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tying in race and class

amanda sarah's picture
  • During the last class, my group discussed racial and financial segregation in cities, and wondered why those there was such an overlap between the lower class and minorities. “Racial Bias in Pennsylvania’s Funding of Public Schools” gives evidence that funding of public schools could contribute to class inequalities between white people and racial minorities. “How to destroy a public school system” mentions this inequality and refers to the “white flight” concept, calling it a “white noose”: “Former Philadelphia Mayor Richardson Dilworth... bluntly described Philadelphia as choked by the “white noose” of the suburbs. Those suburbs are a product of America’s postwar period, when the federal government subsidized the mortgages of white families deserting the city. As the urban industrial base vanished, Philadelphia was left with a rapidly declining middle class. Relatively affluent whites funded separate school districts, while poorer urbanites were left to fund the impoverished schools left behind. Dilworth insisted that a unified metropolitan school system was the only path to true desegregation.” This quotation also reminded me of part of a small group discussion I had during the last class. I thought it would be a good idea to build affordable housing in the suburbs to encourage desegregation of classes and races, but another student said that this would simply encourage affluent white families to move out even further. I think what that student said would also be true in this situation… if there was a “unified metropolitan school system”, wealthier families wouldn’t want to be a part of it, and would move from a “metropolitan” suburb to one even farther out if they could afford it.


jccohen's picture

amanda sarah,

I think you're suggesting is that if white, middle-class and upper-class people will always move further out, then what we're really talking about is the need to impact attitudes rather than or before housing patterns; is that right?  And if so, we're faced with the difficult question of how to impact the ways people see and understand each other in a circumstance in which they have relatively little exposure to each other...  A few related thoughts:  There are some successful mixed housing areas in both suburbs and small cities that have created pockets of better funded, relatively integrated schools.  And also, there's the question of breaking down our notion of what middle- and upper-class white people will do; for example, some attractive schooling options in some cities entice families to stay in or even move into the city...  Keep thinking about all this!