We have a Right to The City

      Right 2 the City recognizes that city-building is a predatory development process in Buffalo and the United States that marginalizes, under-develops, and displaces residents of color living in low-wealth communities and white working-class neighborhoods.  

     The problem is that low-wealth white and people of color workers often end up building their communities on land that is owned by somebody else. In this setting, predators turn these neighborhoods into place-holding communities, where profiteers feed off of them by charging high-rent with low or no maintenance until the market allows for “better” and more profitable land-uses.

     We have seen this movie before. Urban renewal that was called “Negro Removal”; inter-city highways built on top of low-income neighborhoods; university campus expansion; sports stadium construction; and in this moment, gentrification and anchor institution development. All these city-building activities lead to the eradication of neighborhoods and the displacement of residents, and especially to the savage, purposeful underdevelopment of communities of color. 

     Public-Private Partnership (P3) believes and acts as if the city belongs to them. Thus, they claim the right to commodify and turn urban spaces into a market where land is bought and sold to the highest bidder. 

     Meanwhile, the people: Blacks, Latinx, immigrants, workers, students, and the precariat (middle-class folks living in a world of uncertainty, unpredictability and credit card debt) are relegated to the side of the road, watching the P3 and elite classes create and implement their vision of the city. 

     Right 2 the City is their battle cry.  The city belongs to the toiling masses, to the people of color, the working classes, and the precariat; all those locked out of the centers of power.  We have a Right 2 the City.  We have the Right 2 build a city that places human rights and social needs over profit-making and predation.  

     Right 2 the City forwards the idea that neoliberal city-building gives rise to the oppositional forces and the angry masses who will demand their Right 2 the City.  It will identify and expose those predatory city-building activities and other forms of oppression and exploitation unfolding in urban communities. 

     Right 2 the City also embraces prefigurativism. Prefiguratism looks into the future and imagines an advanced socialist society with just institutions that we can then re-create right her, right now in our capitalist culture. Prefiguratsim strives to reflect projects, programs, and activities that reflect a just society, anchored by racial and social justice. 

     We have a Right 2 to City because We Are The City

To build a Just Society, we must be able to imagine a very different, but possible, world.  To create that world, we must be prepared to cast away our illusions and exercise our right to the city.  And we must dedicate ourselves to building a bold new world based on participatory democracy, social-racial justice, and anchored by prefigurative planning.

Henry Louis Taylor