In Chapters 7, 8, 9, and 10, Davis explores more of Los Angeles’s “Ecology of Fear.” He starts with Pomona, CA, once a thriving suburb, that has turned into a desolate wasteland. Pomona’s “suburban malaise” started when its two main industries left. Without jobs, the area descended into chaos. This phenomenon is not unique to Pomona however. Davis warns that across the nation, there are hundreds of similar suburbs also spiraling from suburban paradise to crabgrass slum.
As suburbs decline, so called “edge cities” increase. Proliferated by federal tax incentives, these cities pull funding out of less economically prosperous neighborhoods, mainly Latino and nonwhite areas.
Racial tensions in these areas are only exacerbated by suburban decline. Davis notes the wave of white nationalist violence in the 90s, and he discusses California’s ballooning prison population. Efforts to be tough on crime with three strike laws caused California to be #3 on the list of places with most incarcerated individuals, behind only China and the United States.
Problems that developed over several decades will take decades to fix, but what realistic solutions can California enact? No politician wants to be seen as weak, so many adopt a “tough on crime” policy. Can you name any politician, without looking it up, who has campaigned on reforming the prison system? Was that politician elected?
To what extent can we blame “white flight” for problems in California’s suburbs? Do white people have a special duty to live in specific areas in order to prevent economic collapse?