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Dr. Tanya Golash-Boza's book Before Gentrification: The Creation of DC's Racial Wealth Gap explores how redlining, incarceration, anti-blackness, and gentrification have resulted in DC becoming an extremely unequal city. She presented her book followed by a panel discussion at UC Berkeley on Thursday, March 14, 2024.

The panel included Felix Owusu, a Postdoctoral Scholar at UC Berkeley; and Carolina K. Reid (moderator), Professor of Affordable Housing and Urban Policy in the Department of City and Regional Planning.

Tanya Golash-Boza is the Executive Director of the UC Washington Center, and Professor of Sociology at UC Merced.

This event was organized by the Othering & Belonging Institute and co-sponsored by UC Berkeley's Division of Equity & Inclusion.


Hilary Hoynes:
Welcome, everybody. Thank you so much for coming today. By way of thanks, this program is brought to you today, a couple of people asked me out in the hall, who was sponsoring this event? We are here, of course, in the School of Public Health and the program today is brought to you by two faculty clusters at the Othering & Belonging Institute here at Berkeley. My name is Hilary Hoynes, and I'm chair of the Economic Disparities Cluster here at Berkeley at the Othering & Belonging Institute. The event is also co-sponsored by the Health Disparities Faculty Cluster of the Othering & Belonging Institute, as well as also being co-sponsored by Central Campus's Division of Equity and Inclusion. As I said, my name is Hilary Hoynes and I'm a professor of public policy and economics here at Berkeley and the chair of the Economic Disparities Cluster at OBI, the Othering & Belonging Institute.

I want to thank my co-organizers today, Denise Herd, who is back there, who is the associate director of the Othering & Belonging Institute, and Osagie, which he is in the back. Obasogie is the professor of law and public policy and the director and chair of the Diversity and Health Disparities Cluster at the Othering & Belonging Institute. I also want to thank Charlotte O'Keefe, who's in the back, and Maya Richards, in the front, and Mark on the video, who helped us in organizing the event for the Othering & Belonging Institute. Thanks so much, everybody. The plan today is we're going to start out with a presentation by Tanya on her book, and that'll be 25 to 30 minutes or so. Then after that, we're going to have the panel discussion, and as part of that, we'll be taking questions from the audience.

Please, make a note of your question and we'll try to make sure that we bring in those comments for those that have to leave early and then we will be ending at 1:30. I am delighted to introduce our guest and speaker today, Tanya Golash-Boza. Dr. Golash-Boza is a professor of sociology at UC, Merced, and also the founder of the Racism, Capitalism and Law Lab. Although, currently, she is serving as the executive director of the UCDC, UC in Washington DC Center. Her scholarship focuses on understanding systems of oppression and exploitation. She's a prolific scholar having written six books, maybe more, and over 60 articles. The book that we're so grateful to hear about today, Before Gentrification: The Creation of DC's Racial Wealth Gap, explores how redlining, incarceration, anti-blackness and gentrification have resulted in DC becoming an extremely unequal city. I should point out, over here on the table on the right, are copies of said book.

After the talk, we have representatives from Tanya's press, UC Press here, and we will be making the book available. Please, show your interest in the book industry after the talk. Following Tanya's presentation, we are going to have a moderated panel and I'm just delighted to introduce Carolina Reid, who is an associate professor and the Turner Distinguished professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning here at Berkeley. Carolina is going to introduce the rest of the panel and lead a conversation after Tanya completes her initial book remarks. Just as background, Carolina's research is focused on housing and community development with a specific focus on credit, housing, mortgage markets, urban poverty and racial inequality. As you can see, very nicely connected to Tanya's book. With that, let me introduce Tanya and please join me in welcoming her to the podium. Thank you very much.

Tanya Golash-Boza:
Thank you, Hilary, for the generous introduction. Thank you to the staff for making this event possible and thank you to my interlocutors who agreed to read the book and engaged with me. I also appreciate that. Thanks to all of you for coming out. It's great to see you all here and I really appreciate the engagement. This book I've written over the past eight years, very much COVID lockdown baby, so it's nice to have it out there in the world and to engage with folks. I really appreciate it. White people in the United States have on average eight times the wealth of Black people. Wealth is important because it can be used to create opportunities, maintain financial security, and pass along a legacy to the next generation. In the United States, wealth is super important because if you have a medical emergency and you don't have wealth or really good health insurance, you could end up in lifelong debt.

It's very difficult to send your children to a university like Berkeley or any other university if you don't have wealth, unless you want to put your children in lifelong debt. People who study wealth inequality in the United States focus on homeownership, because inequality and home equity accounts for most of the racial wealth gap. White people have more wealth than Black people in large part because they're more likely to own homes and the homes that white people own are more likely to be higher in value. There's a significant racial homeownership gap in the United States. Less than half of Black people own the home where they live, as compared to three quarters of white people. Activists have long fought to narrow the racial homeownership gap because of its relationship to the racial wealth gap. It seems logical that we can narrow the racial wealth gap by promoting Black homeownership, but is this actually true?

I'm going to answer this question today through a discussion of how homeownership has created wealth in white communities, whereas Black communities in Washington DC have been subjected to disinvestment, carceral investment and gentrification. What I'm going to share with you today is based on a larger project focused on Washington DC. I'm not going to go into detail about all of the methods right now, but happy to take questions about the different methods employed during the Q&A. One thing to note is that in today's talk I'm going to discuss four neighborhoods. These neighborhoods were all built with the intention of housing white residents in the early 20th century, but they've all changed in different ways since. Chevy Chase has changed the least. It has stayed primarily white and primarily upper-middle class. Mount Pleasant became integrated but has stayed mostly working in middle class.

Petworth became over 90% Black, yet stayed mostly working in middle class. Anacostia became over 90% Black and mostly low income. These neighborhoods were all developed with the explicit intention of housing white residents, but they've all changed in different ways since they were built. Let's take a look at why white homeownership leads to white wealth. The assumption that homeownership will lead to wealth accumulation is based on the experiences of white homeowners. For white people, homeownership has translated into intergenerational wealth because homes in white neighborhoods have consistently increased in value, and there's a lot of reasons for this. First of all, white people benefited from federally subsidized homeownership programs created in the aftermath of the Great Depression that allowed white people to get favorable terms on their mortgages. Your mortgage rate is super important for building wealth because the higher your mortgage rate, the slower you build wealth.

White neighborhoods featured well-funded schools and school quality is highly correlated with home value. This combination of government funding and community assets have allowed white people's homes to increase in value. Let's take a little bit of a closer look at federally subsidized home loans. Between 1933 and 1978, federal government subsidies enabled over 35 million families in the United States to purchase homes. As a direct consequence of these federal policies, homeownership became the primary vehicle for wealth accumulation. By the early 21st century, 60% of middle-class Americans' assets were in the form of home equity. Basically, if you're a middle-class American today and have any wealth, most of that wealth is probably in the value of your home. These families are now going to pass on trillions of dollars of wealth to their children through this accumulated home equity. The federal policies that encourage homeownership in the 20th century primarily benefited white people.

