Michael Brown’s death and the resulting protests and racial tension brought considerable attention to that town.
Observers who had not been looking closely at our evolving demographic patterns were surprised to see ghetto conditions we had come to associate with inner cities now duplicated in a formerly white suburban community: racially segregated neighborhoods with high poverty and unemployment, poor student achievement in overwhelmingly black schools, oppressive policing, abandoned homes, and community powerlessness.
And in any event, those other suburbs were able to preserve their almost entirely white, upper-middle-class environments by enacting zoning rules that required only expensive single family homes, the thinking goes.
No doubt, private prejudice and suburbanites’ desire for homogenous affluent environments contributed to segregation in St. But these explanations are too partial, and too conveniently excuse public policy from responsibility.
A more powerful cause of metropolitan segregation in St. Report of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.
Louis and nationwide has been the explicit intents of federal, state, and local governments to create racially segregated metropolises. Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement. Race and Hispanic Origin of Householder– Families by Median and Mean Income: 1947 to 2009” (online data table).
Many of these explicitly segregationist governmental actions ended in the late 20 century but continue to determine today’s racial segregation patterns. Louis these governmental policies included zoning rules that classified white neighborhoods as residential and black neighborhoods as commercial or industrial; segregated public housing projects that replaced integrated low-income areas; federal subsidies for suburban development conditioned on African American exclusion; federal and local requirements for, and enforcement of, property deeds and neighborhood agreements that prohibited resale of white-owned property to, or occupancy by, African Americans; tax favoritism for private institutions that practiced segregation; municipal boundary lines designed to separate black neighborhoods from white ones and to deny necessary services to the former; real estate, insurance, and banking regulators who tolerated and sometimes required racial segregation; and urban renewal plans whose purpose was to shift black populations from central cities like St. Governmental actions in support of a segregated labor market supplemented these racial housing policies and prevented most African Americans from acquiring the economic strength to move to middle-class communities, even if they had been permitted to do so.
White flight certainly existed, and racial prejudice was certainly behind it, but not racial prejudice alone.
Government policies turned black neighborhoods into overcrowded slums and white families came to associate African Americans with slum characteristics.
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