Ursidae: The Undergraduate Research Journal at the University of Northern Colorado

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Andrew Creekmore


This paper utilizes Smith's (1979) Rent Gap Theory, Feagin's (2006) Theory of Systemic Racism, and Smith’s (2010) Generative Planning Theory to argue that non-white neighborhoods in Denver, Colorado are more likely to suffer from capital depreciation and thus, are more vulnerable to urban gentrification and displacement. While critically analyzing racially motivated zoning policies, discriminatory mortgage lending practices, and income inequality, I investigated the history of urban gentrification in Denver, Colorado neighborhoods, Auraria and Highland, starting in the 1940s. I was able to find patterns and parallels that apply to the cases of urban gentrification occurring in 2016 in the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods of Denver. I found that non-white neighborhoods, like those of Auraria, Highland, Globeville, and Elyria-Swansea, are far more likely to suffer from capital depreciation given the historic precedent of discriminatory zoning policies and neglect from city planning departments (Meltzer 2006a; Meltzer 2016b; Tracey 2016). Racism, as it exists in our institutions and ideologies, has led to the widely accepted belief that non-white neighborhoods and non-white people are not as highly valued as their white counterparts. Systemic depreciation, therefore, refers to the systemic oppression and marginalization of non-white populations in the United States on a cultural, societal, and political level. These ideologies have dictated public policy decision making in such a way that continues to oppress non-white populations in instances including, but not limited to, urban gentrification.

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