One example of a federal policy that primarily benefited white people is when the Federal Housing Administration underwrote loans to make it easier for families to secure mortgages. Only 2% of the mortgages underwritten by the Federal Housing Administration between 1945 and 1959 went to Black families. The reason for this is because the Federal Housing Administration specifically designated neighborhoods where Black people lived as high risk for mortgages and refused to underwrite loans in those neighborhoods, and therefore, banks were reluctant to issue loans in neighborhoods where Black people lived. In Washington, DC, redlining, this is called redlining because the maps were colored red in those areas of where Black people lived. Redlining in DC meant that the Federal Housing Administration insured five times as many mortgages in the primarily white suburbs as it did in the majority Black city. Within DC, nearly all FHA-subsidized mortgages went to the upper-northwestern areas of the city, which were nearly all white.

Today, the federal government no longer creates these redlining maps, and there's actually been a lot of interest these days in these redlining maps, but it's interesting to think about these maps. Those maps were created in one year. Each map was created in a different year, but the map of Richmond, maybe created in 1934, the map of Philadelphia, 1938. Redlining was not pegged to that one year. Redlining just means Black people live in the neighborhood, banks don't issue loans. Informal practices of redlining persisted way after that. These neighborhoods up here, the ones in the northern part of the city, they were all greenlined in that map because they were majority white. As they became majority Black, they got redlined. Redlining is a little bit more difficult to measure without those maps because you have to go to every single bank and ask them for data on their loans and then they have to give it to you and then you have to measure it.

There was one study in DC of the Chevy Chase Federal Savings Loan Bank, and they found that between 1976 and 1992, only 3% of the mortgages that they issued in this majority Black city went to African Americans. That's one example of redlining through one bank in DC. Redlining made it difficult for African Americans to secure home loans and thus to build wealth through homeownership. Redlining also meant that when Black people did secure loans, the interest rates would be higher, making it difficult to build home equity. Redlining also meant that Black businesses had difficulty securing loans to build businesses in Black neighborhoods, which means that Black neighborhoods eventually would have fewer amenities than white neighborhoods. In addition to subsidizing home loans in white areas, the government also invested in public amenities in white neighborhoods, including water systems, highways and public schools.

Today, I'm just going to focus on schools just to give you an idea of the disparities. By 1970, 99.1% of black students in Washington, DC, attended schools were nearly all the other children were black, that made Washington DC one of the most segregated school systems in the country. The small number of white students who were enrolled in DC public school, but it was as little as 3% by 1970. They almost all attended schools on the west side of the park. The greatest disparities in schooling were between schools west of the park and those schools east of the Anacostia River, where nearly all students were black and low income. In 1971, there were 18 students per teacher west of the park as compared to 22 in Anacostia. Schools west of the park spent 40% more per pupil than schools in Anacostia. The test scores west of the park were also 2.4 grades higher than the rest of the city.

These disparities led the court to conclude in 1971 that the city needed to remedy these inequities by coming up with a new plan. There were even more salient disparities if we compare the DC public school system to the public schools in the outskirts of the city, like in Fairfax County and in Montgomery County. In 1985, a group of parents issued a report comparing Coolidge High, a majority-Black school in Washington, DC, with two schools in the primarily white suburbs. They found that these schools are spending nearly twice as much per pupil as Coolidge. Despite similar numbers of students, Coolidge had fewer teachers, counselors, athletic teams, and even fewer library books. The budget for athletic coaches was eight times as high at Rockville High than it was at Coolidge. People in white neighborhoods benefited from these federally-subsidized loans, as well as public investments, which in turn increase their home equity and their wealth.

This is because homes don't just reflect the brick and mortar of the structure, they reflect the value of the neighborhood, which is the value of the public and private investments in the neighborhood. What about Black homeowners? Black people also purchased homes during the housing boom of the 20th century. Only one in five Black people lived in homes they owned in 1940. By 1950, one in three did. By 1970, over 40% of Black people lived in homes they owned. There was actually a greater percentage increase in Black homeownership than white homeownership each decade between 1940 and 1970. The number of Black homeowners in Washington, DC, increased six-fold between 1940 and 1970. By 1970, there were nearly 45,000 Black homeowners in DC. Despite this growth in homeownership, wealth inequality in Washington, DC, is simply outrageous. White people have 81 times the wealth of Black people in the Washington metropolitan area.

Let's just take a look at how Black people were able to purchase homes in DC in the 1950s, because there is sometimes a myth that Black people were locked out of homeownership, so let's look at what happened. The main thing that happened to spur Black homeownership in DC were two Supreme court decisions. The first one is Hurd versus Hodge, which declared racially restrictive covenants unenforceable. The second is Bolling v. Sharpe, which is the companion case to Brown v. Board of Education, which declared segregated schools unconstitutional. Up until 1948, most houses north of Park Road in Washington, DC, had racially-restrictive covenants in their deeds. These are contractual agreements that prohibit the sale or rental of properties to Black people. This deed is actually from the house that my parents purchased in 1976. It had a racially-restrictive covenant in the deed.

These covenants are still in the deeds, they're just unenforceable. Researchers at Prologue DC have done a research into the deeds of tens of thousands of homes, and they have found tens of thousands of covenants and petitions in DC. There's two kinds of these restrictive covenants. The first one is an individual covenant in the deed, and the second one is a petition covenant. This is when a group of people from the neighborhood get together and say, let's all sign a petition saying we will not sell homes to Black people. They've marked on this map in red all those individual deed covenants that they've uncovered, and then in blue, all of the petition and covenants that they've uncovered. It's not exhaustive search because they literally have to go into every single deed and read the deed to find the covenants there, so this work is ongoing.

Once these covenants were deemed legally unenforceable, Black people began to purchase homes in all white neighborhoods. One example is Dr. Clarence Hinton. When Dr. Hinton purchased his home at 30th and Farragut Street, Northwest, in 1953, he was the first Black person on his block. Over the next 20 years, Dr. Hinton's block became all Black. White flight happened across the city. The white population of the district decreased by one-third in a generation. White flight also opened up homeownership opportunities for Black people. By 1980, there were over 50,000 Black homeowners in DC. Again, this has not translated into intergenerational wealth. Black homeownership did not lead to Black wealth, and one of the main reasons for this is that homes and Black neighborhoods did not increase in value in the same way that homes and white neighborhoods did. Simply increasing access to homeownership does not diminish the racial wealth gap because neighborhoods where Black people live consistently experience disinvestment, and this is what actually would need to change.

White neighborhoods got federal subsidies and good schools, Black neighborhoods experience disinvestment. Disinvestment is when the public and private sectors stop investing in a neighborhood. Again, like I said, these neighborhoods were all built with a lot of investment. They were built to be these nice neighborhoods for working to middle-class white people, but once Black people moved into them, they slowly experienced disinvestment. This racialized disinvestment is facilitated by segregation. Because when you have white people living on one side of the city and Black people living on another side of the city, that facilitates unequal investment in the neighborhoods. In DC, by the 1980s, nearly every resident of public housing and nearly every child in the public school system was Black. Both of these public goods were greatly disinvested at that time. In the decades after Dr. Hinton moved into his neighborhood, he would watch nearly all of his white neighbors leave.

