A Symposium on Segregation in New York City


    Saturday, Feb 1st, 2020

    United Nations International School

    10 am - 3:30pm



      "New York City is the third most segregated city for blacks in the US and the second most segregated city for Asian Americans and Latinos.” - Fair Housing Justice Center
      This segregation is not by accident. According to the NYC Health Department, “Since the 1600s—when NYC was established by colonization—racist policies and practices have shaped where New Yorkers live and go to school, what jobs they have and what their neighborhoods look like. Over time, these policies and practices have built on each other to create deep inequity.”


      One of the best examples of discriminatory government policy is redlining. Throughout the 1930s, neighborhoods in over 239 American cities were rated on their "creditworthiness and risk.” Neighborhoods that were considered “optimal” or “good” for investment were outlined in green and blue. Neighborhoods seen to be in decline were coded yellow. Neighborhoods that were home to "foreign-born people,” "low-class whites,” and “negroes” were seen as “hazardous” and outlined in red on a map. Residents were denied home loans and redlined communities were denied investments.


      Over 50 years since the Fair Housing Act banned redlining, the “hazardous” warnings appear to be literally true. Decades of denying resources have led to vast disparities in health, housing, education, and in exposure to pollution, violence, and experiences with the criminal justice system across different zip codes in New York City. Living in certain zip codes expands opportunity while living in others diminishes it.


      "Segregated by Design” is a symposium at UNIS that will challenge us to confront the ongoing legacy of segregation across different zip codes in NYC and lift up the work of those working to end it and remedy its consequences.


      The day will feature:

      •  Keynote Speaker K. Bain, founder of 696 Build Queensbridge, who will speak on his work reducing violence in one of the largest and most segregated housing projects in the country
      • Workshops led by NYC organizations focused on the connections between segregation and health, housing, education, the criminal justice system and climate change
      • An exhibit created by Human Rights Project students
      • A theatre performance by UNIS students and EPIC theatre


      This symposium is free and open to the public. Registration is required.


      K. Bain

      K. Bain is a serial social entrepreneur. He has cofounded and cultivated several nonprofit and for-profit organizations. He currently is a Co-founder, and the Executive Director of Community Capacity Development, a 501c3 committed to applying the Human and Healing Justice models to providing tools and strategies for sustainable growth.


      K. Bain is also the founding director and visionary of 696 Build Queensbridge, which over the past 3 years has established itself as one of New York City’s most effective cure violence sites with unprecedented results in violence interruption activities and mediation endeavors.


      Previously, K Bain served as a New York City Director of legislation and budgetary affairs for the 45th Council district in Brooklyn. His role included duties such as participating in the balancing New York City’s 90-billion-dollar annual budget, as well as direct oversight of a multi-million-dollar member item budget. K has also been instrumental in the drafting, development and enactment of numerous pieces of legislation, most recently the Community Safety Act.


      In addition to his years of budget and policy experience, K. Bain’s passion for the arts, human justice and community capacity development remain at the forefront of his priorities. Whether working with the "highest risk” or criminal justice-involved youth or students in universities, K. Bain is committed to serving the many who find themselves faced with the systemic obstacles obstructing the sustainable growth and development of our most underserved communities.



      10:00 am: Welcome and Presentation by the UNIS Human Rights Project Students, Theatre


      10:30 am-11:15 am: Keynote: "Reducing Violence in One of America's Largest and Most Segregated Public Housing Developments" by K. Bain


      11:15 am-11:30 am Coffee Break, Cafeteria


      11:30 am-12:30 pm Workshop Session 1 (Scroll down for detailed descriptions of each workshop)


      12:30 pm-1:30 pm Lunch and Viewing of the Photo Exhibit created by Human Rights Project Students


      1:30 pm-2:30 pm Workshop Session 2 (Scroll down for detailed descriptions of each workshop)

      2:40 pm-3:30 pm Theatre Performance by UNIS Students and EPIC Theatre, Theatre (2nd Floor)


    • Workshops

      Session 1: 11:30am-12:30pm

      Session 2: 1:30pm-2:30pm


      Morning only in 500B


      New York City is facing an affordable housing crisis. In the last fifteen years, the average income for renters has increased by less than 15% while average rents increased by over 40%. As a result, 51% of New Yorkers are rent-burdened. 60,000 New Yorkers sleep in homeless shelters every night. In 2016, over 36,000 New Yorkers were evicted from their homes. People of color and immigrants in segregated neighborhoods are the most impacted by the housing crisis.


