What will it take to end residential segregation? – Virginia Law Weekly



By the way, it was after about twenty minutes that I understood why part of this conversation was familiar to me: Rothstein was interviewed on NPR Fresh air in 2017 when his book was first published.[1] If you missed the conference, I highly recommend that you check out this interview. It was because of Rothstein’s passion for this topic that I was more than happy to continue listening, and the talk incorporated his ideas on how residential segregation played a role in COVID-19 and the protests. from 2020.

Residential segregation is a root cause of racial disparities in health. For COVID-19, we see this manifesto in testing disparities: When Texas reopened after its first shutdown, four of six major cities had testing sites disproportionately located in neighborhoods whiter than the city’s median. .[2] Food deserts are disproportionately located in minority neighborhoods: Hispanics are a third more likely to have access to a supermarket chain than the average American; Blacks are half as likely.[3]

Residential segregation directly contributes to the wealth disparities between white and black families. People of color were not only directed to cities, they were prohibited from buying homes in the suburbs, pushed into high cost living areas where most families have to rent. Rothstein accuses the racist policies of the Federal Housing Administration, the Veterans Administration, and private mortgage lenders of contributing significantly to the generational wealth gap. Black families were not allowed to buy affordable housing in the suburbs until the Fair Housing Act of 1968, when it was too late. White families who had had exclusive access to these areas had built up equity in their homes and pushed up prices; they were able to sell their homes well above the national median income and use that money as the basis for their family’s future. These white families had the capital to send their children to college, to finance their retirement and to leave money after their death. It was a major boost that specifically left black families behind.

Moving on to the question-and-answer portion, Professor Cannon joined Rothstein on screen. While it is always a joy to hear Professor Cannon speak about environmental policy, as the program director of the Law School in Communities and the Environment (PLACE), he was uniquely qualified to participate in the conversation. So what will it take to end residential segregation? Rothstein does not hesitate. “You cannot reverse racial discrimination without race specific policies. We need positive action. ”

What these policies should be precisely is harder to say. There is no way to close the generational wealth gap caused by a century of unfair lending practices and the health impacts caused by redlining. One point Rothstein returns to over and over again is that residential segregation is not de facto; it is not the result of individual preferences or income differences. In America, segregation is de jure; the result of legislative and political decisions.

The hour-long lecture went quickly and I was surprised to hear Professor Cannon say it was time for one last question. Rothstein has an intense way of speaking, and the conference was an engaging experience. Concluding the question-answer, Rothstein concluded with a direct appeal: “I am not speaking to you as lawyers or architects,” he insisted. “I am speaking to you as citizens.

Beyond what we do with our careers, it is the choices we make in our own neighborhoods that can have the most direct impact in ending residential segregation.

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