Sunday, April 10, 2022

the last book I ever read (Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy's Guide to the Constitution, excerpt seven)

from Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy's Guide to the Constitution by Elie Mystal:

The first time I heard about eminent domain was in college, where I read Robert Caro’s seminal book The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York. Robert Moses is responsible for so much of how modern cities look and feel, and not just in New York because his methods were imported and copied throughout the country. Moses was a destroyer of Black and brown communities. And eminent domain is what allowed that asshole to be racist at an industrial scale.

If I may summarize one of the greatest modern biographies ever written in two sentences: Robert Moses was a deeply racist man who built highways, bridges, parks, beaches, and even housing projects by bulldozing the hopes, dreams, and often literal homes of people in his way. His main tactic for acquiring land for his projects was identifying vulnerable minority or immigrant communities, declaring their homes and land “blighted,” and then using the government’s power of eminent domain to evict people from their homes over their objection and for a fraction of what their communities were actually worth.

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