      Thanks to the work of activists organizing at both the state and city level to pass stronger legislation to protect tenants, evictions are finally starting to decline in New York. In 2017, New York City made history by becoming the first city in the US to pass a law providing legal counsel to all tenants facing eviction. The passage of the law is the result of three years of organizing by a group of advocates, tenants, academics and legal services providers who came together to form the Right to Counsel in NYC (RTCNYC) Coalition. As a result of the law, over 87,400 New Yorkers were provided with legal representation in housing court in 2018 and evictions declined 14%.


      This session will be led by Fitzroy Christian, a tenant organizer from the Bronx. He played a leading role in making the Right to Counsel in NYC a reality.


      Morning only in 505


      Today, many formerly redlined neighborhoods are undergoing new types of reinvestment in the form of gentrification. Gentrification is the process through which previously low-income areas are transformed into high-income areas through neighborhood rezoning and redevelopment.


      Contrary to popular belief, artists and hipsters are not responsible for gentrification. That fault lies with city government officials who rezone certain neighborhoods and set in place an influx of market-rate apartments. While gentrification has brought newcomers to previously segregated neighborhoods, it has not led to integration. In fact, as a result of increased housing costs, it has often led to the displacement of locals and exacerbated segregation patterns set in previous decades.


      This session will be led by Michael Higgins Jr., an organizer with the Brooklyn Anti-Gentrification Network (BAN). Michael's work focuses on public accountability from the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and further inclusion of public housing in the greater housing justice movement in New York City. Michael also leads "Gentrification in Downtown Brooklyn" walking tours with Social Justice Tours.


      Morning only in 503


      In New York City, the difference between infant and maternal mortality rates in affluent and low-income neighborhoods is striking. The infant mortality rate is 7.2 deaths per 1,000 live births in Central Harlem, compared to 0.8 just a few blocks away in the Upper East Side.


      Between 2006 and 2010, black women in NYC were twelve times more likely than white women to die as a result of pregnancy. This is one of the highest racial disparities in medicine today and puts black women in New York City in the same ballpark as women in North Korea. The disparity is also true of life threatening complications during pregnancy, measured by the SMM - severe maternal morbidity. Women in Brownsville, Brooklyn experienced the highest rates of complications during delivery with dangers arising in 497 out of every 10,000 deliveries. The lowest SMM rate is in Greenwich Village and Soho where 114 out of every 10,000 women experience complications during delivery.​

      This session will be led by Ellen Sidles, a certified health worker in Brooklyn specializing in labor doula care, lactation support, childbirth education, family counseling and birth advocacy. Ellen has been in the field for 27 years and is currently studying to be a midwife. She helped found the By My Side Birth Support program through Brooklyn Healthy Start, a federally funded program, which serves zip code areas in Brownsville, East New York and Bedford Stuyvesant.


      Afternoon only in 505


      According to the Fair Housing Justice Center, "The New York City region has one of the most diverse populations in the United States. And yet, housing discrimination and residential segregation are deeply pervasive. New York City is the third most segregated city for African Americans and the second most segregated city for Latinos and Asian Americans in the United States." This segregation is rooted in the history of redlining and other racist policies, but despite the fact that the Fair Housing Act banned housing discrimination over fifty years ago, housing discrimination remains rampant in New York. Housing discrimination perpetuates residential segregation and contributes to health disparities, social and economic inequalities, poverty and other harms.


      This workshop will be led Fred Freiberg, executive director of the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC), whose mission is to eliminate housing discrimination. Fred is a civil rights lawyer and one of the nation’s leading experts on the use of testing as an investigative tool to enforce civil rights laws. The session will focus on housing discrimination and segregation in NYC and on the FHJC's “Acting for Justice” program. This program hires professional actors and entertainers as “testers” who "pose as ordinary home seekers to observe the business practices of housing providers and others in order to determine if housing providers are complying with fair housing laws.


      Afternoon only in 501


      Over 65 years since Brown v Board of Education struck down laws that segregated public schools by race, US schools are resegregating. According to the UCLA-based Civil Rights Project, we are living in an America where hyper-segregated schools are the norm. The data says that black and brown students are going to the most segregated schools in the country.


      NYC schools are among the most segregated in the nation. A 2014 report from the Civil Rights Project found that New York has the most segregated schools in the country. A more recent report, just published in early 2020 by the Citizen’s Committee for Children in New York, found that only 28% of schools in this city are diverse. The report also found that two-thirds of Black and Latinx students in New York City attend schools that are more than 80 percent Black and Latinx.