He would also experience significant declines in the quality of the public schools and the lack of city services. Let's just take a close look at what happened to one school, Roosevelt High School, because this is the school that Dr. Hinton's daughters attended. Roosevelt High was desegregated in 1954 and became a majority-Black school within a few years. Now, Roosevelt High had been an excellent school prior to desegregation, and it actually continued to provide an excellent education after desegregation. When Bonnie Benson, daughter of Ezra Taft Benson, Secretary of Agriculture, enrolled in Roosevelt High in 1955, it was considered a blue-ribbon school, noted for high standards of scholarship and sending large amounts of students to college. When Bonnie Benson went on a trip with her father to the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Asia, she took the school's yearbook with her and proudly showed off the photos of Black and white students playing together.

However, each year that Bonnie attended Roosevelt, more white students left the school. By the time Bonnie was preparing for graduation in 1958, the school had become nearly all Black. It was 80% Black by the time she graduated and became almost 100% Black shortly thereafter. Now, Bonnie probably didn't mention to the international community that when Roosevelt High integrated, they closed the swimming pool and they only opened it about five years ago. As Roosevelt High became majority Black, it continued to offer an excellent education to Black students. Dr. Hinton sent his daughter, Audrey, to Roosevelt High in 1961, and many of Audrey's classmates have done exceedingly well. Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson graduated from Roosevelt in 1964, became the first Black woman to earn a doctorate at MIT. Sharon Pratt became the mayor of DC. Dr. Charlene Drew Jarvis became the president of Southeastern University. By 1992, Roosevelt High ranked nearly last at 16 out of 17 schools in DC for its promotion rate.

One in three children who enrolled in Roosevelt High in the 9th grade of Roosevelt did not graduate high school. In that same year, only 33 of Roosevelt's 915 students took the advanced placement exam and not a single student passed the AP exam. Roosevelt High went from being one of the best schools in the city in the 1960s to one of the worst by the 1980s. Now, schools were offering reflections of their neighborhoods, so what had changed about the neighborhood around Roosevelt? The only thing that really changed about the neighborhood around Roosevelt was the race of the residents. The average income, the percent homeownership, the unemployment rate. The unemployment rate, all of those things only changed according to national trends, or according to citywide trends. The neighborhood was relatively the same economically, but it changed racially. What we saw was a significant decrease in the quality of schooling being offered to middle-class African American families.

As white people were fleeing Washington, DC, Black people were arriving in large numbers. The city's school population grew from 100,000 to 150,000 students between 1954 and 1970. During this time, Congress, which didn't have very much Black representation, was completely in charge of DC's budget. They did not allocate additional funding to the public school system, which surely needed it as it went through a 50% increase in enrollments. Disinvestment meant schools like Coolidge had fewer teachers, counselors, athletic teams, and library books. It also meant that schools suffered structural deficiencies, and these structural deficiencies lasted throughout the 20th century. Some of the people that I interviewed for this book went to Coolidge High School, which is the school just north of Roosevelt, and they described the disinvestment in the school and how that affected them.

One of them is Troy. Troy joined the football team at Coolidge, which kept him busy. However, his coach was struggling with drug addiction and stopped showing up for practice. Troy explained that when he was on the football team, that kept him out of trouble, but the coach's absence was demotivating. Troy explained, "When you're on the football team, by the time you go to practice, you're just trying to go home and go to sleep. There wasn't time to be outside or nothing like that. Once the coach stopped showing up, that fell apart." when Troy found himself with large amounts of free time, after dropping off the football team, he began to sell drugs, which eventually would lead to him spending 10 years behind bars. For Troy and many other youth in the city, this disinvestment in public schools can be directly tied to their eventual incarceration. Troy was just one of many Black male youth in Washington, DC, who became involved in selling crack cocaine.

Crack cocaine stepped in to fill the gaps left wide open as both the public and private sectors abandoned the city. By 1990, in DC, half of all youth were unemployed. By 1997, half of all Black male youth were under the control of the criminal legal system. By 1991, Washington, DC, had the highest homicide rate in the city, and this was not exclusive to low-income Black neighborhoods. This high rate of homicide and drug selling was also happening in these middle-class Black neighborhoods, which were also seeing the ravages, the violence of disinvestment. The city's responses to the problems created by the violence of disinvestment was not to begin to invest in schools and communities in ways that would support them. Instead, the response was to invest in prison and policing in ways that would punish them. In DC and across the country, the local and federal government began a war on drugs that would devastate Black communities for generations. The war on drugs marked a significant shift in budget priorities.

When DC Council Chairman, David Clark, presented his $2.1 billion budget request to Congress in 1984, he opened with these remarks, "The programmatic priorities of our city are the priorities of our citizens. Jobs, housing, education, youth, senior citizen services, programs for people in need of medical and social services and economic development." In 1984, these were the priorities of the city. Crack cocaine arrived later that year. By the end of the 1980s, the economic crisis had only deepened, but the city's focus had shifted firmly away from social services and towards the war on drugs. Crack took center stage in budgetary decisions of the city. Crack became the city's number one priority. In 1989, the city redirected nearly $80 million away from the Department of Public Works, the Department of Housing and Community Development, the Department of Recreation, the Department of Employment Services, and the University of District of Columbia and towards corrections.

The city's $3 billion budget for 1990 included just $20 million for drug treatment, compared to 227 million for correction. These neighborhoods experienced decades of disinvestment, and now when they're finally seeing investment, is coming in the form of carceral investment. Instead of paying for parks and libraries, the city took the path of carceral investment. Instead of addressing the root problems of failing schools in widespread economic precarity, the city focused on the symptom, the spread of crack and its attendant violence. This carceral investment primarily affected Black men In DC, they had an incarceration rate 36 times that of white men. The incarceration rate in DC rose from about 400 people incarcerated per 100,000 residents in 1978, to 1,700 per 100,000 residents in 1994. This was 4.4 times the national rate and the highest incarceration rate in the world. By the 1990s, 4,000 Black men had been murdered, public schools were failing, and the Black middle class was now leaving the city. Disinvestment, followed by Carceral investment gutted Black neighborhoods and set the stage for gentrification.

Let's look at what happened. How did disinvestment and carceral investment make gentrification possible? In 1970, Petworth was a majority-Black community with half of Black families living in homes they owned. Today, the neighborhood is only 50% Black and they're only about 3,000 Black homeowners. Black people who purchased a home in Petworth in the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s or 90s, would not see a return on this investment for decades. The median and value of homes remained steady in Petworth controlling for the rate of inflation. Now, you wouldn't expect to see a really high increase between 1950 and 1980. Beginning in the 1980s, housing began to increase in value rapidly and really became the primary basis for people's wealth, but not in Petworth. The median home value remained steady between 1980 and 2000 in Petworth. There's one thing that caused the value of homes in Petworth to increase, and that was the arrival of white residents into the neighborhood.

