Segregated By Design
July 29, 2020 7:56 PM   Subscribe

Segregated By Design examines the forgotten history of how our federal, state and local governments unconstitutionally segregated every major metropolitan area in America through law and policy. Website here.
posted by UhOhChongo! (10 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

here's stratechery on racial segregation in madison, milwaukee and minneapolis, and quoting kareem abdul-jabbar: "Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you're choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it's everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands."
posted by kliuless at 9:14 PM on July 29, 2020 [17 favorites]

Thank you for posting this. I read his book a couple years ago, and it was eye-opening. One thing that does surprise me (for the better) is how familiar the Gen-Z students I teach are with these concepts, like redlining and zipcode disparities.* I was on a mentoring call with a college student yesterday and telling her about how we set up research projects on health disparities, and she was shocked that as little as ten years ago, we did not talk about "social determinants of health" -- this phrase wasn't even in common currency -- and the closest we got to acknowledging implicit bias was a lecture or two on "cultural competency." Whereas it seems like every kid these days has taken the Implicit Associations Test, much like my educational cohort took the Myers-Briggs.

*I much prefer the term zipcode disparities to racial disparities, because when you say "racial disparities," half the time you'll get someone perpetuating the myth that African Americans are genetically more prone to heart disease or asthma. I made this mistake myself when I was a young'un, and I'm embarrassed about it in retrospect. Whereas zipcode disparities really hammers home that this is not an "inherent" characteristic of certain groups, but rather a knock-on effect of environmental experience (which in turn is a result of public-private partnership to prevent integration, including in the so-called progressive Northeast and Pacific Northwest -- one of the worst conversations at a professional conference was with a friend of my mentor's who tried to insist to me that Portland has no racial tension. I had to walk away; my mentor was pissed; sorry not sorry.)
posted by basalganglia at 4:23 AM on July 30, 2020 [12 favorites]

Timely. Just the other day someone pointed out to me that after those four Black college students succeeded in getting the Woolworth's lunch counter desegregated, American society resegregated the lunch counters by moving all the white people and all the Woolworth's out to the suburbs. If you won't accept inferior service, the message was, you don't get service at all. No department stores, no supermarkets.

The timing isn't quite right to say that desegregation efforts caused white flight to the intentionally-segregated suburbs, since that had been going on for at least a decade before the lunch counter protests (and ghettoization for much longer than that), but they surely accelerated the work and increased the determination of city planners.
posted by clawsoon at 6:37 AM on July 30, 2020 [11 favorites]

The University of Richmond's Digital Scholarship Lab hosts the Mapping Inequality project where you can interactively view and explore the HOLC maps for cities across the United States.

The wall in Detroit mentioned in the video is the Birwood Wall, built in 1941 to physically separate the working class Black Eight Mile-Wyoming community (D7 on the Detroit redlined map) from a proposed whites-only development so the latter could receive FHA funding. Black residents, who owned their land and had been working for 20 years to build their own homes, could not get mortgages.

Meanwhile, the city of Detroit continually tried to move them from the land as the white population grew out to this area of the city (which is today on its northern border, just south of Eight Mile Road). The city attempted to site temporary war worker housing for Blacks in the neighborhood, which the residents saw as a tactic to later declare the area a slum, condemn and clear the land, and re-divide the lots to create white neighborhoods. The residents were able to successfully fight back, extracting a commitment from the FHA to subsidize homes for Black families in return for accepting the placement of temporary war worker housing just east of the wall. They were thus able to escape the fate of the more well-known Black Bottom/Paradise Valley neighborhoods, which were largely demolished due to urban renewal in the '40s and '50s.
posted by Preserver at 7:29 AM on July 30, 2020 [8 favorites]

See this twitter thread to see the way we are currently going, vs the way we should be going (recommended in this video), re: discriminatory practices in real estate:

Fry - anniefryman
posted by The_Vegetables at 10:03 AM on July 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

It seems strange to me that this was at the same time an explicit racial segregation - and also something that was collectively forgotten about recently.

I remember when I first started hearing stories about redlining. I thought - surely, this is not an important story because everyone knows it already, right? It felt like a fact of the past I was learning, like in any history class. But then I started seeing more and more stories, about how people had hidden the past. How people denied it existed.

I am glad that the video says we need to admit to the past and take responsibility. We need to take responsibility.
posted by rebent at 10:06 AM on July 30, 2020 [2 favorites]

Researching something completely different this week, I came across these two relevant stories from my area:

* How racial housing covenants were overturned in Missouri--and the not-good results

* After extensive research in the neighborhood, indicating a positive reception, the first African-American family moves in the Troost Lake neighborhood. The results were--again--not good.

Yet, I still hear people maintain, with some semblance of a straight face, that there is no segregation or discrimination going on here.
posted by flug at 3:27 PM on July 30, 2020 [5 favorites]

One home, a lifetime of impact - "In 1936 a widowed black woman bought a home and it changed her family's financial worth for generations. Today homeownership rates of black people lag even further behind whites' rates, affecting their ability to build wealth."
posted by kliuless at 10:04 PM on August 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

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