Democrats have largely led big and midsize cities for much of the past half-century. Yet the gaps in socioeconomic outcomes between white people and people of color are by several measures at their worst in the richest, bluest cities of the United States.
How could this be? Because high-profile cultural conservatives ask this question so disingenuously, white liberals have generally brushed aside this reality rather than grappled with its urgency. There’s now a danger that this sidestepping will continue, even after a national evaluation of racism since the brutal police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
As the mayor of Minneapolis from 2014 to 2018, as a Minneapolis City Council member from 2006 until 2014 and as a white Democrat, I can say this: White liberals, despite believing we are saying and doing the right things, have resisted the systemic changes our cities have needed for decades. We have mostly settled for illusions of change, like testing pilot programs and funding volunteer opportunities.
These efforts make us feel better about racism, but fundamentally change little for the communities of color whose disadvantages often come from the hoarding of advantage by mostly white neighborhoods.