Beginning in the early 2000s, white people began to arrive in the neighborhood and the homes began to increase in value. In Petworth, the two-story brick homes built for white people in the early 20th century have become attractive to white buyers once again. The twin forces of gun violence and the prison system took young Black men out of the neighborhood. Today, it has become profitable for investors to purchase devalued homes, abandoned properties, and foreclosed homes to build new homes for new people. This investment, combined with low-housing prices, record-low interest rates and tax incentives made Petworth attractive to investors after decades of abandonment. The real estate company, Redfin, did a report in 2016 that looked at the 10 top neighborhoods where you could make a profit from flipping a home. Petworth was number one on the list with an average value of a home flip of $337,000. There are two other neighborhoods on this list that adjoin Petworth, Brookland and Brightwood. Very similar neighborhoods.

The Hinton's mentioned earlier, they purchased their home in 1953 for about $20,000. They lived in the neighborhood for 45 years before selling it for $230,000. This is not profit once we account for inflation over 45 years. The people who bought it from them sold it in 2019 for $700,000, which is a reasonable rate of inflation, a 20-year profit, more or less. Five months later, the home sold for $1.3 million. These investors made more money on the Hinton home in five months than the Hinton's did in 45 years. When Petworth was primarily Black and experienced disinvestment, this disinvestment works in various ways to depopulate the neighborhood, making an optimal site of reinvestment.

Today, Petworth has become a site of profit once again, but it's also become unaffordable to long-term residents. Decades of disinvestment in Black neighborhoods in DC meant that home values remain stagnant, preventing Black homeowners from accumulating wealth through homeownership. Schools and Black home-owning communities had higher dropout rates and low college enrollment rates, which means that those people that graduated from the high schools in that neighborhood in the 80s and 90s were not set up to build wealth themselves. When we add to this equation the carceral investment that these neighborhoods experience, it becomes clear how and why Black families in Washington, DC, have had difficulty building wealth across generations. Thank you.

Carolina Reid:
Unfortunately, Professor Nuru-Jeter was not able to join us today. She had something that came up, and so she sends her deepest regrets. We're really going to miss her insights, particularly as it relates to health impacts of these trends that we're talking about today. I think it was such a rich book and lots of different avenues for discussion that I'm sure we're going to have no shortage of things to talk about. Dr. Felix Owusu is currently a postdoc scholar here at UC Berkeley. He completed his PhD in public policy at Harvard, and his research focuses on inequality, race and public policy, with a specific lens on the criminal justice system. While earning his doctorate, he was a research fellow at Harvard Law School's Criminal Justice Policy program, and he also worked as a data scientist in DC working to bring transparency to traffic stops with the DC Metropolitan Police Department.

Also, has intimate knowledge of DC as a site for our conversation today. I'm super excited to say that he's going to be joining the Goldman School of Public Policy this fall as an assistant professor. We will be able to benefit from his brilliance for many years to come, which is terrific. I'm going to start, Tanya, with just a question for you because I think your talk did such beautiful job of outlining the main arguments in the book, but you didn't talk that much about methods and also, how this book was really a personal project and you showed the restrictive racial covenant on your parents' home. Can you just talk a little bit about how you approached this book, how it was important to you as a personal project and the fact that it really is ethnography probably more than a data project?

Tanya Golash-Boza:
Yeah, thank you. I'm thinking back to maybe 15 years ago when I was an assistant professor at University of Kansas and I was having brunch with a book editor and he said to me, "If you could write any book you wanted to write, what book would you write?" I thought to myself, oh, that's such a good question. Many of the people that I went to high school with are incarcerated with very long sentences. I was like, but they're going to come home and the city is going to have changed so much. I would love to talk to them about how they're experiencing the changing city, but also, I'd like to think about how we can assess the cost of the war on drugs, the human cost, the human social, cultural costs of the war on drugs on Washington, DC. That was a long time ago, and at the time, I was in the process of writing other books. I just kept in the back of my head.

Then one of my friends came home, actually, he came to my book release in 2015 of my other book, Deported. The thing about him is he is, growing up, I always thought of him as so smart and so, just in other circumstances, he would've taken another route. It was very clear to me and also just how much the city lost by incarcerating these leaders from our community. Anyway, so he came home. The book started out with the idea of talking to people who had been formerly incarcerated and asking them how gentrification affected them, and also thinking through what gentrification means. Because if anyone in DC would tell you like Petworth has gentrified, but people like Dr. Hinton would be like, I am the gentry. He might take issue with that characterization of the neighborhood as having gentrified, because really, it's a big neighborhood, but parts of it certainly were home to upper middle-class African Americans.

Anyway, so that was the question, like how people from different neighborhoods, so people in DC are also really attached to their neighborhood. What does it mean if you come home but you can't move into your neighborhood that you feel like it's not like you just want to go in DC, you want to go to your neighborhood that you're from? That was how I originally approached it. After I had gotten pretty far in the interview process, I was realizing that people, I would ask them, tell me about your life growing up and what did your parents do and how did you end up incarcerated? Through those stories, they would tell me that their parents and grandparents were homeowners. As a sociologist, one of the primary definitions of middle class is a thing that you can measure, but one way you can measure it is by homeownership.

I was just thinking about why are we not talking about homeownership or middle-class people in the war on drugs? Because it's something that's imagined to primarily have affected concentrated poverty, areas of race, racial isolation. Anyway, so that led into me asking this question of how the war on drugs not only is something that produces intergenerational poverty, but something that's produced intergenerational downward mobility. How do you have someone like upper-middle class? Think about this, a guy that I went to high school with, his grandfather purchased three homes in the 1950s. Just imagine the kind of resources it would take to do that, cultural, social, financial resources to do that as a Black man in the 1950s, and then for his grandson to get sentenced to life in prison. Then for me to realize that, that was actually fairly common. Anyways, the book ended up being based in interviews, but then also, ethnography looking at the neighborhoods, and then also, oral histories going back further, and then also, some census data, housing data, what you request.

Carolina Reid:
Thank you so much. I study housing policy, and I think there's a lot of things in your book that are really resonant to housing policy studies and understanding the different dimensions of both things like redlining, then the subprime crisis, gentrification. I think most books that focus on housing policy focus on the housing and the mortgage market aspects of it. One of the things I thought was so remarkable about your book is that you bring that lens of investment, disinvestment and reinvestment and connect it to the criminal legal system, and that's really unique. Felix, I'd love to talk to you and bring you in to the conversation about what role do you see in your research that this criminal legal system plays in disinvestment, in Back communities in particular, and maybe even Black youth.

Felix Owusu:
Yeah, absolutely. Sure, I can definitely talk about that. Just as a little bit of context for everybody, during my PhD training, I also spent two years embedded in Washington DC's local government, working as a data scientist. I spent a lot of time with an interdisciplinary research team out of the office of the city administrator, so sort of central, but they had a fellows model, and I was detailed specifically to the police department. Half the week I would sit at police headquarters and work on various data tasks. One of the main things that I worked on, and the largest project that I worked on was helping to create a process for producing and publicly releasing data on police stops in Washington, DC.

Those are data that had been collected in the past, but there was a law that was passed, the NEAR Act, in 2016, the Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results Act, that wanted to improve the quality of these data, specifically to think about racial disparities and think about all the different types of interactions where people are being detained by law enforcement that could be escalating into these kinds of things, to be able to start to have these conversations about what should we be doing to curtail or think about these things differently. The data are now public. I won't spend too much time belaboring them. Many researchers, people at the ACLU, I think Tanya has actually worked on these data, and you can read her stuff about broken windows, policing and gentrification. I won't belabor the data of it too much.

