White Flight is the term for the racially based migration in the 1950s and onwards of white Americans from the central areas of cities to the outer suburbs throughout America.
In “White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism,” Kevin Kruse looks at a city at the heart of the phenomenon – Atlanta – and uses it to argue that white flight was more than just white Americans moving away from black Americans.
With Atlanta as his microcosm, Kruse argues that the process, mechanics, language and politics of white flight reshaped the modern conservative movement.
Kruse explores the tactics of “massive resistance,” the language of “freedom of association,” blockbusting, the economics of racism, the creation of public & private spheres – and has examples and anecdotes straight from Atlanta’s experience to make the concepts real.
What’s interesting to me though as a citizen of the City of Atlanta is the incredible (as in I literally couldn’t believe it) city history he writes about.
When I moved to Atlanta in 2013, I knew more than the average transplant.
I had lived for 15 years 60 miles down the road in Athens. I had grown up listening to local radio out of Atlanta. I had seen Atlanta local news. I knew the general demography of the city (Southwest Atlanta is poor and black; North Atlanta is rich and white). I had even taken an urban geography course in college that covered gentrification and the mortgage crisis in Atlanta.
And yet, I had no real idea of the politics or the history behind it all.