NEW YORK CITY IS THE THIRD MOST SEGREGATED CITY FOR BLACKS IN THE U.S. AND THE SECOND MOST SEGREGATED CITY FOR ASIAN AMERICANS AND LATINOS.
This segregation is not by accident. It is the result of unconstitutional policies pursued in the twentieth century by government officials. As Richard Rothstein writes in The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, “We have created a caste system in this country, with African Americans kept exploited and geographically separate by racially explicit government policies. Although most of these policies are now off the books, they have never been remedied and their effects endure.”
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 and opportunities have led to vast disparities in health, housing, education, exposure to pollution, violence and experiences with the criminal justice system across different zip codes in New York City.
SEGREGATED BY DESIGN
"Segregated by Design” is an exhibit and online photojournalism project that challenges us to confront the ongoing existence and legacy of segregation across different zip codes is New York City. It makes clear how living in certain zip codes expands opportunity while living in others diminishes it. It also lifts up the work of those working to end segregation and remedy its consequences.
The project was created by students from New York City high schools who took part in the 2019 UNIS Human Rights Project and builds on the work of 2017 and 2018 participants who studied disparities in health, housing, and the criminal justice system.
The topic was inspired by The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by by Richard Rothstein. The 2019 program was made possible thanks to a generous grant from Teaching Tolerance.
UNIS Human Rights Project 2019
"Segregated by Design" at Photoville 2019