I think a couple of really important takeaways that I wanted to quickly highlight is number one, that stops and police encounters represent just a massive carceral investment. We're talking something like 80,000 stops a year in a city of less than 800,000 people. There's just a lot of these stops that are happening, and Black district residents are just facing dramatically higher levels of scrutiny from the police, no matter what way you want to think about or slice and dice it. They make up less than half of the district's population, at least in the most recent years where we're looking at the improved data, but they're making up three quarters plus of the stops in a given year. This gets even worse if you focus on what we might think of as the least productive stops, stops where there's no tickets being written, no arrests being made for crimes, not even warnings being written.

If you look at just the stops where nothing happens at all, it's 90% Black people who are being stopped in these kinds of stops. This doesn't even get into things like extensive targeted social media monitoring that particularly impacts Black youth who are supposed to be in these crews based on a lack of due process determination made by law enforcement. I think it's also important to note that this is a story not just about racialized policing, but also spatialized policing. I think that came up a lot in the book. Black areas are policed more and differently than white areas or other areas, and it goes beyond different levels of intensity of things like stops and arrests. Technologies like ShotSpotter, they constantly record audio in certain high-risk areas to alert police to suspected violence. Even in a context where the community wouldn't be calling police to respond to an incident, they can report or they can observe what they determined to be crime through automated technology and deploy folks.

This is something that's being targeted in certain areas. It goes to special police units, like vice squads or I think you mentioned in your book, rapid deployment units, that use particularly aggressive police tactics going around in unmarked cars, doing things that people refer to as jump outs, basically turning out pockets, searching groups of young people who they see out there in ways that many would argue don't have due process. This is still continuing. One of the tasks that I worked on shortly before I left was helping provide data for an investigation on the gun recovery unit. One of the things that people argued is it's essentially the old-school vice squads when there were concerns around drugs with a new coat of paint, with a new name that is more responsive to the current concern of the day, gun violence. They're similar people using the same tactics in the same neighborhoods.

It's trying to almost play a game of whack-a-Mole as a district resident who wants to change their policing, and you, after all the settlements and everything, get one specific unit disbanded, then they're back in a different coat of paint. I think it also includes things like the Annual Summer Crime Initiative, and you hear about this, it's very just neighborhood-based targeted hot-spotting or hotspot policing that happens all summer, every summer in Washington, DC. Just a quote from the police department's website, they find four to six high-crime areas or neighborhoods and will focus all available resources, utilize the latest crime-fighting technology and call upon partner agencies and organizations to assist in a coordinated effort to eliminate violent crime in these areas. It's a full-court press every summer in certain primarily Black neighborhoods within the name of crime reduction.

This is the last thing I'll say, because I know I've talked about a lot of different things here. It also includes things like special collaborations with federal law enforcement, immigration enforcement, and other types of law enforcement agencies in the region that share information, they share resources, and they coordinate to be able to move across jurisdictions and target folks. This came up in the book thinking about these, especially big kingpin raids that are big collaborative efforts that involve the Feds and other folks. This is still going on, I think in less salient or less obvious ways that in DC in particular, the Crime Gun Intelligence Center, the concept of crime guns is an interesting thing that we have a different conversation on. It's a multi-agency collaboration. It connects MPD detectives with law enforcement. In this case, instead of the DEA, it's the ATF, Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms because there's a lot of conversations about gun violence as the concern of the day.

It also has the US Attorney's office, a lot of the usual folks who'd be working on these kinds of things. They do information sharing to try and work on these cases and get more convictions, get people off the streets. To put on my researcher hat, I've been telling you about a lot of things I just experienced. One of the things that I think in terms of carceral investment, we were able to try and assess these investments in some sort of rigorous way. In 2016, MPD received about a million dollars in a grant from the DOJ to dramatically expand the capabilities of this Crime Gun Intelligence Center. This was actually a spatially-targeted grant investment. The funds were used to hire additional detectives and expedite evidence processing, specifically in the seventh district of the Metropolitan Police Department. A fun fact that I learned working with the police department is that the districts that the police use don't line up with the wards that the rest of the government uses.

That's specifically because they don't want council members for specific wards to know which commander is corresponding to their community so that they could reach out to them and be like, hey, we have this issue. They want it to all go through the usual top channels in the comms office. The seventh district is not analogous to any ward, but it is in southeast DC. It's not exactly Ward 8, but it's also not Ward 8, if you're familiar with Washington, DC. It does include Anacostia, one of the neighborhoods that you mentioned here, it's primarily Black area. This was a targeted investment of a million dollars in investigative capacity, specifically on violence in that area. We did an evaluation that's publicly released, you can look at it, and we use the best quantitative tools across a variety of outcomes to figure out what happened. We found across any outcome that we were willing to look at and given the interest in demonstrating some benefit of this investment, we got a lot of data and we looked at a lot of different outcomes.

We weren't able to find any public safety benefits to that million-dollar investment that were being made. If you look at violent crime in general, gun crime, particularly, murder, or even leverage things, like ShotSpotter, if you're worried that, oh, people just aren't reporting these crimes, it had an effect, we just don't know it. There's automated dragnet technology to do full-time audio surveillance to figure out if gun shots are happening less often and we weren't able to pick that up. At least with the tools and the data that we had, the only positive result we were able to report in this study was we did a survey of the people who were in this Crime Gun Intelligence Center, and the detectives themselves reported that they liked it and that they thought it was a good use of money and that it helped them in their investigations.

We were not able to verify that by looking at any of the crime reported, crime observed, whatever outcomes you want to think about in the district. I think that is in terms of trying to think about these investments and what they actually produce, even this conversation around maybe it's worth it if it's addressing some sort of public safety concern. I think we weren't able to verify that story. I think a more important question to ask is not does this have no effect or some effect, which is what our statistical methods allowed us to think about. We weren't able to rule out no effect. We want to be asking, does this perform better than all the other things that we could've spent that million dollars on if we're going to invest it in southeast Washington, DC? I don't think there's any evidence that it would pass that bar. In particular, it has to perform better enough to outweigh all of the negative externalities that you get when you use the criminal legal system.

All the additional arrests that this investment would lead to, all these encounters, these stops, the incarceration that might be coming from these kinds of things and all those sentences. The alternatives don't have those consequences, so it has to beat those alternatives and beat them by enough to account for the fact that it's probably going to be leading to more of these negative things that we know to be harmful. I think that's the true bar that we want to be thinking about in this context. Thinking about these carceral investments and the way that the criminal legal system works, I think it is very targeted both at the individual level. Black people are more likely to be stopped regardless of where they are, but also spatially based on Black areas that are understood to be Black communities and they're treated quite differently. I'm going to stop there, but I think absolutely, this framework was one that I found to be very compelling as somebody who spent some time in DC.

Carolina Reid:
It also makes me think about the extent to which all of this leads to political disenfranchisement too, and the spillover effects of that. I was also thinking, as you were saying, we see the carceral investment leading to gentrification, but I know that particularly in some of the communities here in the Bay Area, this gentrification is also leading for carceral investment, that you start to see these conflicts emerge and hurting people who have been long-time residents of these places. I have a lot more questions and I'm going to come back to them, but I do want to make sure, I think we have one person who has to leave at 1:00. You're all right? You're Good? Okay. I do want to stay on this topic for just a second before I turn back to housing.

