Researchers from the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), a Chicago-based nonprofit, wrote a report about segregation on March 24, 2017, that raised a compelling question among many Americans.
The question is: If more Caucasian Americans knew that segregation triggers many socioeconomic problems, would they try to decrease it?
Researchers from the MPC attempted to create a formula to estimate, individually and collectively, the cost of this problem in their report, “The Cost of Segregation.” These researchers analyzed a number of patterns from 100 of the largest metropolitan areas and 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 talked about other issues concerning segregation. For instance, it explained how segregation is an issue in many areas, not just for black, brown and poor communities. It also discussed how not having 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 city retirees have a difficult time finding good housing within city limits.
The report concluded that Chicago would gain many benefits by simply lowering its segregation rate. These benefits include a rise in African-American income while lowering crime and raising the education level of if Black 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 own communities as it prohibits 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,” said segregation is not a random thing on the market. She also shared how white people do not like to patronize stores in black neighborhoods, albeit they are the ones 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 being blown out of proportion, and social media is egging people on unnecessarily. He believes that social media is actually the cause of what he calls “new racism.”
Bruemmer was not the only one who felt 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 blacks and Hispanics.
Other than polls, some people have opted to take the IAT test which reveals their own level of racism.
The IAT is a popular online test developed by social science researchers from Yale, Washington, Virginia, and Harvard Universities to test inherent biases. According to a recent report, 88 percent of white people that have taken this test, subconsciously associate white with “good” and black with “bad.”
Racism is not something people are born with. It is not something that is in one’s DNA. Racism is taught and it goes hand-in-hand with segregation.
Some people are subconsciously racist and this triggers many social issues among Americans. Arguably, white people 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