- Professor, Sociology
- Urban Sociology
Black Middle-Class Suburbs and the Battle Between Civil Rights and Neoliberalism
A unique insight into desegregation in the suburbs and how racial inequality persists
Half of Black Americans who live in the one hundred largest metropolitan areas are now living in suburbs, not cities. In Liberty Road, Gregory Smithsimon shows us how this happened, and why it matters, unearthing the hidden role that suburbs played in establishing the Black middle-class.
Focusing on Liberty Road, a Black middle-class suburb of Baltimore, Smithsimon tells the remarkable story of how residents broke the color barrier, against all odds, in the face of racial discrimination, tensions with suburban whites and urban Blacks, and economic crises like the mortgage meltdown of 2008. Drawing on interviews, census data, and archival research he shows us the unique strategies that suburban Black residents in Liberty Road employed, creating a blueprint for other Black middle-class suburbs.
Smithsimon re-orients our perspective on race relations in American life to consider the lived experiences and lessons of those who broke the color barrier in unexpected places. Liberty Road shows us that if we want to understand Black America in the twenty-first century, we must look not just to our cities, but to our suburbs as well.
Published April 2022
Melville House, 2018
When we try to understand our world, we ask “why?” a specific event occured. But this profoundly human question often leads us astray. In Cause, sociologist Gregory Smithsimon brings us a much sharper understanding of cause and effect, and shows how we can use it to approach some of our most daunting collective problems.
Smithsimon begins by explaining the misguided cause and effect explanations that have given us tragically little insight on issues such as racial discrimination, climate change, and the cycle of poverty. He then shows unseen causes behind these issues, and shows how we are hard-wired to overlook them. Armed with these insights, Smithsimon explains how we can avoid these mistakes, and begin to make effective change.
Combining philosophy, the science of perception, and deeply researched social factors, Cause offers us a new way to ask “why?” and a hope that we may improve our society and ourselves.
Gregory Smithsimon is a Associate Professor of Sociology at The Graduate Center.
Published March 2018