This article can be found in the current issue of the Journal of Urban Affairs regarding Activist Scholarship.
Waiting for Wakanda: Activists challenge Black exclusion from the construction industry, by Kitty Kelly Epstein
The national economic position of Black Americans has for decades included unemployment rates that are double those of Whites and a racial wealth gap of 13 to 1. Barriers to employment in the construction industry are among the many contributing factors. In 2010, I participated in the creation of an alliance to challenge the exclusion of African American organizations from discussions on the Oakland Army Base redevelopment project. This paper introduces the broad range of urban activist scholarship and then describes this particular activist campaign and its success in raising the percentage of hours worked by African Americans in construction jobs on this project. It uses a critical race theory framework to explore the necessity of a race-conscious approach to campaigns on such issues as local hire. It also describes the methodology of a long-term resident participating in the daily life of a city as a scholar-activist analyzing the urban issues that emerge. The paper concludes with recommendations to activists, policymakers, and scholars.