Brown vs. Board of Education, the pivotal Supreme Court decision that made school segregation unconstitutional, turns 70 years old on May 17, 2024. At the time of the 1954 ruling, 17 U.S. states had laws permitting or requiring racially segregated schools. The Brown decision declared that segregation in public schools was “inherently unequal.” This was, in part, because the court argued that access to equitable, nonsegregated education played a critical role in creating informed citizens – a paramount concern for the political establishment amid the Cold War. With Brown, the justices overturned decades of legal precedent that kept Black Americans in separate and unequal schools.
On April 23, 2023, the Washington state legislature passed the Covenants Homeownership Act (CHA), pioneering legislation that will provide compensation to victims of the racist restrictive covenants that destroyed opportunities for generations of Black, Asian, Latinx, and Indigenous families. Historians have been working in dozens of locations to document the extent and impact of racial restrictive covenants, finding them in thousands of neighborhoods and showing that they have a close connection to today’s disparate rates of homeownership and wealth. Now the state of Washington is taking action to compensate the victims, and doing so with a law designed to survive court challenges that might scuttle reparations or programs that are overtly race based.
For many years, I worked in Boston public housing with teams of residents, community organizations, public housing staff and other professors on reducing and removing the many asthma triggers that caused the highest rates of asthma and asthma attacks in the city. Living and working in the heart of the city neighborhoods, I was keenly aware of the apartheid nature of public and residential housing (black Roxbury, white South Boston, white gentrification overtaking Boston’s mixed-income interracial neighborhoods, and white suburbs) I had been familiar with the mid-20th century pattern of “white flight” from urban neighborhoods to suburbs, abetted by venal realtors scaring white residents to sell low while selling high to black homebuyers, and “redlining”–realtors and banks refusing to show or offer mortgages to qualified African American homebuyers in white neighborhoods.
I am the author of a book, The Color of Law, that disproves the myth of de facto segregation. In truth, we are residentially segregated, not naturally or from private bigotry, but primarily by racially explicit policies of federal, state, and local governments designed to prevent African Americans and whites from living as neighbors; these 20th-century policies were so powerful that they determine much of today’s residential, social, and economic inequality. Because powerful government policy segregated us, racial boundaries violate the fifth, 13th, and 14th amendments. Our nation thus has a positive constitutional obligation to redress segregation with policies as intentional as those that segregated us. The federal government made housing and homeownership critical to families’ economic stability and upward mobility.
Despite its liberal reputation — and Democrats controlling the legislature for the last 23 years and the governor’s mansion for nine — Connecticut is one of the most segregated places in the country. And with thousands of residents pouring into the streets this month to protest racism, housing advocates and progressive Democrats saw an opportunity to change that, calling for an overhaul of the state’s exclusionary housing laws. That opportunity, however, appears to be fading. At the state Capitol, Gov. Ned Lamont and legislative leaders have shelved a raft of proposals that could spur more affordable housing, after ending the legislative session early this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
HARTFORD, Conn. — On a sweltering Saturday afternoon last June, Crystal Carter took a deep breath as she walked toward the red “for rent” sign. Shaded by tall oak trees, the three-story duplex looked cozy. The first floor siding was painted yellow, with white railings leading to the front door. The windows appeared new, the lawn freshly cut. Although the property was in Barry Square, on the edge of a struggling area in southern Hartford, the family outside buoyed Carter’s spirits.
For the second consecutive week, students in New York City went on strike Monday morning to protest persistent segregation in their schools more than six decades after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that schools must serve children of all races equally. Led by the grassroots campaign Teens Take Charge, hundreds of students from several city high schools demanded an end to New York's "screening" system which has made the United States' largest school district also its most segregated. "We've met with politicians time and time again to urge them to integrate our schools," Marcus Alston...
New study shows the differences in economic activity—and access to opportunity—between neighborhoods new analysis of investment patterns in Baltimore shows the degree to which decades-old housing policy that divided the city by race has locked in a landscape of “haves” and “have nots.” Between 2011 and 2016, Baltimore neighborhoods that are less than 50% African American received four times the investments of neighborhoods that are over 85% African American, according to the report published today by the Urban Institute.
It’s a little-acknowledged reality that housing markets distribute more than mere dwellings. That’s because people’s place in the social order is intimately related to their geographic location generally, and where they live specifically. Housing quality functions both as a reflection and driver of inequality. Beyond that, however, better homes come with better neighborhoods that afford other opportunity-expanding advantages: good, well-funded schools; high-quality and readily available health care; agreeable recreational facilities and parks; full-service grocery stores with healthy foods; excellent retail outlets; nice sit-down restaurants; well-kept roads and other infrastructure; safe distance from pollutants, major transport and cargo routes...
