Black Gentrification in Atlanta Neighborhoods

Barbara, Combs. “The Ties That Bind: The Role of Place in Racial Identity Formation, Social Cohesion, Accord, and Discord in Two Historic, Black Gentrifying Atlanta Neighborhoods.” SOCIOLOGY DISSERTATIONS(2010): 1–407. Print.

Map of gentrified neighborhoods in Atlanta. Source:

In her dissertation Barbara Combs of Georgia State University, discusses the phenomenon of “black gentrification” in  Atlanta neighborhoods. She proposes that “black gentrification” is similar to mainstream gentrification, in exception that  “black gentrifying neighborhoods both the poor and working class residents who resided in the neighborhood prior to its gentrification and the new residents of greater economic means are black” (2). In this case it distinguishes from mainstream gentrification  because “black gentrifiers in black gentrifying neighborhoods often feel a responsibility or obligation to their lower income black neighbors” (2). Combs argues that “attachment to the neighborhood space …(place affinity ) has the potential to obviate social tensions in gentrifying black communities and bind residents to each other and the social space they all occupy” (3). She explores ways to ” strengthen social and economic cohesion in these gentrifying black communities” (3).

Metro Atlanta neighborhoods faced economic decline due to the U.S. recession. The American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 made funds available to refurbish homes that were vacated or foreclosed. However,  an “Atlanta Journal Constitution article appearing January 25, 2010, Federal officials say Atlanta is moving too slowly spending $12.3 million it got last March to buy vacant homes in neighborhoods ravaged by foreclosures (Stirgus 2010)” (20). Combs the gentrification taking place in the two Atlanta neighborhoods under study…against the findings of Larry Keating and the Gentrification Task Force Committee on Gentrification.” (23). Although whites are moving into gentrifying communities the racial composition remains predominately black. Combs suggests ” African Americans have played a key role in the development and maintenance of black communities” (25). Post-segregation African Americans were afforded new housing options due to Civil legislation. Many remained in the inner city due to ” rising gasoline prices and commute times, proximity to amenities, quality of life” (25).

Sociologists have begun to research the impact of place. race, and class have on black gentrification. Combs states “overarching goal of this dissertation is to determine the potential for place attachment” (3), meaning what compels lower income residents to stay within black communities that have social tension. This essay addresses how the demographics in Atlanta neighborhoods shapes identity of a space, Patricia Hill Collins describes”everyone has a race/gender/class specific identity,” and everyone is simultaneously “being oppressed and oppressor” (Collins, 1993: 28)” (118). Combs defines spaces as a physical construct that”includes things like buildings, streets, and natural structures as well as aspects of physical proximity or location in relation to other fixed, bounded geographical areas or things” (183). While place is socially constructed  “comprised of the social, historical, cultural, educational, economic, business, religious, and other institutions in the area” (183). She is interested in how these factors foster “place attachment”.

Class Notes 3/10/16

Things you can observe in digital environment:

  1. Arrangements
  2. Voices
  3. Words and Visuals interact/blend
  4. Perspective
  5. Space
  6. Speed/Time
  7. Editing
  8. Advertisement
  9. Accent
  10. Cadence
  11. Music/Audio
  12. Voice-over

Activity: make a list of terms from the text that might be useful in observing and analyzing digital enviornments


Gender-Neutral Bathrooms



In Emily Bazelon’s article “Making Bathrooms More ‘Accommodating’ ” she discusses the importance of accommodating  aspects of our society, such as public restrooms, to include marginalized groups.As the privileged majority, we do not consider how a bathroom is designed to exclude minority and disabled groups. Restrooms are available to the public as a basic human right, however our society constricts and places labels. The invasion of the opposite sex in a state of vulnerability can lead to “discomfort, or even real trouble”. In particular, transgender people are challenging social norms, “from signs to design to who gets to enter where”.

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Natural Open Spaces Enhance Learning


In their article “Recognizing Campus Landscapes as Learning Spaces” Kathleen G. Scholl and Gowri Betrabet Gulwadi, “propose that the natural landscape of a university campus is an attentional learning resource for its student” (53). The risk of “attentional fatigue” is increased due to technology and campuses that lack “connected networks of indoor and open spaces” (53).  They suggest that natural open spaces should be examined for their “potential in replenishing cognitive functioning for attentional fatigued students” (53). Scholl and Gulwadi address two concepts “indirect attention and restoration” and a ” holistic landscape” (53).

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Activity #3 Key Words/Terms

  1. “Old Fourth Ward”
  2. “Gentrification of Atlanta”
  3. “Revitalization”
  4. “Beltline”
  5. “racial inequality”
  6. “white flight”
  7. “racial gerrymandering”
  8. “urban renewal”
  9. “04w”
  10. “old fourth ward” “history”
  11. “ponce city market” “discrimination”
  12. “”ponce city market” “history”
  13. “old fourth ward” “race”
  14. “old fourth ward” “segregation”
  15. “homeless”
  16. “Space”
  17. “Black gentrification”
  18. “Old Fourth Ward” “arrest”
  19. “Ponce City Market” “arrest”
  20. “Old Fourth Ward” “Murals”
  21. “Ponce City Market” “demographics”