Detroit is the most segregated city in America, according to a new study from the Othering and Belonging Institute at the University of California-Berkeley. The study also ranks the Detroit-Warren-Livonia metropolitan area fourth. segregated metropolitan area in the countryside.
Study researchers point out History of Detroit as a destination for black South Americans during the Great Migration, and city and state government efforts to keep these newcomers isolated in certain neighborhoods. Segregation in the metro area increased as whites fled to the suburbs, making Detroit a predominantly black city in 1980.
Stephen Menendian is one of the project researchers and the Research Director of the Othering and Belonging Institute. He says cities like Detroit often suffer from chronic divestment, which contributes to inequality in public goods.
“They suffered from deindustrialization, but also from a few decades of disinvestment, âsays Menedian. “A a lot of these cities in this Midwestern industrial corridor in the middle of the Atlantic, like Newark, like Detroit, like Flint: they’ve been under trusteeship. They went bankrupt, especially after the last recession. These are places that have suffered from a kind of austerity political and economic regime. “
Peter Hammer is Professor of Law at Wayne State University and Director of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne State. He agrees with Menendian’s assessment of Detroit’s financial condition contributing to segregation.
““WWhat we got in Detroit, if you go back to emergency management and bankruptcy, was really the denial of democracy for the largest predominantly black city in the country, and the new charter struggles unfolding at the time. where we are talking, âhe said. âYou had a Democratic mayor and a Democratic governor basically telling the citizens of Detroit that they couldn’t adopt rational policies. They were trying to get the root causes of this spatial structural racism: a right to water, a right to affordable housing, a right to recreation, a right to public safety and the democratic process to say, no, you don’t deserve those rights. And that only compounds the kind of story of a century of deepening of segregation. “
Hammer says the information in the study isn’t new, but it’s important nonetheless. Creating a more integrated and economically fair Detroit isn’t something that can happen overnight, he says.
“One of the things I do in my seminars is write ‘solution’ on the board and cross it out. Because there is no quick fix, there will be no short term solutions. We have to start seeing this as a multigenerational approach But the heart of it is fundamental changes in the way we do business normally, âsays Hammer.
Hammer says ownership is the primary vehicle for accumulating wealth in the United States, something black and brown Detroiters have never had access to, due to redlining.
“We need to put some form of economic development that puts people at the center of development, not property. We need to see Detroit school children as the real treasures of Detroit, not the art of IAD that was saved in bankruptcy proceedings. “
Menendian agrees with Hammer’s assessment of people-centered economic development.
“We must invest. We need to invest in pre-K. We need to invest in child care. We need to invest in extracurricular activities, we need to invest in community colleges. We need investments in our people that will improve their chances and life cycles as well as their health and well-being rather than in things that we have invested in over the past 40 or 50 years like prisons and prisons. “