Houston, the fourth-largest city in America, has a self-esteem problem. Our local boosters are continuously looking for new branding approaches, commissioning expensive ads and websites extolling our municipal virtues. There was “Houston, It’s worth it;” “Houston is hip/tasty/inspired,” and the latest “Houston, the city without limits.” The city’s younger residents are partial to the more profane “Fuck You, Houston’s Awesome,” in response to criticisms of the city. There are many reasons for this insecurity. For Houstonians, who know of our parks, our museums, our bars, our restaurants, our people, it can feel like the rest of the country has settled on an idea of the city that’s still stuck on fading memories of . There is also the nagging sense that perhaps they’re right; that Houston, for all of its diversity, for all of its affordability, for all of its expansiveness, maybe isn’t that awesome, and that better pastures lie just a plane ride away.
In the newsroom diversity debate, some of the criticism has centered around this idea: that the reason why these new media ventures have such monochromatic, sausagey mastheads is that they are insulated from the wider culture, and therefore dependent on mostly white, mostly male, and mostly coastal networks for their hiring needs.
Can you move to a big city if you’re earning a modest salary? Yes, but people don’t really talk about the least trendy neighborhoods you can move to, which tend to be browner and poorer.