America remains an intentionally segregated society

Natalie Y Moore writes: After the shooting of Philando Castile in Minnesota last Wednesday, the state’s appalled governor, Mark Dayton, said police wouldn’t have killed Castile if he had been white. Here’s a white politician recognising racism and not swatting it away like a pesky mosquito. But we need to recognise that a rigged, racist system of police brutality is indicative of deep-seated institutionalised racism.

Many of our cities are defined by entrenched residential segregation that created black ghettos and continues to perpetuate inequity. This was not by accident. In the 20th century, the government created housing policies that discriminated against black people and favoured white people in terms of wealth building. Despite the idea of “separate but equal” being struck down by our courts, the ideology still lingers in housing and public education. This isn’t about hokey ideas of harmony, of black and white people smiling and getting along just for the sake of getting along. Instead, if we start to address segregationist policies, we may have some hope of creating fairness.

After racial uprisings in US cities in the 1960s, the Kerner Commission released a report, which asserted that our country was moving towards two societies: one black, one white, separate and unequal. The report said: “Segregation and poverty have created in the racial ghetto a destructive environment totally unknown to white Americans. What white Americans have never fully understood – but the Negro can never forget – is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it and white society condones it.”

These words still ring true today.

Police brutality isn’t isolated from other forms of racism. Segregation is about division, disinvestment and uneven resources based on race. In policing, we often see white officers who grew up in homogenous white places placed in black urban settings. These officers enter without understanding racial and cultural differences. It’s a set-up for failure.

Segregation isn’t about choosing to live among like-minded or racially similar people. American segregation is historic and intentional and must be a part of any conversation on race as the root of many of our problems. [Continue reading…]

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