Why is urbanism so white?

City Notes

The answer has to start, of course, with an acknowledgment that there are multiple things one might call “urbanism,” and that not all of them are notably white. Within recent memory here in Chicago, for example, majority-Latino and majority-black organizations have led marches supporting better bus service and El extensions, and housing activists tend to be a reasonably diverse bunch.

That said, the people who tend to use the term “urbanist” to describe themselves – and the ones whose ideas and political programs are represented in national media outlets and departments of transportation across the country – tend, overwhelmingly, to be white. I suspect anyone who spends much time following “urbanist” news knows this to be true; but, if we need more concrete proof, Planetizen’s list of the “Top 100 Urban Thinkers,” selected by the votes of its readers, contains approximately three people of Hispanic origin and not a single…

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