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WHY DO WE HAVE TO GO OVER THE PAST?

Sue O'Halloran Race Equity Speaker and Story Artist

3 min read

Apr 19

34

1




Because if something is still happening, it's not over.


TODAY'S THIRD WAVE OF SEGREGATION


Why are our cities still so segregated?


While the banking practice of redlining has been illegal for over half a century, the effect of these policies remains. We still live with discriminatory policies and practices such as exclusionary zoning and other land use policies that lock in segregation. A report out of the University of California at Berkeley found that out of U.S. metropolitan areas with more than 200,000 residents, 81 percent were more segregated in 2019 than in 1990.


Our nation’s growing diversity is producing more, not less, segregation and all the advantages and disadvantages that follow from racial separation. Housing advocates, for example, have a saying, “Tell me your zip code and I’ll tell you how long you’ll live.”


When we look back at the first and second waves of segregation (see previous articles here), we can think, “How could people not know this was going on?” But will we ask the same thing about this, the third wave of segregation, that continues today? Are we aware of the larger forces that control where we live, the opportunities that they open or close, and what is happening to people in other parts of our cities?


It is my hope that we won’t look back someday on this, the third wave of segregation, with the same surprised defense, “But I didn’t know!”


How do we avoid that justification? What’s to be done today? We can live in the welcoming, secure, diverse communities that so many of us desire. But to do this, we must become knowledgeable and proactive. We must deliberately connect neighborhood integration and affordable housing to other life-improving opportunities for all of us.


With vibrant, mixed-income communities throughout our entire nation, we can create strong tax bases that break our current cycle of advantages for some and diminished prosperity for others. We all lose when any system isolates us from each other. Back in 1968, the Kerner Report warned us that we “are moving toward two societies, one black, one white – separate and unequal.” It went on to say that residential integration is “the only course which explicitly seeks to achieve a single nation.” True opportunity that results from equitable, shared resources is the only way to create lasting stability, prosperity, and peace.


I believe an educated public can help create local and national policies that promote the everyday interests Americans share across our many lines of difference. We all care about job security, reasonable medical and housing costs, quality childcare, good schools, time with our family and friends, and living near our place of employment. We all yearn to live in safety. Where we live, and the opportunities to which we have access are crucial to these shared desires finding a common reality.


How do we do this? By getting involved in local fair housing groups that can show us how the pieces of the puzzle fit together – how school funding affects opportunity, how fair and affordable housing builds stronger communities and a more secure real estate market, and so on. For example, let your elected officials know that we need to do more than promote race equity within segregated neighborhoods. We can, for instance, make federal funds for housing projects dependent on plans for integration and an increase in affordable housing. To fashion healthy communities where people burst forth into their limitless possibilities we’re going to need to be informed, aligned, and organized.


Is this April’s Fair Housing Month the time we declare that we want to be a nation where everyone has the opportunity to excel and where everyone feels as if they belong?


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You may reprint this article with proper credit: Written by Sue O’Halloran at www.SusanOHalloran.com


Sue’s one-woman show, Dividing Lines: The Education of a White Girl in 10 Rounds, is available for download at: https://www.susanohalloran.com/product-page/dividing-lines-the-education-of-a-chicago-white-girl-in-10-rounds

 

“Sue tells a hundred-year history of segregated housing in Chicago that rings true for major cities across the country. Dividing Lines helps make sense of racial tension and lack of opportunity we experience today. I can’t believe I never learned this history!”

 

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If you know someone who is part of an organization that wants to focus on equity issues, would you send this article to them or tell them about O’Halloran Diversity Productions? They can reach us at susan@susanohalloran.com and we will set up a short conversation to see if we can be of help to them. Thanks in advance!



 


Sue O'Halloran Race Equity Speaker and Story Artist

3 min read

Apr 19

34

1

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