Saturday, October 17, 2015

Forecast 5 — Shelter at the intersection of race and community

I'm diverging from my usual Earth justice viewpoint to talk about racial and social justice. I think our class has been overwhelmingly focused on my bias, and I'd like to diverge this time.

Please correct me if my take on any of this is biased or disrespectful. I'm writing about this from a position of white, educated, middle-class privilege and I imagine I have much to learn.

My quote is from February 2015's "Why are the Twin Cities so segregated?"

Although the Twin Cities was committed to civil rights and racial integration through much of the 1970s, this commitment began to collapse in the mid-1980s. Political apathy about racial equality was accompanied by exclusionary housing practices in the suburbs. Increasing concern over the availability of affordable housing accelerated the growth of the subsidized housing industry within the central cities – the PHI. The cities themselves participated in this process, creating the Family Housing Fund, a “quasipublic” intermediary which produced thousands of housing units in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. As a result of segregation, city schools declined, which gave momentum to a “school choice” movement that sought to implement free-market ideas in the education system. These so-called “education reformers” would become the PEC. Its policies have increased and preserved the growth of educational segregation.

The majority of affordable housing is built in neighborhoods that are already low-income and vastly segregated, as this is the path of least resistance. Try to build affordable housing in the suburbs, and suddenly people are coming out in spades to express their concern over "safety" and "bad influence." Plus, housing vouchers are often rejected in areas that are not low-income. So, children growing up in these low-income housing situations are sent to low-income schools, where the vast majority are nonwhite and low-income. As separate is not equal and suggesting that these schools simply "catch-up" is non-effective, by doing this we are assuring that low-income minority students grow up in unchallenging, demotivating environments.

If segregation continues, income inequality will only grow — driving up nonviolent crime rates as people struggle to make ends meet, and increasing polarization between racial groups.

We need to stop being apathetic about segregation and fearing people who have been classified into different racial groups, and start fighting for both inclusion and diversity in our neighborhoods, our schools, our workplaces, and all other spaces.

Shelter interpretation
I think of shelter as community, as empathy, as understanding. It's knowing everyone around you, and not fearing them and their differences. It's believing that you can trust your neighbors and that they would support you and uplift you during hardship.

Segregation inherently decreases empathy among groups. When you don't interact with each other, who is to stop you from forming biases and stereotypes? Or when you witness a re-occuring behavior and attribute it to their character, to their genetics, to their "inferior intelligence" that came from being a part of a certain group. That is the mindset that allows genocide, slavery, and everyday violence. This mindset is also society's way to justify the symptoms of an oppressive system, negating the underlying truth that "in your situation, I would do the exact same." 

1 comment:



Just keeping things on the up and up since this is for my students to communicate first.