Racial Residential Segregation

745 Words3 Pages
The contemporary distinctive patterns of segregation and poverty in the United States often relate back to the issue of race. Scholars have looked at the institutional forces that shape differential life outcomes of American racial minorities, particularly African Americans, to explain such patterns. Massey and Denton explore racial residential segregation in the United States throughout the 20th century. They argue that the making and concentration of the (African American) underclass in inner cities resulted from institutional and interpersonal racism in the housing market that perpetuates already existing racial segregation. Amanda Lewis and colleagues adds more insight to Massey and Denton’s investigation with their comprehensive overview…show more content…
They argue that institutional racism in the housing market enacted by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), private loan and real estate institutions and actors, and white residents effectively and permanently isolated African Americans. Institutionalized racist practices of the housing market such as redlining and steering, coupled with white flight and structural disinvestment in African American neighborhoods, effectively isolated African Americans and further contributed to the creation of black ghettos. Thus, residential segregation concentrates poverty, erodes institutional and economic support, and ultimately causes its residents to normalize their problematic social environment of high levels of joblessness, teenage pregnancy, drugs, and violence. If the segregation of African Americans were to be resolved by their economic achievement and class mobility, middle-class African Americans should be able to enter white neighborhoods of comparable income levels. However, as Massey and Denton show, once the threshold of “too many black families” is crossed, white flight occurs and poorer black families move into the neighborhood, creating (and expanding) racially segregated…show more content…
As Lewis et al. show, institutional inequality in housing is closely related to the institutions of education, job market, and criminal justice. The authors show that residentially segregated (African) Americans have limited access to quality education, which leads to the disproportionate overrepresentation of blacks in the lower level of the job market and underrepresentation at the top. Lewis and colleagues further argue that the practices of racial preference that occur during hiring processes on the manager or hiring committee’s side also complicate and restrict the job prospects of many African Americans. Moreover, black (and brown) Americans are grossly overrepresented in the criminal justice system, especially since the so-called “War on Drugs” in the 1980s. Since incarceration leads to political and civil disenfranchisement in the United States, the mass incarceration of black and brown men and the consequent loss of rights to participate in the civil society and its processes are especially concerning. The authors argue that the interplay of racial residential segregation, low-quality schooling, and exposure and vulnerabilities to crime and violence so prevalent in these segregated neighborhoods have established a “public school to prison”
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