to 22 percent of White adults. In Baraka’s New Jersey, the U.S. Attorney’s office recently prosecuted Lakeland Bank for what amounted to redlining. “Denying people credit, denying people mortgages, denying people capital — all of those things still exist and have existed for decades, and our communities look the way they look because of redlining,” Baraka said. And while bad actors in the private sector receive fines and slaps on the wrist, Baraka pointed out that the private sector just picked up where the public sector — agencies like HUD — left off.
Mayor Reed implored those in attendance — mayors and other city leaders from around the country — to take heart, to think in a way that’s clear-eyed and positive. “I want to be real clear,” he intoned. “There has not been a better time for us to really go for it than we’re in right now. Culturally, there’s something going on in the water with our young people. Right now, you can be a Black entrepreneur and there is a real desire and a thirst for Black people to do business with Black people.”
He went on: “Let’s not miss this moment or be down or depressed. I think we need to adopt what the best of our ilk did, which is to be bold and then match it with the intellectual capital that’s now available to us.”
He acknowledged, of course, that it’s not always easy to be bold when you’re a mayor. “When you make real change, you pay a price for that real change. But I’ll tell you, as somebody that’s paid a price? I’d do it every time again!”
For more inspiration and actionable tips — plus Mayor Nutter’s tip on the most important public document any leader should read — be sure to tune into the episode, then subscribe to be the first to know when the next installment drops, too.