      This session will be led by Dulce Marquez and Alexander Ruiz from Teens Take Charge, a group of teenagers leading a movement to integrate NYC schools. Members study present-day educational inequity and its historical roots, develop policy proposals, and lead advocacy campaigns targeting the city and school officials with the ability to enact their solutions.


      Afternoon only in 503


      The greatest determinant of a person’s health is their zip code. Throughout the US, residents of segregated, low-income, often formerly redlined communities, experience the poorest health outcomes and lowest rates of life expectancy.


      The average child born and raised in NYC can expect to live to 81.2 years of age. But life expectancy across the city can vary up to almost 11 years, depending on a child’s race, economic status, and zip code. Brownsville has the lowest life expectancy in NYC, at just 75.1 years. In the Upper East Side, life expectancy is 85.9.


      This session will be led by two guests. Odell Purifoy grew up in Brownsville and will tell his own personal story of what it was like to grow up in one of the city's most segregated neighborhoods and then go on to be the first person in his family to graduate from University. Reed Young uses photography to tell the stories of people and places that fascinate him. His work has been featured in National Geographic, The New Yorker, The New York Times, TIME magazine, NPR, Wired and The Guardian. In this session, he will present his photo essay on Brownsville and talk about his experiences photographing there.


      Afternoon only in 500A


      Living in NYC, it can be all too easy to go about one's daily business and feel the climate crisis is an abstract concept. This is made even easier by all the rhetoric surrounding what will happen to our grandkids and the all too common lens that the climate crisis is coming later on. This talk will be on how the climate crisis is affecting NYC here and now. The talk will be centered around considering which communities are impacted in what ways by the climate crisis (and noxious environmental facilities), what organizing is happening for equity, and what happened historically to get us to this point of having such climate inequity and environmental injustice in our city.


      This talk will be given by Dan Kaminsky. Dan was born and raised in Brooklyn. He founded and runs Social Justice Tours, an organization that uses walking tours to explore a variety of social justice issues throughout NYC. Dan has been involved in organizing his entire life, and has been part of many social movements seeking justice in NYC and around the world.



      Morning only in 507


      The legacy of redlining and its aftermath have fueled an era of mass incarceration in segregated communities of color in the US. Redlined neighborhoods endured years of disinvestment, white flight, neglect, and planned shrinkage which was followed by epidemics of poverty, drugs, and disease. But instead of addressing the systemic causes of urban decay, the state responded primarily through the criminal justice system.


      The US criminal justice system treats different races differently. There are now more men of color in prison, jail, on probation or parole in the U.S. than there were enslaved in 1850. In 2016, Blacks made up 12% of the US adult population but represented 33% of the prison population. Hispanics made up 16% of the adult population, but accounted for 23% of prisoners. If current trends continue, one in three Black males born in the U.S. in 2001 can expect to be incarcerated in his lifetime, compared to one in six Hispanic males and one in seventeen white males.

      This workshop will be led by Lewis Webb Jr., Director of the Healing and Transformative Justice Program of the American Friends Service Committee. Be prepared to take part in an interactive role play to help you understand how segregation and racism play out in lives and communities in the US, and in particular, in the US criminal justice system.


      Afternoon only in 507


      The legacy of redlining and its aftermath have fueled an era of mass incarceration in segregated communities of color in the US. Redlined neighborhoods endured years of disinvestment, white flight, neglect, and planned shrinkage which was followed by epidemics of poverty, drugs, and disease. But instead of addressing the systemic causes of urban decay, the state responded primarily through the criminal justice system.


      Communities of color in NewYork City and throughout the US are disproportionately targeted by broken windows policing and the war on drugs. Despite several government surveys showing that blacks and whites use drugs at roughly the same rates, between 2015 and 2018, black people across New York City were arrested on low-level marijuana charges at eight times the rate of white people and Latinos were arrested at five times the rate of whites, according to a 2018 New York Times investigation.


      This session will be led by Alex Vitale, professor of sociology and the coordinator of the Policing and Social Justice Project at Brooklyn College and the author of The End of Policing.


      Theatre, 2:40 pm

      The theatre production was devised and will be performed by UNIS Theatre students. It is based on interviews conducted by Human Rights Project students with New Yorkers who have experienced segregation and activists working to end segregation. It will also feature a performance by EPIC Theatre.


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