Here in the Bay Area, and I think even nationally, after a very exciting and constructive movement towards defunding the police and moving away from carceral investments and thinking about can we do it better? Can we set a better bar for what we're trying to do? We're actually seeing a counter-reaction. San Francisco passed a law a couple of weeks ago, a week ago, saying that anybody now who needs general assistance, needs welfare assistance, needs to be tested for drug use. I was so mortified that, that law passed and it passed with a pretty compelling margin, given all of what we have learned about the war on drugs and its harms and also, this criminalization of poverty. I was thinking maybe both of you could reflect a little bit on this return to or reaction against thinking about alternatives to the criminal legal system. I don't know, Tanya, if you want to go first.

Tanya Golash-Boza:
Sure. I think it's just such an entrenched idea that punishing people or the prospects of punishing people is going to make a safer community. It's a very deeply-entrenched idea. I don't know a lot about what's going on in San Francisco. I'm not surprised. I'm not that surprised, really. I think it's part of this general, like how we view the people that we perceive to commit crimes. Because first of all, everybody commits crimes, but there's a perception that there's these people that commit crimes and they make us feel less safe. The way that I see this playing out in DC, is I've been going to these community safety hearings, DC is in the midst of trying, again, to fight crime.

When you go to the hearings and you listen to people talk about the struggles that they face in the neighborhood, people are feeling this deep sense of insecurity. I couldn't believe it, but I had to see it to believe it. You have heard of all these retail thefts. People are saying the retail theft makes people scared. Then people were literally saying, I'm scared because when I go into CVS, people are stealing things. I'm just like, why does that make you scared? They're not stealing from you. Even still, why does it invoke fear? It really does, and people really have this fear of people that they perceive to be dangerous. What I thought was interesting is, so DC is a very liberal city, and this neighborhood is a very liberal neighborhood.

The woman who was complaining about the kids stealing in CVS was just like, I just want the police to come, but don't put them in jail. I was just like, what do you think the police are going to do? I don't know, it's just a very deeply, deeply-entrenched idea. First of all, that people are dangerous and need to be removed, we need to do something with them, and that policing is the way, and there's no other way that we can imagine. It's really like a lack of imagination, but I think that's our job, is to talk to people and help them imagine and ask these questions. I really like what you said, Felix. It's not really just like, did that million dollars prevent crime, but did it prevent crime better than creating a rec league for basketball, which they don't even have really in Ward 8?

Felix Owusu:
I think I agree a lot with what you've said, and I think there's an element that I also want to bring in about scale. I've talked to folks who have been like, oh, we tried X, Y, Z alternative to law enforcement and it didn't work, and come to find out they spent 0.3% of the law enforcement budget on a pilot program in one neighborhood, and they didn't solve crime that year. I think to have tried an alternative, we have to think, did we try it to the extent that we're trying the status quo? That means massive large-scale investments, until I'm hearing calls for like, we need to have 4,000 social workers and educators and stuff on the street, where I'm hearing calls where we need 4,000 police officers on the street in Washington, DC, who are sworn in patrolling. We're not that same level yet. I think it's really important to think about that. I think that goes to this imagination question where people have that lack of imagination. We do try things, but often, not at scale.

In terms of this backlash that we are seeing, I think there's just a frank conversation around what the criminal legal system is for that needs to be had. I think we often have, and I study policy, I'm going to be teaching policy is what my degree is in, and so I often have this hat on and I'm thinking, how do I analyze incarceration or policing or the criminal legal system as a policy? I'm thinking about the cost, I'm thinking about the benefits, and I'm thinking about does this overall on balance make things better? I'm thinking about the distribution of these things. If you have that hat on, it doesn't make sense, and you'll just be constantly confused. You're like, oh, but all this research shows that putting people in cages makes their lives worse, but we keep doing it. I'm so confused. Because I think for a lot of people, the criminal legal system is not just about producing public safety, and I think we don't name that as often as we should. Punishment is a thing that people think is worth it, even if it makes everyone's life worse.

Those people often have decision-making power. Especially, when you intersect that with fear, you intersect that with racism and the history of the concerted effort that has been made to link Black people with criminalization, with whatever I think the boogeyman of the era is, whether it's being lazy and not working hard enough, or whether it's drug use, or whether it's violence, or whether not being appropriately engaged with the family. There's all these narratives that have come up, and I think there's a concerted effort that's been made to draw these linkages. That when we're thinking about who deserves the benefits of the state versus who deserves the punishment of the state, these things are almost foregone conclusions, and we see it over and over and over again. Not to toot my own horn too much, but there's a chapter that I have coming out in the next Oxford handbook on sentencing that takes on this question of what does punishment look like in racially just and equitable society?

I think we really come down on the side of, me and my co-author, Sandra Smith, come down on the side of, given the history that America really has, you have to have the question whether we can wield state punishment the way that we're doing it at the scale that we're doing in an effective way. Are we capable of doing this? I'm going to start as a faculty member, but I feel like I've been having the same conversation for years, and there's people who've been doing this for much longer than I have. I can tell you that we have very similar conversations over and over and over again. I think that's just a thing that we have to acknowledge. I think some of that is at work. People are annoyed that people are not behaving the way that they want with whatever decorum they expect, and they want to see those people suffer. I think whether it makes us all worse or not, and that's just the real thing.

Carolina Reid:
I want to just first emphasize that this book is about DC, but you really are talking about much broader trends. I think one of the things that I have been struggling with in my own research is the fact that we have made significant advances in reducing discrimination in the mortgage market. Redlining is illegal, we have a lot of efforts that are trying to extend access to homeownership to different populations, populations that have been structurally marginalized for decades. Yet, today, the Black, white homeownership gap is larger than it was before the Fair Housing Act was passed, which outlawed discrimination. I thought for me, your book was really valuable in seeing how we could have both advances in homeownership and yet, still, really be falling short on closing either the racial homeownership gap or the racial wealth gap. You come to this in the end saying that we really need, sorry, I've got my little thing here, we really need to change everything. I think in that change everything, you are saying, we need to change capitalism.

Yet, if we really try that, if we really go that way, we also undermine the ability of people color to become homeowners and build wealth. I think, right now, in one of the projects I'm working on in Boston, there's a lot of Black community leaders who are frustrated that the policies that we are putting forward now are things like community land trusts and cooperatives that are shared equity models, so you don't get to build all the wealth in the home because they are shared and it is community land and it's trying to get away from these concerns over speculation and capitalist investment. Yet, they are saying you are consigning the Black families in this city to not build as much wealth as the white families. I'd like to talk a little bit about how we think about this tension between needing to change everything, but then being in a world where access to homeownership, even if it doesn't close the wealth gap, certainly provides more housing stability than renting, more housing affordability than renting, and certainly, something to pass on in an intergenerational way.

