On March 24, 2017, researchers from the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), a Chicago-based nonprofit, released a report on the topic of segregation. The report raised a compelling question for many Americans.
That question is:
“If more people — especially educated professional Caucasian Americans — understood how they are directly harmed by the country’s pervasive racial segregation, would they be moved to try to decrease it?”
Researchers from the MPC attempted to create a formula to estimate, individually and collectively, “The Cost of Segregation” in their report. MPC researchers analyzed many patterns from 100 of the largest metropolitan areas in the Country including Chicago. They discovered that if Chicago, the fifth most racially and economically segregated region in the nation, lowered its segregation levels, it would set the city on a course for positive change.
The report explained several issues concerning segregation. For instance, it provided information on how segregation is a problem in many areas, not just for black, brown and poor communities. It also discussed how the absence of diversity among people hurts affluent communities. The report went on to suggest that as a result of segregation there is not only limited housing for young people, but also retirees, who have a difficult time finding suitable housing within city limits.
The report concluded that Chicago could gain several benefits by just lowering its segregation rate. Among the benefits include a rise in African-American income while reducing crime and increasing the education level of African American citizens.
The MPC report summary highlighted redlining as a problem for the city’s minority communities. Redlining prevents African-Americans from taking control of their communities because it prohibits or prevents them from obtaining the money needed to buy homes or start small businesses.
Amanda E. Lewis of the University of Illinois at Chicago and co-author of “Despite the Best Intentions: How Racial Inequality Thrives in Good Schools,” suggest that segregation is not a random condition influencing the market. She also implied that white people do not like to patronize stores in predominately black neighborhoods and that white persons are buying the most homes.
Racism and segregation are nothing new, and as far as Americans are concerned, will not go away anytime soon.
In 1995, 41 percent of Americans described racism as “a big problem.” In a recent national poll conducted by CNN and the Kaiser Family Foundation, almost half of all Americans believe racism is a large problem in today’s society.
Deborah Aust, a 48-year-old white woman, says she did not expect segregation/racism to get worse and blames it, in part, on the injustice of police brutality, and the judicial system failing African-Americans.
Jim Bruemmer, a white, 83-year-old retired advertising executive in St. Louis, who participated in the CNN/KFF poll sees things differently. He says that police brutality is blown out of proportion and that social media is engaging people unnecessarily and is the cause of what he labels “new racism.”
Bruemmer is not the only one who feels that racism today has no validity. In fact, in the poll, only 44 percent of white people found racism to be a problem. The other 66 percent of voters were African Americans and Hispanics.
Other than professional polls, some people have opted to take the IAT test which reveals their individual level of racism. This popular online test, developed by social science researchers from Yale, Washington, Virginia, and Harvard Universities, measures inherent biases. According to a recent report, 88 percent of white people that have taken the IAT test, subconsciously associate white with “good” and black with “bad.”
People are not born racist. It is not something found in a person’s DNA. Racism is a taught behavior, and it goes hand-in-hand with segregation.
Some people are subconsciously racist, and this triggers many social issues among Americans. Arguably, white people do see the issues America faces as a result of racism and segregation, yet many do nothing to help eradicate the problems it brings upon America’s black and brown communities. Perhaps this is because the issues do not immediately affect them.
Written by Trinity Oglesby
Edited by Cathy Milne
US News: America Has a Big Race Problem
NPR: Everyone Pays A Hefty Price For Segregation, Study Says
CNN: Is racism on the rise? More in U.S. say it’s a ‘big problem,’ CNN/KFF poll finds
Image Courtesy of Thomas Hawk’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License