February 9, 2017 - mh9868a
RA1: The Racist Designs of American Cities
In part two of her piece “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment,” Sarah Schindler argues that cities are intentionally designed to segregate a city’s poor and minority populations. Specifically, she argues that city designers put poor communities in undesirable locations to avoid clashes with the upper class. For example, in New York City low income communities are often placed in parts of a city that make access to public transportation extremely difficult. Unfortunately, this makes it harder for minorities to gain access to good jobs because those jobs are located in city hubs. Therefore only upper class citizens can have ample access to good jobs and great housing locations that are close to public transportation. Thus, the strategic placement of minorities makes it nearly impossible for them to improve their poor social and economic situations.
Along with the access to public transportation, Schindler shows intentional class segregation in cities is the placement of interstates and highways. Indeed highways are noisy and inconvenient for those who live near them. Therefore, they are placed near poor communities. For instance, Peter Simek of D Magazine explains how the highways in Dallas lead right to former Freedmen’s Towns. Again, planners of both New York City and Dallas purposefully placed highways in the undervalued areas to avoid disturbances in upper class communities in idealistic locations. Additionally, the noise from the highway will bring down the values of the homes and apartments close by which attracts even poorer residents to already undesirable areas. As a result putting highways through poor neighborhoods further segregates the rich and poor residents of cities.
Schindler argues that cities are intentionally designed to segregate a city’s poor and minority populations from the wealthy white populations. Ultimately this argument is very important for Schindler to argue because it shows how deeply rooted racism is in United States society. Hence major cities in America are historically designed to separate the rich whites and the poor minorities, and this racist design is still widely used in America.
Schindler, Sarah. “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment.” The Yale Law Journal, pp. 20–40.
Simek, Peter. “The Racist Legacy of America’s Inner-City Highways.” D Magazine, 18 Mar. 2016.