The Systematic Oppression of Architecture and Design

The systematic oppression of architecture and design of cities increases racial prejudices by keeping people separated by race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Sarah Schindler, author of Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation through Physical Design of the Built Environment, reintroduces the idea of the systematic oppression, stating, that “throughout history, people have used varied methods to exclude undesirable individuals from places where they are not wanted” (1942). The architecture was used as a new method, rather than laws or other restrictions, to manage the cities and determine the desired population.

One of the few ways that Schindler examines this motion is how the cities are designed to keep certain people from being able afford to purchase certain homes or property there. The cities are also constructed in a way that specifically changes traffic to reduce the movement of certain people in specific areas of the city. This is a way to keep neighborhoods free of foot traffic by removing sidewalks. Additionally, changing bus routes or even removing them from certain parts of a city keeps people from being able to use the bus system or from being able to reach work in those parts (1938). This ultimately removes them from the neighborhood, to one where they can reach work and to where the bus routes will take them. These designs are typically found in suburbs (1937).

The decisions of the architects and city designers contributes to the division of society while building on racial prejudice. The racial bias is deemed by the continuing oppression of folks who are not white and are not of upper/middle class or higher income. It keeps people stuck in a cycle that supports the segregation of society on the basis of racial bias. People’s struggles are found to be their own fault and their problem while in actuality they are put into that position by the architects of the city and by society. When cities are constructed in specific ways they are purposefully maintaining and monitoring the struggles of these people- playing god, if you will. When society is able to reduce this systematic oppression, to look past the stereotypes of race and socioeconomic status, only then will the cities be able to become more integrated and diverse.

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