Author tells gentrification story with a twist Nov. 5 at Vanderbilt University; Black on the Block explores role of black gentry in transforming poorer black neighborhoods

In gentrifying neighborhoods there are typically clashes between racial and ethnic groups, the “haves” and “have-nots,” homeowners and apartment dwellers and newcomers and longtime residents. However, a new book by Northwestern University professor Mary Pattillo explores the story with a twist.

She will discuss her book Black on the Block: The Politics of Race and Class in the City, at 4 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5, at Vanderbilt University. Her talk will be held in Room 115 of Wilson Hall.

Pattillo, a professor of sociology and African American studies, explores how class conflicts within the black community are dramatically changing the shape and terms of racial solidarity through the lens of revitalization efforts in a neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. She looks at the work more affluent members of the black community are doing to lift historically impoverished and dilapidated neighborhoods out of abject poverty – and the tensions that arise between poorer and middle class blacks when they do so. Another facet is the conflicted but crucial role middle-class blacks play in transforming the area as they negotiate between established centers of white economic and political power and the needs of their less fortunate black neighbors.

Ultimately, Black on the Block argues that while fissures have come to define the black community, the reality is that many African Americans choose participation over abdication and involvement over withdrawal – even when disagreements become bitter and acrimonious.

Pattillo has published numerous scholarly articles, and in addition to Black on the Block, is the author of Black Picket Fences: Privilege and Peril among the Black Middle Class, a winner of the Oliver Cromwell Cox Best Book Award from the American Sociological Association.

Vanderbilt’s Department of Sociology and Center for Nashville Studies is sponsoring Pattillo’s talk.

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Media Contact: Princine Lewis, 615-322-2706

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