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Why city’s West Greenville plan must address the area’s racial inequities

Black woman, Judith Williams and white man, Ken Kolb
From left: Judith Williams, Department of Anthropology, and Ken Kolb, chair, Department of Sociology.

In an opinion piece appearing in The Greenville News, two Furman University professors sound off on the City of Greenville’s proposed Micro-Area Plan, a.k.a. Village Action Plan, for the Village of West Greenville. Judith Williams, an anthropology professor, and Ken Kolb, a sociology professor and chair of the department, write that the plan is “colorblind,” and skirts an important block of history for the former mill village – 1960-2000. The authors say disinvestment in the area during that time led to “white flight.”

Now that The Village of West Greenville is undergoing gentrification, Williams and Kolb voice their concerns about what the boom means for some residents. “Longtime and low-income Black residents are quickly and quietly being displaced in The Village by an influx of mostly white, progressive, upper-middle class residents, eagerly buying up speculative real estate,” they write.

At the same time, they note some positives about the area’s resurgence. “Although the community remains relatively diverse, most of the wealth is still concentrated in the growing white community. The Village’s Micro-Area Plan states that ‘half of the current business establishments and artists active in The Village are minority and/or LGBTQ-owned,'” a “good starting point,” they say.

 

 

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