Othering & Belonging Institute holds residential segregation seminar

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Kira Rao-Poolla/Staff
A residential segregation seminar titled “The Roots of Structural Racism: Residential Segregation in the United States" was conducted Tuesday by campus's Othering & Belonging Institute.

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Several authors and researchers explored segregation and its consequences during a seminar Tuesday held by UC Berkeley’s Othering & Belonging Institute.

In the seminar, titled “The Roots of Structural Racism: Residential Segregation in the United States,” Samir Gambhir, program manager of the institute’s Equity Metrics program, noted that 80% of metropolitan areas are more segregated as of 2019 than they were in 1990. Despite an overall increase in diversity, his research found that of the 213 largest cities in the United States, only two were racially integrated.

Gambhir, along with Arthur Gailes, a data scientist and economist at the institute, and Stephen Menendian, the institute’s assistant director, worked on a project that provides a new interactive mapping tool.

“We have high hopes that ordinary people will use the map, find their homes and look at their communities and see how they change over time,” Menendian said during the seminar. “We’re trying to make this publicly accessible so that people have this data at their fingertips.”

Menendian said the group also aspires to provide the information to affordable housing advocates who might otherwise require expensive experts. The map shows racial composition, the level of segregation and the types of segregation from 1980 to 2019, according to Menendian.

The report also notes that poverty rates are three times higher in neighborhoods of color than segregated white neighborhoods and adds that Black and Latinx children raised in integrated communities earn more than those in segregated communities of color. According to Gambhir, the findings emphasize how racial residential segregation is a “structural problem.”

“Once you have two separate communities with different social and economic conditions, any race-neutral policy is going to have different impacts on each of those communities, and in many cases … it is going to be much worse on African American communities than on white communities,” said Richard Rothstein, author of “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America,” during the seminar.

Rothstein noted that the high rates of asthma among Black children, which can result in loss of sleep and lower achievement. Lead poisoning, which affects IQ, is more prevalent in Black and urban neighborhoods, he added

Past segregation has led to inequality in terms of health, education, employment and policing practices, among other areas, according to Margery Turner, a fellow at the Urban Institute and author of “Public Housing and the Legacy of Segregation.”

“They are undermining people’s quality of life day to day,” Turner said during the seminar. “They are blocking access to upward mobility and opportunities for success and progress, and I think they are passing harms from one generation to the next. This is fundamentally important to equity in our country and the future of our country. ”

“Contact Kira Rao-Poolla at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @kiraraopoolla. “