Tanya Golash-Boza:
Yeah, thank you. Then this question comes up all the time. When I speak in DC, people from DC, mostly Black people from DC will say, oh, how can we build wealth? That is a perfectly legitimate question. It's something worth, and that's something that should be dismissed. At the same time, I think when you take a holistic look at the situation, you see that we've built a system where to the extent that people in the United States have any wealth at all, most of that wealth lies in the value of their home. Actually, today, if you're lucky enough to have a 401K, the average value of a 401K at retirement is $200,000. People's ability to retire, I guess I should say, which is the whole point of the Social Security Act when it was passed, is dependent on having a home, having some wealth, which is often going to be the value of the home that people can sell, or sell the home and live off of that.

There's this tremendous insecurity. At the same time, we have really built a racialized system where, so they said that a home is occupied by a Black person and really a neighborhood is occupied by Black people, consistently, those homes are worth less. We have a racialized economic system where wealth really is necessary for survival and wealth is completely unequally distributed. I don't think that's a bug in the system of racial capitalism, I think it's a feature. Yes, I would never be opposed to building a Black coalition program. We have one in DC, we have all the programs in DC, they're just severely underfunded. They wanted to take that million dollars from that program, putting it to the homeownership program. Wouldn't go very far, but still, they could put it there. I think the thing you mentioned about the land trust, so when we decommodify housing, that means we're taking it out of the financial market.

We now have become accustomed to the idea that housing is this financial good, but housing also is a shelter. It's a fundamental human right. That idea that a house is where you live and where you're safe and where you're with your family is another way to think about housing. To the extent that we can decommodify housing by putting it in community land trusts or cooperatives, that provides all of that security. It means that your rent is not going to increase. It means that you can't be evicted. It doesn't mean that you'll pass on wealth. It does have that drawback. The number of Black people who own homes that will then be able to pass on wealth to their children is such a small number. Then they're also going to be the most fortunate. It's not a winning argument in order to be able to do that. I also want to say one thing. Since I'm on a campus, and I know that every single UC campus has lots of fights over housing. I know, I'm sure that-

Hilary Hoynes:
Oh, not here.

Tanya Golash-Boza:
I want to point out that university housing is decommodified housing. To the extent that we can shape the conversation in towns with universities that when we argue for the University of California to build housing for students, staff and faculty, that is decommodified housing. That is housing that is outside of the market. To the extent that the community complains about that, it's trying to help them understand that it actually helps them. There's many reasons why it's so expensive to live in Berkeley, but one of them is the university itself. To the extent that the university can diminish its role by building more housing is probably the only way out of that. Decommodifying housing is not like a pie-in-the-sky dream, we have it, we have student dorms that's decommodified housing, at least the ones that are owned by the university.

Carolina Reid:
Do you want, Owusu?

Felix Owusu:
Yeah. I mean, I think in response, I have a very similar set of beliefs around that. I think just part of it is as a society thinking about why wealth matters so much to people, and I think it's been brought up a couple of times, it gives you autonomy and instability. We got to think about how we decide who gets those things. Right now, we have it as based on whether you can accrue wealth. I think that the lens of racial capitalism that you bring to this is exactly relevant, where it's like me moving to a neighborhood makes it less valuable in the financial sense based on just, it shouldn't be that way, but that appears to be the case. There's a lot of evidence that, that appears to be the case. That is like, we can solve racism, maybe, and then be like, great, now we're good and let's go back, but we still have other problems.

I think unless that's what your plan actually is, like it's a fundamental thing, where even in the most progressive places or whatever, there's this concern and seeing me is a concern for folks. I remember living in Berkeley during my master's program and the house that I lived in, there's a Berkeley couple, self-described hippies. There's the landlords, they were in the back, we're in the front. I saw them regularly, always would say hi, but at night I'd sometimes take out the recycling. At three different times they threatened to call the police on me because I was taking the recycling out and they thought I was an unhoused person going through the recycling to get the 5 cents on the cans, which is also unclear why that would be a problem anyway. I think when we think about housing and want people feel about what they want in their neighborhoods and think that, that's going to be the main determinant of also your stability and autonomy is just like, I don't see a path forward that doesn't ask them hard questions about how we allocate those things.

I think to me, separating autonomy and stability from that as all I've talked about is decommodifying housing, acknowledging that housing is just necessary for human life and we have the capability to provide as much of it as we need, and so we should just have everyone access to clean, safe, comfortable housing. We just could be doing that. Then I think some of the concerns around wealth, if that's a very consistent thing that you can expect that you have, but that also, your kids will have, I think that concern is much less salient. I think that's also beyond that. It means our social safety net, supporting people in things like having their kids go to school, a medical emergency, or even thinking about my industry is being undercut by AI or some other technology change and I need to rescale.

These are all things we can anticipate and know happen to people all over the country, but they're typically catastrophic for folks unless they have this home equity wealth, which we know to be fundamentally something that is going to be undercut with this frame of racial capitalism. We just acknowledge those things and plan for them and do it in a consistent way that has some durability, which is very challenging given our polity, and especially in a place like California where you have these ballot initiatives and things like that. I'm not saying that this would be easy or that this is something that logistically can just happen. I think those are the conversations that we have, or there'll be a talk about the racial wealth gap in 10 years that we can all come back to and I'll be talking about it again.

Carolina Reid:
Or 50 years, or a hundred years.

Felix Owusu:
Or 50 years or, a hundred years, or in that city, in the city.

Carolina Reid:
I'd love to open it up to the audience for some questions. I see some hands up. Would you like to go? Please, also, take a minute just to introduce yourself before you ask your question.

Sharon Kennedy Vickers:
I'm Sharon Kennedy Vickers, visiting from Minnesota. I want to say thank you to the both of you. It's very clear and offered solutions for us to have, to imagine something different. Felix, I've lived the life that you talked about. I served as the CIO for the city of St. Paul during the pandemic and after the murder of George Floyd. I was also, I recall working with the city attorney to force our police chief to turn over the police stop data to the ACLU. I would say I spent the majority of my time trying to prevent the police department from purchasing technology tools that was basically digital racial profiling.

Felix Owusu:

Sharon Kennedy Vickers:
One of the reasons why I left that role, because I just didn't feel like that was a good use of my time to be battling with police. My question is, you're a data scientist, I led a team, a data scientist and still lead a team of data scientists. How can we take the data, the research that you have, and visualize it in ways in which can be put into the hands of decision makers, policy makers, that will allow them to utilize the public resources in ways that yield a greater impact, social impact for the residents of that city? What are ways that we can use data and technology for positive social impact?

Felix Owusu:
Yeah, absolutely. I think that's a big part of what I try and think about and do with my career. One thing that has always been my guide is I try to find places that are already in a process of organizing and activity around trying to improve their outcomes, and then make myself useful as an asset and contribute to that. I think it's very rarely the case that I can show up and be like, oh, no one was talking about this, but let me show you these data. Then suddenly, people are going to be engaged and start to do stuff, even if the need is massive. I will admit that not every place is for various reasons, going to have a community in that process or that's big enough to be something that I can pick up or find. Those are often the highest-need places where they're not able to do that.

