Global Issues Conference: World, local issues converge
March 13, 2016
The class-based gentrification of Bay Area communities is akin to legalized segregation, said Tony Roshan Samara the annual LEAD Global Issues Conference Thursday, March 3 at De Anza College.
Samara raised awareness for the Silicon Valley renter’s rights movement in his speech “Innovations in Segregation: Displacement and Unequal Development in Silicon Valley.”
“If you think about Apartheid,” Samara said, “this is their model of urban planning: Bring the whites to the center, put the black workers out in the townships.”
The overdevelopment, or gentrification, of one community is intrinsically linked to the underdevelopment and poor living conditions of another community, Samara said. As the housing crisis worsens, some are actively working to keep people segregated in the Bay Area.
“People had to work really hard to keep people of color out of white neighborhoods [in the ‘50s and ‘60s]. It didn’t just happen,” Samara said. “I would argue that if you look at what’s happening now, it takes just as much work.”
Developers now use the same racist coded language as realtors who worked to keep blacks out of white communities, he said. Language about drug dealers and residents who bring down property value and increase the crime rate are actually references to blacks.
“I think the housing crisis is a big issue,” said Sahil Saini, 21, computer science major. “My landlord is trying to get a new tenant right now to pay more than us without making any improvements.”
Saini said that it didn’t feel fair that his landlord was allowed to raise the rent so suddenly and without reason, and said that the housing crisis will worsen.
“This issue will just get worse because people keep wanting more and more money from renters,” he said. “People are going to start moving out of Silicon Valley because of the high prices. It’s bad for our society.”
Migration has a much broader meaning than what people assume, and it is not a world crisis, but rather a symptom of a much greater global issue, said Catherine Ramirez at the annual LEAD Global Issues conference Thursday, March 3.
“My goals to process, to think about human mobility and marginalization in a new and more nuanced way,” said Ramirez, who is the head of the Department of Latin American and Latino Studies at UC Santa Cruz.
The audience gathered in a conference room in the Hinson Campus Center where she delivered her informative speech about migration, citizenship and assimilation. She said that she wants to educate others about migration in order to broaden students’ perspective of the concept.
In a study done by the International Migration Institute at Oxford University, only 2-3 percent of the world population has moved in the past five decades, she said. This indicates that 97 percent have stayed in their country of origin.
In short, migration has not increased, the origin and type of migrants has simply changed.
She said migration is not just an international occurrence. It is simply the movement from one place to another, whether local or international. People move from less wealth and opportunity, to more wealth and opportunity.
“My aim is to draw attention to the uneven distribution of wealth, a primary driver of human mobility at both the global and local levels,” she said. “Once we take this step, we see the world is in crisis, not so much because of immigration but because of stark inequalities and violence.”
Ramirez showed a visual of a model created by social scientists, showing the three overlapping spheres of society that represent assimilation: state, civil society and market. The overlapping of the spheres is what Ramirez attributes to the hypocrisy and contradiction of assimilation.
Integration at one level of society is contingent on exclusion by another, she said. As an example, she mentioned the market’s reliance on undocumented workers for restaurant and agricultural labor.
Ramirez said that it is a paradox that a group of people can be included and excluded from society simultaneously. Although undocumented immigrants are integrated into civil society through labor in the market level, they are not legally accepted as citizens by the state.
The solution she proposed is a path to legalization for those who lack the documentation to be classified as citizens but are, in essence, Americans.
She said, “We need to expand our notion of assimilation by seeing it in broader terms.”