Grading Obama's Urban Policy Legacy

By Tanvi Misra

Urban Policy in the Time of Obama (James DeFilippis, editor)So, did President Obama meet the high expectations he was beset with when he took office? What grade would you give him for his urban policy?  

I'm loath to reduce his work to just a grade. But if I had to, I would probably say a B-. There were a lot of interesting ideas, but there was very little follow-through. Most of what we got were a set of fairly small pilot-y kinds of projects: lots of planning grants, but very little implementation money.

You also really see it in the response to Baltimore. After what had happened in Ferguson, after everything that's been going on with Black Lives Matter, the response from the Feds was a collective shrug.

I recognize the constraints he was working with. The Republican Party clearly understands its constituency is not urban and couldn't care less about black and brown constituents in cities. Even so, where was the expenditure of political capital to force the issue from the administration? To push for a whole set of policies that would make things more equitable now? To build the organizational infrastructure for a more progressive, urban regime going forward? We didn't see it.

Read the full interview.

University of Minnesota Press Podcast

More than two dozen essays of Indigenous resistance to the privatization and allotment of Indigenous lands

Allotment Stories: Daniel Heath Justice and Jean M. O'Brien.

A fascinating and unprecedented ethnography of animal sanctuaries in the United States

Saving AnimalsElan Abrell and Kathryn (Katie) Gillespie on sanctuary, care, ethics.

How popular debates about the so-called digital generation mediate anxieties about labor and life in twenty-first-century America

Making creative laborers for a precarious economy: Josef Nguyen, Carly Kocurek, and Patrick LeMieux.



Browse our Fall/Winter 2022-23 catalog for exciting forthcoming books!

Viewing options:

Web collection

PDF (with accessibility features)