Reviews | It’s time to dismantle America’s residential caste system


Another function of the anti-black police is economic plunder. In 2014 alone, New York City received nearly $ 32 million in costs, fines and surcharges paid to criminal courts by people facing misdemeanors, subpoenas or other minor offenses. Researchers have estimated that, over two decades, the city’s take of its “zero tolerance” police force has exceeded half a billion dollars. They concluded that most of this income was “taken from relatively poor segments of the population, who live in heavily guarded neighborhoods.”

While aggressive policing generates revenue for local governments while harming black citizens, it also generates responsibilities that harm all taxpayers. A UCLA law professor looked at payments made by major cities to victims of police misconduct over five years and found that they totaled nearly three-quarters of a trillion dollars. The only beneficiaries of the systemic anti-black policing may be the owners and shareholders of companies that profit from mass incarceration. In Chicago, there are 851 blocks in which taxpayers spend over $ 1 million per block to incarcerate the residents who live there. These blocks are concentrated on the west and south sides, in the “hoods that Chicago built to contain the descendants.”

Children are also dragged into the prison state. As with segregated neighborhoods, segregated schools facilitate a totally different relationship between police and young citizens. A lawyer has found that the percentage of minority and poor students in a school is a good predictor of the use of strict security measures, even after controlling for actual levels of crime and disorder at school. In New York City, 5,200 full-time police officers patrolled public schools in 2017, while schools employed only about 3,000 guidance counselors.

Then there are the ways the state encourages private surveillance of black Americans by self-proclaimed citizen patrols. Barbeque by a lake in Oakland. Walk into his own gourmet lemonade business in San Francisco. A guest checked in at a Portland, Oregon hotel takes a call from his mom in the lobby. A child mows lawns for candy money in a Cleveland suburb. These and other “living black” acts led to calls to the police. This is what living in a white space can do to some people. Those who are used to being dominant, or who are not used to seeing dark bodies, are wary of blacks who do very ordinary things.

As with slavery, as with Jim Crow, law and social practice continue to allow non-black people to monitor and control black bodies. The worst of these social practices is violent vigilantism. Ahmaud Arbery. Trayvon Martin. Emmett Till. The killers of Arbery were charged and prosecuted. But the state of Georgia has allowed their self-defense behavior through permissive laws that make it easier to obtain a firearm and encourage, rather than discourage, its use. Georgia, like nearly three-quarters of US states, has a “stand up to your feet” law that eliminates any retreat requirements and allows gun owners to use force when they “reasonably believe” it. is necessary to defend oneself or to defend others.

Other laws quietly allow black surveillance to protect white space. It is estimated that 2,000 communities in 48 states have adopted “crime-free housing” or chronic nuisance ordinances that hold landlords accountable for the actions or non-actions of their tenants. Such ordinances are often adopted following an influx of racial diversity. They explode the range of activities that could lead to eviction and, depending on Professor of Law Deborah Archer, they are disproportionately enforced against black tenants.

When a tenant tries to seek state protection, by calling 911, for example, to control an abusive partner, in places with chronic nuisance orders, she may be evicted if she calls two or three times. . Faribault, Minnesota, for example, passed one of the toughest ordinances in the country. The ordinance prohibits disorderly conduct by tenants or their guests and gives Faribault police the power to order an eviction without arrest or conviction for any crime.

Descendants cannot win. They are watched, over-policed ​​and under-protected.

Heal a nation that started with it, and still suffers from it, white supremacy demands the abolition of residential caste and reparation processes in poor black neighborhoods. The state has an obligation to repair what it has set in motion and continues to reify.

But understanding and recognizing the role of geographic lines in structuring racial inequalities presents an opportunity – a targeted mechanism of transformation. My theory of redress is that those most traumatized by residential caste processes most deserve care, as well as the chance to be agents of their own liberation. This means that the government can and should prioritize neighborhoods that are at the center of the anti-black residential caste in America.

To begin with, the state should dismantle and overthrow running anti-black residential caste processes – through investments in black neighborhoods, rather than redlining and economic predation; inclusion rather than maintaining boundaries; fair public funding, rather than overinvestment and hoarding for places with high potential; humanization and care, rather than surveillance and stereotypes.

I suggest three essential pillars to guide government action. First, we need to change the state’s relationship with descendants from punitive to benevolent. Second, the state should view descendants as potential assets and empower them to be agents of change. Finally, the government must invest resources and transfer assets to support descendants and respected community institutions in black neighborhoods.

Among the new processes that could be implemented would be a regular neighborhood scan that critically examines all of the money a state spends in all neighborhoods, with a constant assessment of racial equity. Seattle, Minneapolis, and a few other cities officially require racial equity analysis in budgeting. Baltimore recently amended its city charter – through a ballot initiative – to establish a permanent fund to advance racial equity in housing, education and capital spending.

Applying a human perspective to descendants frees policymakers to innovate and focus on evidence-based strategies that could be cheaper and certainly more effective than punitive strategies based on racial dogma. Researchers at the University of Chicago Crime Lab and the University of Pennsylvania found that a program that provided summer employment for black teens in high-violence neighborhoods and an adult mentor reduced felony arrests by 43% violent. Independent peer-reviewed study found that a ‘pacification scholarship’ to support young men most vulnerable to violence in Richmond, California was associated with a 55% annual reduction in gun deaths . The organization Advancing Peace helps other cities to replicate the program. Other approaches, such as a Universal Basic Income pilot program in Stockton, California, have shown promising results. And several cities are responding to activists’ demands for collective ownership strategies to combat the displacement of communities of color and create sustainable affordable housing.

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