The construction of new natural gas-fired power plants in Pennsylvania is disproportionately harming lower-income populations in rural parts of the state, while communities of color are substantially more likely to live near existing gas-powered plants in the state, according to a new report. Released Wednesday by Food & Water Watch, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental advocacy group, the report paints an alarming picture of what the dramatic growth in natural gas production in Pennsylvania means for disadvantaged communities, both urban and rural, that are more likely than ever to host the industry’s rapid expansion of drilling and power plants in the state. People of color make up 30 percent or more of the population in nearly 25 percent of Pennsylvania census tracts but make up nearly half of the census tracts within a three-mile footprint of an existing fossil fuel power plant.
How would you describe a white town in a southern state in the United States that froze the tender for plots of land in a new neighborhood because it risked allowing blacks to move in? As racist? What would you think of the town’s mayor for claiming the decision was taken in the interests of preserving the “white character” of his community? That he was a bigot? And how would you characterize the policy of the state in which this town was located if it enforced almost complete segregation between whites and blacks, ghettoizing the black population? As apartheid, or maybe Jim Crow? And yet, replace the word “white” with “Jewish” and this describes what has just happened in Kfar Vradim, a small town of 6,000 residents in the Galilee, in Israel’s north. More disturbing still, Vradim’s policy cannot be judged in isolation. It is a reflection of how Israeli society has been intentionally structured for decades.
By Mark Karlin for Truthout - However, as I completed the research and writing for the book, I found that in this country we have had and continue to have a stubborn insistence on educating children who are economically vulnerable in completely different ways than we do the children who are wealthy. We try to convince students who are not wealthy that certain forms of education (such as those that are vocational in nature, or that include art, music and support for different learning styles) would work best for them. In this way, educational apartheid has remained constant. At the same time, children of color, or poor children who are somehow able to live in school districts and neighborhoods that have high performing schools can actually attend them. So, that's a definite change. The late poet, Amiri Baraka, referred to [the US] as a "changing same." I think in many ways that construct aptly describes our nation's educational system relative to students who are poor and of color. Educational apartheid is a changing same. How is capitalism related to the "segrenomics" of education in the US? Segrenomics is a term I came up with to describe what I saw in so many discrete educational periods in [the US] where there was a consistent cycle for plundering funds supposedly for our nation's most vulnerable students and then hoarding those same funds to educate students who were either wealthy, or white and often times ... both.
By Jennifer Berkshire for Alternet - Here, two decades of the policies that the Trump/DeVos education budget now wants to take national, have resulted in white flight and school closures, leaving Holland’s poor and minority students segregated in the few schools that remain open. I traveled to Holland last week for the annual Tulip Time festival, a celebration of the city’s Dutch heritage. But along with Dutch shoes and swagger, the legacy of Michigan’s now two-decade experiment with school choice was on vivid display as well, and it wasn’t pretty. First, some background. During the endless runup to DeVos’ confirmation hearing last year, it was the Wild West-style school choice she’d pushed in Detroit that garnered most of the attention. But DeVos was also behind Michigan’s inter-district choice policies that, starting in 2000, disrupted neighborhood attendance zones, just as the Trump administration’s proposed budget seeks to do. In Michigan, school choice has become the new white flight as white families have fled their resident districts for schools that are less diverse. The most dramatic example of this may be in DeVos’ own hometown of Holland.
By Jitu Brown for The Chicago Reporter - Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos seems not to hear the fierce protests of parents, teachers and school officials over school closings and charter expansion in New York, Chicago, Oakland, Detroit and other American cities. How else to explain her continuing tone-deaf comments praising the glories of school choice? In truth, school choice does not exist in most black and brown communities in the United States. That is why her words ring false and her promises sound empty to the people living in those communities. Whatever hope existed that DeVos would learn on the job and inform her boss, President Donald Trump, of the need to respect that history and build on the effectiveness of American public schools while improving them, has been dashed. During her confirmation hearings, DeVos was criticized for her lack of experience with and knowledge of the public education system. Her later words at the Brookings Institution exemplified someone in a position of great power, who just does not get it: “How many of you got here today in an Uber, or Lyft, or another ridesharing service? Did you choose that because it was more convenient than hoping a taxi would drive by?
By Natalie Y Moore for The Guardian - In a couple of days, President Barack Obama will give a farewell speech in his adopted hometown of Chicago. This is the city to which he moved as a young man in the 1980s, to work asacommunityorganiser, inspired by Harold Washington, the city’s first black mayor. Chicago is also where Obama met his wife, Michelle, a native of the city, had two daughters and launched a dazzling political career. Obama’s swan song will take place a touch north of Bronzeville, the South Side neighbourhood historically known as the “Black Belt”. When African Americans left the south in droves a century ago as part of the great migration, this is where they landed if Chicago was the final destination.