Build the Wall? It’s Already Built

Rhetorical Analysis #2

By Kwesi Billups

In Part II of Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment, Sarah Schindler details the social and economic exclusion of marginalized racial groups and classes that has historically manifested itself throughout the physicality of built environment. Schindler believes that laden within the deepest subtext of America’s social fabric lies the innate social inequality that has fueled centuries of civil rights conversations, but that this oppressive underbelly to the American experiment also manages to take the form of architectural discrimination as a result of the disparate inner workings of the country. In Part I, Schindler first established architectural exclusion’s definition as the structuring of one’s “built environment” with the goal of “constraining” the behavior of the disenfranchised (1943). The idea of social inequality gaining a means of release and expression through government policy and regulation is not a new one, but Schindler includes that the very space we are bound by can, and historically has, defined the nature of our social action

Part II finds Schindler recognizing architecture’s rhetorical nature as a means of structuring countless interconnected architectural forms that share a common message: the perpetual marginalization of social and economic groups that face societal dismissal on virtually every level of interaction with space. Social cues are all around us: everything from the concept of building bridges to the design of park benches or the presence of sidewalks in a community gains new meaning when viewed within the context of the what Schindler describes as the physical segregation of members of marginalized social groups from a socioeconomic majority (1956).


Sarah Schindler. “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment.” The Yale Law Review, 2015, 1937–2023.

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