I'm not going to say that this is something that is the only way of going forward, but I think especially when we're thinking about data, which is one of the pieces of the puzzle, but not the only thing that we could be doing. I think those places often need earlier things or maybe even to begin a process of data collection before someone like me could come in and particularly be useful. I will always say that I just look for communities that are already in the process of trying to improve their outcomes and then figure out how I can help. Usually, people are really excited, because they're like, oh, we had all these questions, or we got a trove of data through a FOIA request or whatever, and now we can make some sense of it.

That's just what I do. At DC, like I had mentioned, they were looking for a data scientist because they wanted to stop data and no one at the police department was prepared to make that or put it together in a consistent and high-quality way. They had this interest in understanding like, what's the consequences of all this investment in the criminal legal system? Are our body cameras making things better? These are all the things that these people study. I came in after there was a very active community. Similarly, in Massachusetts, I've done work on racial disparities in the courts there. There was in particular, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was like, "I personally care about this and have been in community with others who have a little bit less power than me, but who have been organizing the community."

That person was able to open tons of doors, data use agreements that I never would've been able to get, but for the fact that there was already a conversation and a nexus of interest there. It can start at the grassroots level. It can be finding somebody who has some power and is interested, but I think just finding a way to plug in first is what I always do. Then I think credibility is also the other thing, I think. I don't think that's a good concern, but I always try and go above and beyond. You'll find that pre-analysis plans for the research that I do and all these kinds of things because people are going to very much try and undercut or question or find alternate explanations for you and combat your methods or whatever because they don't like these stories, people get defensive. This is pretty standard, but being beyond reproach and even beyond misunderstanding or intentional misinterpretation is part of it as well.

Carolina Reid:
Thank you. It also makes me think about all the different ways that research really does move the needle in ways to change everything. I think about all the universal basic income pilots, and it's actually part of the policy conversation now in a way that it wasn't 10 years ago. I think we have to continue to be hopeful that this evidence can move policy forward when we have the right political moment. Rucker, did you have a question?

Rucker Johnson:
Yeah. I'm not Amani, but I would imagine Amani would've raised this in her discussion, which is that when we see the, like in conversation with the point you raised about San Francisco drug testing, when we determined and identified the opioid epidemic as hugely impactful and that something needed to be done, we rolled out all of the public health as the intervention point. We didn't make it a carceral investment. We explicitly made it up, public health emergency. We said fentanyl, we said all of these things, it has the same frame, it's all of the drug addiction that it was in the late 80s that you described in the book. Thank you, Tanya, by the way, for the book and for this opportunity of engaged discussion. I think the racial composition of who is affected changes the frame of what we think the proper policy tools need to intervene. I think only also that all of the things we see here are also things that underscore the importance of long-term investments being evaluated on long-term outcomes, not the short run.

A lot of the things that you see are actually generational impacts, multi-generational impacts, but the focus is very myopic on this short run, after the fact remediation that really is a lack of preventive investments in the school-age years. In pre-K. Even when say Hilary's big points to Congress when she was on the safety net, was we focus on the safety net evaluations based on how it's affecting re-employment rates, not thinking of it as an investment in kids. Similarly, here, the book is framed with how do we think about long-term opportunity gaps and what they manifest when we don't have them. That's what I really see here in these two racialized structures of disinvestment and intentional opportunity investment. I think until we connect the investments with the long-term outcomes in a compelling way, I do think it will undermine our ability to do the structural reforms that have an explicit race-conscious remedy. Anyways, that's long-winded, but it's all to say thank you for the conversation.

Carolina Reid:
It's super thoughtful. I just want to give another example that I think speaks directly to Tanya's book and some of the arguments in her book is when we got the COVID pandemic, the federal government decided to automatically give any mortgage holder forbearance. Automatically, if you were in mortgage distress, you were able to get a forbearance on your mortgage payments and the bank was not allowed to foreclose on you. In the foreclosure crisis, we did not even try load modifications until after the majority of Hispanic and Black people had lost their homes. It was only when foreclosures started to emerge among white non-Hispanic because of the economic recession that the federal government intervened with HAMP, which was a modification program and a refinance program, and they missed a lot of those Black homeowners. Exactly to your point, who is affected really often tempers our response in ways that further and deepens racial divides. I saw a question in the back there. Could you please introduce yourself when you ask?

Marc Joffe:
My name is Marc Joffe, I'm a municipal finance researcher. I was published twice by Othering & Belonging in 2017, so that's how I got on your list, and this is very interesting. Tanya, I wonder how you would deal with this potential objection. I looked at school funding per student by state and by DC, and DC's school funding for a pupil is way higher than any state. Does that potentially refute the disinvestment narrative that you're providing?

Tanya Golash-Boza:
You're saying today it is?

Marc Joffe:
Today, and I think that's based on 2018 figures. I think it's been something that has been the case for several years, if not decades.

Tanya Golash-Boza:
I think DC is hard to compare to other localities because it's the DC city school system. When you compare it to Montgomery County school system, for example, it's not a one-to-one comparison. I'm not familiar with the data today on how schools are funded, but I can tell you that what's happening in DC today is that most of the schools east of the park are severely under-involved, and majority Black or Latinx. I could easily see how there's a very high per-pupil expenditure when you have a school like Roosevelt, which had over a thousand students in the 1970s, and today, maybe has 400. It's actually very interesting what's going on in DC. There is a school on the west side of the park where I went to school, today, it's called Jackson-Reed, because they changed the name from Woodrow Wilson. That school is bursting at the seams. I think it has 2,500 students, but it's the only fully-enrolled, over-enrolled public high school in the city.

What they just did is they built another public high school west of the park, because the school is east of the park, which those neighborhoods are now integrated, they used to be majority Black. The schools are super under enrolled. I think that's probably what's explaining the per people investment, but it's also just a very interesting way of thinking about the consequences of gentrification. In the neighborhood where my parents live and where I grew up, there's three elementary schools within walking distance of my parents' home. Just like five blocks north is Brightwood Elementary School, and last time I checked, it was over 95% Black and Latinx. Five blocks east is Truesdell Elementary School, which again, over 95% Black and Latinx. The neighborhood around it is like 50% white.

There's another school, it used to be called West, just got renamed John R. Lewis. That also used to be 95% Black and Latinx, and now is like 25% white. I think what's going to happen to that school is it's going to flip, it's going to become majority white.

That's also, I don't know if this is related, but it's also a newly renovated school. I suspect that school will become majority white and over enrolled. The racialized disparities are still definitely there. I think if you want to understand racial inequality at the city level, you really have to take a close look in and see. I can definitely tell you that the schools in DC, the public school and the charter school system in DC are very much underserving or misserving many, many Black students today, regardless of where people spending allotments might be.

Felix Owusu:

Carolina Reid:
All right.

Felix Owusu:
Gets engaged in the conversation, so we're out of time.

Carolina Reid:
Yeah, I know. We are at time. Please, join me in thanking our two just terrific panelists, Dr. Tanya Golash-Boza for her book, Dr. Felix Owusu for just amazing work, and so excited that you're here. Please, I think you guys are probably here for a couple of minutes. Please, feel free to come up and ask your questions. A huge thank you to Hilary and Othering & Belonging Institute for sponsoring this event. Really, a great, rich discussion, so thank you so much.

Tanya Golash-Boza: