Video: "The Roots of Structural Racism" Segregation Project Launch Event

Video

June 22, 2021

On Tuesday, June 22 we hosted a half-day forum with fair housing advocates and leading race and housing scholars from across the United States for the unveiling of "The Roots of Structural Racism," our groundbreaking new project which details just how widespread and harmful racial residential segregation remains today, why it matters, who it impacts, and what can be done to reverse this dangerous trend and promote integration. More than half a century has passed since the enactment of the 1968 Fair Housing Act which officially outlawed discrimination in housing, a key victory of the Civil Rights Movement. But new research set to be released during this event shows that in far too many cities, segregation has in fact increased, with deeply consequential impacts in terms of people's physical and mental health, access to well-performing schools, job opportunities, exposure to violent police, and overall life outcomes.

Speakers at this event included:

  • Richard Rothstein, author of the best-seller The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America
  • Lisa Rice, president and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance
  • Demetria McCain, fair housing advocate and president of the Inclusive Communities Project
  • Margery Turner, expert on urban policy and neighborhood issues and fellow at the Urban Institute
  • Ajmel Quereshi, Senior Counsel at the Legal Defense Fund; john a. powell, OBI director and housing expert
  • Stephen Menendian, OBI assistant director who led the Roots of Structural Racism project
  • Samir Gambhir, director of OBI's Equity Metrics program, and co-author of The Roots of Structural Racism project.

This event was organized by the Othering & Belonging Institute and co-sponsored by the National Fair Housing Alliance, the Inclusive Communities Project, Race Forward, the Poverty & Race Research Action Council (PRRAC), California Housing Partnership, the Urban Displacement Project, Fair Housing Advocates of Northern CA, the National Housing Law Project, the Anti-Discrimination Center, the Thurgood Marshall Institute at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Berkeley Geography, African American Studies at UC Berkeley, and the Terner Center for Housing Innovation.

 

Event Transcript

Marc Abizeid:

All right. Looks like we're getting started. Hello everyone. Sorry. We're a couple of minutes late. We had just a couple of issues in the background. I want to welcome everyone. My name is Marc Abizeid. I work here at the Othering & Belonging Institute with my colleagues, Stephen Menendian and Samir Gambhir, and we're super excited today to launch our groundbreaking national segregation project. This project includes a powerful new mapping tool, which is one of the most comprehensive efforts ever to investigate the persistence of racial residential segregation in the United States. So as we'll discuss, this project has led to some startling, even disturbing findings about ongoing racial segregation in the United States, but it also offers tools that advocates can use to reverse this trend. So let me introduce Stephen Menendian and Samir Gambhir, who led the effort to launch this project.

Marc Abizeid:

Stephen is the Othering & Belonging Institute's, assistant director. He's written extensively on the patterns and impacts of racial residential segregation in the United States. Samir is our equity metrics program director and the technical expertise who helped bring this project to life. I also just want to acknowledge the project's third author, Arthur Gailes, who's, unfortunately, unable to join us today. So just a quick thing about our format. This Q&A session is going to last probably about 20 minutes, followed by two additional panels later in the day. And those panels include some serious heavyweights in the arena of fair housing, and civil rights. So we'll hear from them about why segregation still matters today and what we can do about it.

Marc Abizeid:

We have the full agenda on our website, and you can go to that just by going to belonging.berkeley.edu. And it will be the first thing or maybe the second thing you'll see on our homepage. Also, if you're tuning in from YouTube and Facebook, please be sure to type in your questions in the little chatbox. And if we have time at the end of this first panel, we'll try and get to some of them, but definitely, we'll get to some of them in the second and third panels. So let's just get started. Stephen and Samir, thank you so much for joining. Let me first ask Stephen, what led you to this work? And why did you decide to look into housing segregation in the first place?

Stephen Menendian:

Thank you, Marc. It's great to be here with you and Samir and Nicole and our other interpreters. We had a little bit of technical difficulties getting started because our original moderator's audio went kaput, and then computer went down. So thank you, Marc, for stepping in at the last minute. I was reflecting this morning that Samir and I, we've been colleagues for so long. Haven't we, Samir?

Samir Gambhir:

Sure.

Stephen Menendian:

And Samir and I were both hired at the Kirwan Institute, around the same time by john powell in 2005 and actually Samir, I believe you started the week Katrina hit New Orleans.

Samir Gambhir:

That's correct.

Stephen Menendian:

As I look back on the work, we've done over the preceding decades. Katrina is one of the most important events I think of this century. And I think it was the first event really that Joe Biden likes to use the term the blinders fell off, that the blinders really fell off on race, where we began to see that what was happening with racial inequality in the United States was far beyond the way in which we had previously understood it. That is why were African-Americans disproportionately impacted by Katrina? And the answer we came to was really that it was partly segregation.

Stephen Menendian:

It was why African-Americans disproportionately living in the Lower Ninth Ward on the flood plain, in the damage of flooding in the path of the destruction by Katrina. And you may remember Kanye West had this really famous saying that George Bush doesn't care about black people as the images of people were behind him, right during the telethon. And I think there was a contrast. There was a moment, a really important moment, where Kanye was articulating the interpersonal conception of racism in a context in which structural racism was fully manifesting itself.

Stephen Menendian:

And so I think our work, Samir and I have worked in the rest of that decade, we worked with school districts, we developed student assignment policies. We worked on disciplinary policies and rolling back zero-tolerance punishments on curriculum and teacher recruitment and retention. And we did everything we could. We ended up working on affirmative action cases, filing Amicus briefs in the Supreme court in the two Fischer cases. But in every one of those instances, the Texas 10% plan for those of you who aren't familiar with it. What it does is it essentially promotes diversity in the University of Texas at Austin because of underlying segregated housing patterns. That is to say, it takes the top 10% roughly of graduating seniors from each public high school and automatically mixed them to UT Austin. But the reason that promotes diversity is because of the underlying patterns of racial, residential segregation.

Stephen Menendian:

So everything we're looking at--health, the criminal justice system--john ended up hiring Michelle Alexander around 2008, 2009. And she was working on her book. Every issue we were looking at was undergirded, and then COVID pandemic. What were the neighborhoods that were first hit hardest by this pandemic? In California, it was very clear that Hispanic community was hit hard around the rest of the country in the first wave. It was usually black neighborhoods. In New Orleans and Chicago, and elsewhere. All of this is undergirded by racial, residential segregation. You can't make sense of why some communities are harassed, surveilled, aggressively policed without actually looking at where people live because where people live determines essentially every aspect of their life.

Stephen Menendian:

There was a story in the Washington Post last week about the mortality rates from COVID being a product of segregated hospitals. The hospitals that people have access to are close to where they live, and it wasn't that the care was worse in those hospitals. It was the conditions. It was the funding levels. It was these instruments and so on. So we just kind of fell into this. Samir, we were working on other issues and realize this is really the core issue.

Marc Abizeid:

So Samir, could you tell us a little bit about the findings that you discovered during the course of this project and the report and what you found most surprising about them?

Samir Gambhir:

Sure. So as Stephen mentioned, racial, residential segregation is and has been a mechanism to exacerbate racial inequality. In our analysis in this project has been illuminating, and we've laid out our key findings in the web report, but I'll try and summarize those in three categories. One, we looked at the trends in segregation, number two, analyzing the harms of segregation and looking at the relationship between political polarization and redlining. Our analysis, when we look at the trends, our analysis reveals that more than 80% of our metros in the nation are highly segregated as of 2019 than they were in 1990. In the same time period, the diversity has grown, but unfortunately, that diversity has not translated into integration. Additionally, Rust Belt cities of the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic, such as Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, these feature as the top 10 most segregated cities in the nation. Not surprising Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions also turn out to be really highly segregated.

Samir Gambhir:

On the analysis side, we see that neighborhood poverty in segregated communities of color is three times higher than in segregated white neighborhoods. Additionally, black and Latino kids raised in integrated communities they earn more than those raised in segregated communities of color highlighting that racial residential segregation is a structural problem. Not surprisingly, median household income, home values, and homeownership rates in segregated white communities is much higher than segregated communities of color. Likewise when you look at the relationship between segregation and political polarization, we see that higher levels of segregation correlate with higher levels of political polarization. The relationship is not causal, but this can lead to political gerrymandering.

Samir Gambhir:

Additionally, we see that more than 80% of our neighborhoods, which were redlined around the 1930s by the federal mortgage policy, turned out to be highly segregated using our 2010 data. So all these are some of the highlights of the findings that we have in this report, but there'll be more. I'll request people to dig into the report and see more. To your question on what are the surprising findings is, the most surprising finding is that the racial residential segregation is still really pervasive. We applied our functional integration measure and the segregation measure to 213 largest cities in the nation. And you'll be surprised to know that only two cities showed up as integrated. This clearly shows that the racial residential segregation is really deep-rooted.

Marc Abizeid:

Thank you, Samir. We only have a few minutes left. Stephen, maybe you can tell us a little bit about this web mapping tool and how you think researchers or housing justice advocates can use it in their work. And what's so special about it. What's different about it from other maps?

Stephen Menendian:

Well, this project is so multifaceted. There's so many interesting components. We have kind of a lit review of local histories of segregation. We have the city snapshots of places we want to highlight. We've got the report and components, but the interactive mapping tool is really the centerpiece of this project to try and illuminate the actual extent of segregation. Unfortunately, over the last 24 hours, because of the media attention, our map crashed last night, and it's been a little buggy this morning, so don't rush to it. Just give it a few days for us to figure that out. But we actually did, for a media briefing last week, we have a small clip I'd like to show. Before that, let me just explain a little bit about what it is. So you're going to be able to use this map to see racial composition, to see the level of segregation and the types of segregation.

Stephen Menendian:

And you can go back and forward in time. So Marc? This is our mapping tool to really show how segregation is occurring across the United States. And let me do a little bit of a zoom-in here. The default map layer actually it divides the country into three areas, highly segregated, low to medium segregation, and racially integrated. And I think what you can really see here is that United States continues to be a place of segregation, not integration. And we can tell exactly how we define that in a bit. We've done so much with this project. We've taken the digitized hook, redlining layers from the 1930s, and we put them into this map. We have the segregation stories from some of the most segregated and most integrated places in the country. We have the ability to change the year over time.

Stephen Menendian:

So you can see the change in the level of segregation, and for housing advocates and experts, you can actually choose between one of basically 35 different measures of segregation. So let me just show you a little bit of an example of how this can work. So let me go into some census tracks. Actually, I'll do the address search, take us into Oakland, Bay Area, which is one of the most diverse regions of the country. Oakland, in fact, it's almost one of the most diverse places in the world, just so you can see how segregated it really is. So this is the Bay Area, the core of the Bay Area. This is East Oakland. These census tracts right here are in the 94th percentile, most segregated. You can see here. It actually gives you our divergence index score. And for each track, you can see the racial composition.

Stephen Menendian:

You can do this, by the way, for anywhere in the country, you can see exactly how segregated it is. You can see the racial composition. You can actually see the change over time. We've also done some interesting disaggregation. You can change the geography from the city to the tract, the Metro area here. I think what you might also be interested in is seeing we changed the measure back to our default. There's a lot here. We've actually disaggregated here between highly segregated, white neighborhoods and highly segregated communities of color, which this more detailed view allows you to see.

Stephen Menendian:

So these neighborhoods up here in Contra Costa County and the suburbs of Oakland, and up here in Marin, these are exclusionary white enclaves. They have the most significant investments in wealth and resources. And these are places where opportunity can culminate. And these are places where many, many kids of color are excluded people of color. So you have lots of Latino, black, and Asian communities and this corridor. And then these are where white people live. So this mapping tool allows us to see segregation in a much more detailed way than it's ever been done before.

Marc Abizeid:

You want to elaborate any more on that map, Stephen?

Stephen Menendian:

Well, we have, I think, high hopes that ordinary people will use the map and find their homes and look at their communities and see how they've changed over time. We hope that fair housing advocates can use it to sort of plug in the numbers. If fair housing advocates or affordable housing advocates are trying to look to see whether a proposed affordable housing development will promote integration or promote segregation. We want people to be able to use the tool without having to hire an expensive $500 an hour expert to get that data. So we are trying to make this publicly accessible so that people have this data and information at their fingertips. I think very useful for journalists as we've seen, we had. I think it was some 50 different stories written about it yesterday and policymakers who want to better understand this issue. And we're going to have some folks in the next few panels who are going to talk about this problem of persistent racial, residential segregation and how it affects these other arenas of life.

Marc Abizeid:

The last question I have for you guys is, talk a little bit about this core of the problem that you see is segregation. It's not necessarily just one of being able to equalize resources. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Stephen Menendian:

It's interesting doing all these interviews the last few days. One of the questions that comes up is what do we mean by segregation? When you say segregation, a lot of people think of Jim Crow type segregation, where you think of public accommodations, you think of separate seating on buses and trains or in restaurants and theaters or pupil assignment in schools. Students by law being sent to black schools or white schools in the Jim Crow's style. When we're talking about segregation, we're talking about something that's quite different. In the 20th century, there was an evolution, especially as during The Great Migration, as African-Americans moved West to the shipyards and war mobilization factories of the North, the steel factories of Pittsburgh, and the car factories of Detroit and out West the rest of the country segregated. But we didn't segregate in a Jim Crow style. We are segregated by where people live.

Stephen Menendian:

African-Americans were only permitted to move into a small number of tightly bound neighborhoods. And those are places that we know in the Bay Area, it's a Hunter's Point. East Oakland, East Palo Alto. And so where people live shapes everything, right, shapes their access to opportunity. But the kind of segregation we live with in the 21st century has evolved yet again. It's no longer about a small number of tightly defined neighborhoods. It's now about a regional pattern. Places like Ferguson, the 1970 were mostly white, today are predominantly black.

Stephen Menendian:

And so we need to be sensitive to the evolution from public accommodation segregation to residential segregation, which by the way, by 1940 was firmly entrenched around the whole country to this new form of segregation, which is really about the municipality you live in, the tax base, the quality of public services, the environment. You live in a place that has healthy and safe drinking water or a place like Flint that can't afford to upkeep the infrastructure or is put under state receivership, like Detroit or Newark that's crumbling schools or mold in the schools. One of the things that I did a lot of work on in the arts was looking at water access, and it's become important again today. So all of these things are really the core of what we mean by systemic and structured racial inequality in the United States.

Marc Abizeid:

We actually have an interesting question from the audience. Let me just put it up on screen and get your thoughts on it. How can school districts use the interactive map to generated policies that create equitable learning conditions?

Stephen Menendian:

One of the things that's unique about our map is it's looking at where people live rather than the schools they attend. But we know that when we talk about segregation, it's mostly in the context of schools because look in New York City, New York City is 75% African-American and Latino students. And it's 70% students on free and reduced lunch. It's one of the largest school districts in the country. It's highly segregated. So in the context of schools, that's the area in which we actually recognize that segregation is harmful, but we don't really talk about it nearly as much in the context of housing. So this map is unique in that we're actually displaying free of charge to the public and hopefully a user-friendly way, the ability to look at segregation and racial composition by housing. There are already plenty of excellent maps for how for school segregation.

Stephen Menendian:

In fact, there are three that I can think of. One is created by Sean Riordan on Stanford. I forget the exact name of it. I think it might be at Build, and there's also another one that Vox created. And a third one, I can't remember the source, but I can dig it up, and we can post a link to it somewhere where you can actually search for a school district and search for a school. And you can actually see to what extent does the surrounding neighborhood create segregation in the school? Or to what extent is your school segregated? And it also includes test scores. So you can see how different racial groups disaggregated by gender as well are performing in those schools. So there are excellent mapping tools for school researchers or people who are working with school districts to help improve and create more equitable learning outcomes. We didn't want to duplicate that. We're trying to supplement that. I would direct your attention to those other mapping tools.

Marc Abizeid:

Here's really quick one, I can't remember if you went over this or not, but Xochitl wants to know if the map shows change over time.

Stephen Menendian:

Definitely, as we showed in the video, very briefly, you can actually toggle from 1980 to 2019. So we have all the decennial census data there, and you can actually observe the change over time that the DC article that covered us yesterday in the media section did a phenomenal job showing change in DC over time. Samir, do you want to add anything before we wrap?

Samir Gambhir:

Well, I just wanted to say that we have also curated a number of stories, segregation/integration stories that are embedded in the map. So those are also very interesting, and we have some histories as well. So if our users can dig into that, that'd be a good resource as well.

Marc Abizeid:

All right, great. So it looks like we're running out of time on this panel. We have a ton of more programming scheduled for the rest of the day. Stephen and Samir, thank you so much for presenting the project. I'm sure there's tons of housing researchers, advocates, and journalists out there who are going to make really good use of this project. And if anyone wants to get in touch with us, please email us at belonging@berkeley.edu. And so right now me and Samir are going to head out. We're going to put a little two-minute intermission card, and then Stephen is going to be back moderating the next two panels that are going to come up in just a couple of minutes. So thank you, everyone. And we'll see you soon.

Samir Gambhir:

Thank you everyone.

Stephen Menendian:

Welcome back, everyone. I am thrilled to be here with everyone. I'm going to introduce our phenomenal panelists here. So starting from below me on the other screen is Richard Rothstein, who is the senior fellow at the Othering & Belonging Institute, and a Distinguished Fellow of the Economic Policy Institute, where he works on policy and procedures regarding race and education, and a senior fellow emeritus at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. He's perhaps best known as the author of the 2017 bestseller, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, which recovers a forgotten history of how federal, state, and local policy explicitly segregated metropolitan areas, nationwide creating racially homogeneous neighborhoods and patterns that violate the constitution and require remediation.

Stephen Menendian:

Next, we have Margery Turner, who is a fellow at the Urban Institute and a nationally recognized expert on urban policy and neighborhood issues. She's analyzed issues of residential location, racial and ethnic discrimination, and its contribution to neighborhood segregation and inequality, and the role of housing policies in promoting residential mobility and location choice. She's also the author of the book Public Housing and the Legacy of Segregation. Marge previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Research at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD, from 1993 through 1996, focusing HUD's research agenda on the problem of racial discrimination, concentrated poverty, and economic opportunity in Americans metropolitan areas.

Stephen Menendian:

And we have my boss, john powell here, who is the director of the Othering & Belonging Institute and a Professor of Law and African-American Studies and Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley. He is an internationally recognized expert in the area of civil rights, civil liberties, structural racism, housing, poverty, and democracy. He is the author of several books, including his most recent Racing to Justice: Transforming Our Conceptions of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society. And he was the lead expert witness in the landmark case of Thompson vs. HUD and the co-creator of the opportunity mapping framework. Welcome, everyone. So I'd like to start with a simple question. Deceptively simple: Does racial residential segregation matter today, and if so, why? Marge, why don't we have you kick us off?

Margery Turner:

Sure. Thanks. Thanks. And I just want to start by congratulating your whole team on this terrific product, huge sprawling and incredibly valuable product. And I see it as so important because I really share your view that our history of residential segregation in the US and the persistence of residential segregation across the whole country. It's produced a system of neighborhoods that are not only separate but structurally unequal in terms of schools, in terms of health, in terms of access to food, parks, and recreation, environmental quality access to jobs, and policing practices.

Margery Turner:

And so those neighborhood disparities are driving inequity in absolutely every other dimension of our lives, safety, health, education, employment, wealth building. They're undermining people's quality of life day-to-day. They're blocking people's access to upward mobility and opportunities for success and progress. And I think they are passing harms from one generation to the next. So this is fundamentally important to equity in our country and the future of our country.

Stephen Menendian:

Thank you. Richard?

Richard Rothstein:

I second everything that Margery just described. Perhaps I can just give a little bit of specific illustration and the framework that she just presented. Let's talk about education for a minute. As you know, we have a big achievement gap in this country between black students and white students. On average, African-American students achieve at much lower levels than white students do. And the primary reason they do so is because they are concentrated in neighborhoods of severe social and economic disadvantage. And then their schools are overwhelmed by the problems that they bring to school. And they're unable to give them the kind of instruction that they deserve. And they're unable to take advantage of that instruction.

Richard Rothstein:

So, for example, as you probably know, in many of the highly segregated neighborhoods that you've described in this mapping exercise, African-American children have asthma as much as four times the rate of middle-class children. And if a child has asthma, that child is more likely than the child who does not to be up at night wheezing and then come to school drowsy the next day. And if you have two groups of children who are identical in every respect, except one group has a higher rate of asthma than the other, that group is going to have lower average achievement by a very small amount because it's drowsier.

Richard Rothstein:

Well, asthma is not the only condition that is disproportionately present in segregated neighborhoods. Lead poisoning, lead poisoning has a measurable impact on IQ, and lead poisoning is a much more prevalent in black urban neighborhoods because there are more ancient pipes, lead line pipes that are bringing water to people's homes, more flaking paint from homes that were painted up prior to the abolition of lead-based paint, homelessness, much more prevalent in low income segregated neighborhoods, economic insecurity. You begin to add all of these up, and you pretty much explained the achievement gap, and then when you concentrate children in schools where every child has one or more of these conditions, it's impossible for a school with that kind of concentration and disadvantage to give the attention to instruction that it would in a school with children who came well rested, healthy, well-nourished from economically secure homes.

Richard Rothstein:

So that's just one illustration of how segregation creates the enormous educational problems that we have. I'll give you one other, and I'll stop up. Margery mentioned health. Well, African-Americans, as you know, have shorter life expectancies on average than whites, greater rates of cardiovascular disease. That's partly attributable to the fact that they live in low-income, segregated neighborhoods. More diesel trucks driving through more trucks, driving through their neighborhood, polluting the air, more stress, less access to grocery stores that sell fresh food. If we didn't have such segregation and such concentration of disadvantage and the hostile environmental conditions, the African-American life expectancy and cardiovascular rates should not be as much different from whites as they are today. So those are just two examples that illustrate what Margery so eloquently described.

Stephen Menendian:

Thanks. john?

john a. powell:

Thanks for the question. I add to Marjery's congratulations to the team and Stephen for pulling this together, and it's great to be with Margery and Richard. So the short answer is it's extremely important as this report documents. Segregation is a way in which we distribute opportunity. Oftentimes, we think of segregation, we think of it in racial terms or even religious terms. So it's like one racial group separated from other racial groups. And oftentimes, that's part of it. But segregation is how we distribute opportunity. And one of the reasons in as your report shows quite segregated areas along a number of indicators actually are doing better, not just in black segregated areas, but sometimes better than integrated areas, meaning that they're hoarding more resources, hoarding more wealth, hoarding higher incomes. So the whole idea of segregation, not necessarily fully conscious, is how do people distribute opportunity?

john a. powell:

And you could do it at an individual level. And we do that, but that's inefficient, so segregation makes creating inequality efficient. It's an efficient way of actually replicating inequality. At a deeper level as well... So we need to think about segregation as segregation from opportunity, not just segregation from people. How do we separate people, certain groups of people, from opportunity? The kinds of things that Rich and Marge already talked about. But it's also doing more work than that. It's also distributing identity itself. In the social science, most social science agree that race is socially constructed, but almost no one pays attention to how it's constructed.

john a. powell:

And segregation plays a large role in terms of creating hard boundaries around social identities. So it really does some very fundamental work. And again, you talk about this in the report. The effort to bring opportunity to low-income disproportionately black and Latino areas is almost always, outpaced by the speed and intensity of creating inequality, creating low-opportunity by segregation. So segregation, in a sense, is more efficient at creating inequality and disparities than investing in low-income communities of color. So it's doing profound work at multiple levels, and there's virtually no reason to believe that that will change.

Stephen Menendian:

Thank you. I want to go off-script with my next question because it strikes me that we are in this unique moment of opportunity in the country where we've had what the media has called a racial reckoning last year, so there's greater public awareness of the structured role of racial inequality. I'm wondering if you could speak, I'll ask the hopeful question or the what's possible question towards the end.

Stephen Menendian:

But for now, could you speak to how you perceive the relationship between these three components, structured racial inequality, racial residential segregation, and the racial reckoning through understanding the police and criminal justice systems. What do you see as the relationships? It's an open question. Who'd like to start? Why don't we go back around, Marge?

Margery Turner:

Sure. It's really hard to focus on where the cycle starts. I think john's point of what an efficient system for separating us, making us identify with our separateness, and distributing both opportunity and threat or danger very efficiently and inequitably, this is a profound point, and it is not clear to me, as I listen to renewed attention to racism and the structures of racism, which is encouraging, I don't hear enough attention to these profound patterns of where we live, where our children grow up, where we have our friends and relationships.

Margery Turner:

I hope that the tool that you've developed brings more attention to the tremendous impact and damage that residential segregation is doing and helps people understand that if we genuinely care about promoting racial equity in our country going forward, we've got to knuckle down and dismantle this system of separate and unequal neighborhoods that we've built.

Stephen Menendian:

Richard. You're muted.

Richard Rothstein:

Well, I mute myself. Can you hear me now?

Stephen Menendian:

Yes.

Richard Rothstein:

Okay. You mentioned structural racism, and it's a term that most people don't understand. I think it's important to make it concrete, so let me give you an example of how it works. One of the ways it works is that once you have two separate and unequal communities, any policy that you implement, any practice you implement is going to affect those two communities differently, and not necessarily to the disadvantage always of African-Americans, but almost always to the disadvantage of African-Americans.

Richard Rothstein:

For example, recently there's been a lot of attention paid to the fact that the property assessment system in this country, and almost every community in this country causes African-American homeowners to pay higher property taxes relative to the value of their home than white homeowners pay relative to the value of their home. This is not because of racially explicit policies, it's structural racism. It's because any property tax system that you adopt almost negatively is going to affect black and white homeonwers differently.

Richard Rothstein:

For example, if you don't reassess properties every year, on a regular basis, if white neighborhoods are appreciating in value faster than black neighborhoods, property assessments in black neighborhoods are going to be closer to the real market value of homes in those neighborhoods than property assessments in white neighborhoods, which are going to be much lower than the real market value of homes in those neighborhoods. It's what the lawyers call a disparate impact of a race neutral property tax assessment system, and there are many, many other reasons why this happens.

Richard Rothstein:

That's what I think you mean by structural racism. Once you have two separate communities with different social-economic characteristics, any race neutral policy is going to have different impacts on each of those communities and in many cases, like the property assessment system, it's going to be much worse on African-American communities than on white communities.

Stephen Menendian:

john.

john a. powell:

Again, agreeing with Marge and Richard, I think the reckoning, the focus on race is actually a positive thing, but there are also, from my perspective, some serious blind spots, and probably even some negative. One of the ways, what happened with George Floyd and Derek Chauvin, important really awakening for the country, but to some extent, not entirely, but it focused on a police officer and the police, not on the larger system.

john a. powell:

There's some, as people talk about the qualified immunity for police and things like that. But there's been a lot of data, including in your report, showing that the black community is policed different than the white community. That there's more likely to be killings in certain communities, so that's spatially. There's a geographic dimension to this that moves beyond just the training of the police or even the police department.

john a. powell:

Several years ago, I was involved in a study looking at racial profiling. Again, very geographic, and some people explain the disproportianate focus on blacks by saying, "Well, blacks are more likely to be in the streets. They may use drugs at the same rates as whites, but they're more likely to be in the streets, in terms of using theirs, while whites are more likely to be in a house."

john a. powell:

Turned out, that's not an explanation. Because in part, the greatest disparity in profiling was when blacks wandered into upper-middle class white communities or lived in those communities, because there was an assumption that those communities are for whites. Literally, it's like people could stop. Why are you in this community? I've been stopped asking, what am I doing here? Not because I was veering in traffic, but it's like just visually.

john a. powell:

I think it's great there's more focus. I think the focus needs to be a little bit more nuanced and it does need to focus on structures. Let me just say one other this about structures, it's not that there isn't structural racism. Structures are almost always biased. Structures carry certain values and assumptions, and they're designed to do something and then the research terminology they're oftentimes built normalizing on a certain population. Think about when we were testing for AIDS, it was normalized on white males and the way AIDS showed up and acted in terms of blacks was not the same. Even in terms of tests. We found out that most recently with COVID, that the test was apparently not enough women were in the tests, women were actually being oversubscribed with the vaccine because their bodies are generally smaller, and so it had a gender bias in it.

john a. powell:

I use the example sometimes of an escalator. If you're in a wheelchair the escalator doesn't work for you. Almost all structures carry certain bias and sometimes deliberate, oftentimes it's not. One of the interesting examples, think about bathrooms at public sporting events. You see men zipping in and out because they have urinals and women are in these long lines. In California now we've said any new public arena has to be built differently. Again, it doesn't necessarily mean that someone did deliberately decided to disadvantage women, but women are disadvantaged in going to use the bathroom in half time at a sporting event in most of America, and the same phenomenon with even more so happens in terms of race and multiple reasons, sometimes it's just economic. Give one last example. Why do we overbuild low-income housing in low-income areas?

john a. powell:

Well, like I say, racism, but what also could say, housing, the land's cheap. It's like, let's look where we can build the most housing because the land is cheap. Oh, it happens to be cheap in areas which are disproportionately black, so we actually concentrate more housing in those same areas and then those kids, if it's family housing, go to schools, which are already overpopulated with kids on free and reduced lunch so that mechanism keeps perpetuating itself and we produce not just what Richard called the achievement gap, we create an opportunity gap and it's perpetuating. There's so many factors that are interrelated and it actually disadvantaged people and with a very strong correlation with race and other factors.

Stephen Menendian:

Continuing to go just off script for another question, many people care a lot about the racial wealth gap and about health outcomes and health inequalities with respect to race and that's become especially acute during this pandemic. I'm wondering if given your extensive writing and research on these topics, if you could speak to either one of those phenomenon and how it's linked to racial residential segregation. Anyone can start.

Margery Turner:

Well, I'll be glad to start with wealth. There's, I think in the introduction, Stephen and Samir talked about how black people moving to Northern and Western cities were not only constrained to live in only a few neighborhoods, but were then denied public sector programs to help buy homes and begin building wealth in those communities. That disadvantage in the early middle part of the 20th century gets passed from one generation to the next, so where white families starting from pretty modest beginnings, have been able to buy homes, build wealth, pass it to their children, buy homes in appreciating neighborhoods, escalating to the point where we can set our children up easily with wealth, transferred from generation to the next, for college, for business investment, for home ownership, black families putting in absolutely equal effort all along the way have been at a widening and widening disadvantage with respect to wealth.

Margery Turner:

The challenge then is that these inequities that we've built are really difficult to disentangle. There is no super easy fix now to expanding access to home ownership, home equity and wealth building, there's no easy fix to that. The solutions are going to have to cut across domains to repair the damage that our public policies have done, and in particular, we need to be sure that when we try to tackle segregation, we're tackling both the separate dimension and the unequal dimension, and we can come back and talk more about that later, but focusing only on remedying the separate, or only I'm remedying the unequal, I think is going to fall short.

Richard Rothstein:

But let me elaborate a little bit, if I may, Margery, it's great to have you set me up like this all the time, but let me elaborate a little bit on this wealth gap issue. As Margery pointed out in the 20th century, the federal government and the real estate industry and banks all conspired to move white working class families that weren't middle-class at the time, white working class families into single family homes and all white suburban areas. At the time, nobody had any idea that this was going to generate wealth. Nobody knew that those neighborhoods were going to appreciate in value the way they did.

Richard Rothstein:

But what happened was that the neighborhoods appreciated in value and the families who own those homes became middle-class because homes that they bought in the mid 20th century for what today's money would be about $100,000 working class homes are now, depending on the part of the country, were 300, 400, $500,000, some places, a million dollars and more, and the difference between $900,000 in the present value of the homes is the wealth those white families gained to send their children to college, to perhaps take care of temporary unemployment or medical emergencies, to subsidize their retirements and to bequeath wealth to their children and grandchildren, who then had down payments for their own home. It's a perpetuating situation.

Richard Rothstein:

However, too many policy advocates, they assume that because the wealth gap was created by this kind of home ownership, the way to fix it is to get more African-Americans into home ownership. That's partly true, but it's not nearly as true as people think. There are two ways you gain wealth from home ownership. One is if you have a longterm amortized mortgage and you stay in your home for the full term of that mortgage over time, more and more of your monthly payments are attributable to principal rather than interest and by the time of the mortgage is paid off, or you sell the home after a lengthy period of time, the wealth you have is that principle that was part of your monthly and increasing part of your monthly payments.

Richard Rothstein:

But the other part of this I mentioned before is you can gain wealth if the homes appreciate in value and that's not guaranteed. If you move African-Americans into more homeownership in neighborhoods that aren't appreciating rapidly in value, and that has been the experience of African-American homeownership. African-Americans have not gained wealth from home ownership, the way that whites have, except through this payment of an amortized mortgage. If you move into a home in a neighborhood that's not appreciating in value, you don't get that extra big boost in wealth that white families got for moving into the homes that unpredictably were in neighborhoods that were going to appreciate in value.

Richard Rothstein:

We have to think much more broadly about the wealth gap. The other way that families gain wealth is by having high enough incomes to save from their incomes and that today for African-Americans is perhaps as important a means of wealth generation as moving into homes and the hope that it's going to be in a neighborhood that's going to appreciate in value, and so we can't separate out racial policy from economic policy, so long as so many African-Americans are working in occupations where the income is too low to support substantial savings. We're not going to be able to address the wealth gap in the way that we would, if they were able to save from their incomes.

john a. powell:

Let me add my voice to this. Thank you Marge and Richard for setting me up. Stephen, I've been playing with the idea of writing something about complexity and nuance because I think that these issues are all complex and nuanced and if we understand that it not only helps us understand the issues better, but it actually helps us move to solutions so we don't make an intervention as Richard suggested and actually continue to perpetuate the problem. Let me just talk a little bit about the problem. First, it is a serious wealth gap, but it's different than we think. If you look at low-income whites, the wealth gap between low-income whites and low-income blacks is much smaller, makes sense.

john a. powell:

It becomes larger up the scale and becomes really big when you get to like 1% on top, or 0.1%. It's both a combination of race and class. You also need to look at not just private wealth, but also public wealth, so the things... To go back... If we were able to equalize the wealth between the poor whites and poor blacks, in some way, we say, "Great, now they're equally poor."

john a. powell:

I don't think that's what we want. We actually also have to look at how much wealth a healthy family society has, and we'll find that yes, there's a racial wealth gap, it's not as big at lower end as it is on the higher end, and so that draws our attention also too low-income whites. But whites, even low-income whites by and large have a different phenomenon than low-income blacks, so that's one. To Richard's point, housing has been the major vehicle for the creation of the white middle class and for the creation of white wealth in a white middle class.

john a. powell:

It's less true now for whites only, I think 49%, I think of white wealth is in housing, a much higher percent is in housing for blacks, but, and I worked on a program in St. Paul, Minnesota, where they were trying to increase home ownership for blacks ... and asked me to advise the community because the community was somewhat skeptical. After looking at it carefully I said, "Great program, you'll get to become a homeowner, but you're not going to have wealth appreciation", because the housing that the city had designated for this experiment was low appreciating housing.

john a. powell:

People said, "We're not doing that. We're not going to spend money on housing that's not going to appreciate. Why would we do that?" The city was very annoyed with me. It's like, "You talked people out of the program." I said, "No, I gave up information about the program." People assume that if you buy a house it's going to appreciate and is relatively equal. It's not. We pay, Russ talks about a segregation tax that if you live in an area that's deeply segregated, a black area, for example, that's deeply segregated, you will not only pay more in terms of taxes and other things, but it will appreciate less, and so you have to attend to that as well.

john a. powell:

As Marge said, there's so many things that are confounding. For example, a case I worked on was American family. It was basically looking at insurance companies refusing to insure homes in segregated black areas, which means your ability to actually, again, decrease the value of your home, your ability to repair the home, the ability to get a mortgage, so it's like all these things are confounding. One last example, people know I'm from a large family, I'm six of nine, and my mom and dad passed, but they were just great, great parents. We grew up in a house and it's actually in a video called, basically looking at RACE - The Power of an Illusion, it's in that video. But that house as Richard indicated, the picture of the house is in the video. If you see the house it's immaculate, my dad and mom were very meticulous people in that regard, and they bought the house some years ago. It was like $20,000, raised nine kids in that house. When they sold the house, the house sold, five bedrooms, three bathrooms, the house sold for $5,000.

john a. powell:

If the house had been in the suburbs, there would have been money to distribute to the nine kids. There was not. Again, the house was in immaculate shape. The location of the house was in an area that was not normally about appreciating was depreciating. So, there's these confounding mechanisms in place that you have to grapple with. I think we have to be clear that we're not just trying to make an intervention so we can make a measure of it by saying, we put so much money into home ownership for blacks. Well, that's great, but we have to look at the outcome. Did it actually produce the change we want? We had to be hardheaded about what we're trying to produce as an outcome, and instead of other areas of schools and other areas to often we say there's more money to schools. That's great.

john a. powell:

The Millicom case, the black kids are falling further behind and the goal was never just to have more money for schools. The goal was to actually do something about that opportunity and achievement gap. I think that with wealth and other things, if we really want to close the gap, we've got to better understand it on one hand and then do whatever it takes. As you know, in terms of making interventions, sometimes there are unintended consequences so we have to be willing to adapt and say that we really are trying to make a difference in terms of outcomes, not just in terms of input.

Stephen Menendian:

Thanks, john. Before I go to the next question, I want to give Marge and Richard an opportunity to add anything I may want to add.

Margery Turner:

I don't want to over-complicate this, but I think the issues that both Richard and john talked about of buying a home, but in a neighborhood that is not appreciating compared to buying a home where property values appreciate maybe faster than you expected, that is also the result, that difference is the result of segregation and discrimination, that because white people still value the separateness of white neighborhoods and because white people start out these days with more wealth, there is more price and demand pressure in white neighborhoods than in segregated black neighborhoods and other neighborhoods of color.

Margery Turner:

This is a self perpetuating cycle that we've built where the fear of integration and the demand really for a wealth hoarding, as john mentioned, continues to drive the wealth disparities that we launched through public policy in the middle of the last century. The reason I'm a little hesitant about talking about that self perpetuating cycle is that it may lead to a conclusion that there's nothing we can do about this, that we're trapped in a negative spiral, and I really resist that conclusion. I think we built this, it's our obligation to repair it, and we are capable of crafting the combination of policies, modifying them over time as they work and don't work and really put our focus on narrowing equity gaps, across domains that are driven and sustained by segregation.

Richard Rothstein:

Well, let me respond a little bit to that and add a point or two. I don't suggest in any way that there's nothing we can do about it. There's a lot we can do about it. But with the intense focus that we have these days very recently on race, we tend to forget that there are other aspects of this that are not specifically racial. The biggest aspect of it is the growing economic inequality in this country and the loss of purchasing power by working class families. That's an economic problem. It's a problem of economic inequality as you probably know, since the early 1970s, the wages of working class families of non-supervisory workers have been a smaller and smaller share of productivity gains over time, and almost all of the productivity gains this economy has made in the last 40 years have gone to the owners of capital rather than to workers.

Richard Rothstein:

That's a problem that is as powerful a way, if we can readdress it, of addressing the wealth gap as what we can do with housing, I'm not saying what we can do with housing is unimportant, but it's as powerful. We need to focus on those kinds of economic policies, as well as on racial policies in order to address it. The second point I would make is that the reason that there's so much demand, greater demand for housing in white neighborhoods and in low income segregated neighborhoods is not only because of whites' preference to live in segregated white neighborhoods. That's part of it, but it's also because segregated black neighborhoods have more industry. There's more pollution, less, as I mentioned before, less access to grocery stores that sell fresh food, less access to transportation that can get you to good jobs. These are all characteristics of segregated neighborhoods that make them less desirable places to live than white neighborhoods, quite aside from the desirability that white neighborhoods have for whites on a racial basis.

Stephen Menendian:

Thanks Richard. One of the questions that I wanted to post for you is what would you say to people who say, and Richard, you were leaning into this a bit, that the problem that we're confronting and you can define the problem however you'd like, isn't segregation and the consequences or effects of segregation, but just inequality, writ large. Do you think it's possible to solve inequality in a segregated society? Anyone.

Richard Rothstein:

Oh, I thought you were asking me. Okay.

Stephen Menendian:

No go ahead. You first.

Richard Rothstein:

Well, no, I would say it's both. Simply addressing the economic inequality will not fix this because of the inherited advantages that whites have in our economic structure over African-Americans. If, for example, john mentioned before St. Paul, that brought to mind Minneapolis that recently in attempt to address racial inequality, abolished single family zoning throughout the city. Well, there's no reason to believe that if you build triplexes in high opportunity areas that were single family zone, that will increase African-Americans access to them because they will be outbid by whites. Unless we have affirmative action in housing policies, in addition to economic reform, we're not going to be able to solve this problem. I think we need to keep in mind that it has to be both, and one of the things I began by saying earlier is because of the wonderful attention that we've had recently on racial inequality, we can make the mistake of thinking that's the only problem that we face.

Margery Turner:

I'm in total agreement, we need to do both, but I want to loop back to a point john made, which is while we do both, we need to be monitoring whether we are making progress on the racial equity gap, and if we're not we may be addressing other kinds of inequality, but it is possible we could make that kind of progress without narrowing racial equity gaps. I really think we're all in agreement do both, which is really do about 15 things at once, but with explicit attention to whether racial equity gaps across are narrowing.

john a. powell:

Yeah, of course I would agree, and I made a small, finer point. When we look at some of the economic things, the $15 an hour wage in Seattle, for example, how that rolled out. It turns out that the group that was most left behind were black women working in the service industry. I think it really is important, not, when we talk about economy, to talk about it in a disaggregated way. There are people who are situated differently and blacks and whites are situated differently and so you can improve people's economic condition, and then we usually talk about income and not wealth, and at the same time either don't address the racial disparities or even exacerbate it. I agree that we need to focus on it, but we need to focus on how race shows up in the economy over and over and over and over again.

john a. powell:

Sometimes we assume that economic intervention is race neutral. It is not and it should not be because of the disparities are not race neutral in terms of jobs people get, the experience they have, the racial and gender gap in terms of pay, all those things have to be attended to as well. Having said that we still need to actually also focus on the fact that white, I wouldn't call them work in class, because usually when we say working class implicitly, be talking about whites, whereas a large percentage of the working class, is not white, but when we're talking about white working class, we do need to attend to their stagnation that Richard talked about, but also the gap between their experience and the work of black and brown working class and women working class as well.

john a. powell:

Again, I agree with... It's a complex problem and as Marge said part of the reason why people avoid complexity is because it's hard, but also sometimes people feel like, "Well, it's too much to do, I can't do everything." We can't do everything, but we can be very smart in what we do and very strategic.

Stephen Menendian:

Two more questions then we're going to get our audience questions in here. During the presidential primaries, there was an exchange between Kamala Harris and Joe Biden about busing in Berkeley. Kamala explained that she benefited from a desegregation plan in schools in Berkeley and Joe at the time had been in government and opposed busing for desegregation. I think that to some extent was emblematic of a debate that people have had about the experience of desegregation and some who feel that it was either a failure and a bad experience, and in our report we cover some of the social science, Rucker Johnson at Berkeley has written about that. How do the three of you think about those narratives and debates? Marge.

Margery Turner:

Richard? Why don't you start this time?

Richard Rothstein:

All right. Okay. We keep on talking about complex issues, so this is another one. Many of the African-Americans who were bused to predominantly white schools during the busing era report that it was a very, very hurtful and terrible experience for them. They suffered nonstop what we now term microaggressions in the schools that they went to. They were discriminated against. We did not have two way busing to a very great extent, because although African-American were willing to participate in the integration program, by being bused busted predominantly white schools, whites used their political power to prevent the busing from bringing their children to predominantly black schools, so it was a bad experience.

Richard Rothstein:

Many of them who were interviewed later, as adults said, they would never subject their children to that experience if they had the opportunity again. However, what the social science research shows is that the children who participated in busing had much more successful adult outcomes than comparable children who didn't, difficult though, the experience was for them. If you look around today at the professional African-American middle-class that participated in busing in the 1970s, they are disproportionately successful. That's where a good part of the African-American professional successful middle-class today comes from, is from children who were bused in the 1970s. It's true, it was a very difficult experience for the people who participated, the African-American children who participated, but they received enormous benefits in terms of their experience, their life success, their adult earnings and so forth. It's a very complicated issue.

Margery Turner:

I've really been an advocate for residential integration for my entire adult life. I don't think our public policies have ever really made the effort, made the investment to advance it. But, I also have been trying to listen and understand better the perspective of African-Americans who are skeptical of, or resistant to the idea of integration.

Margery Turner:

And, as I listen and learn, one of the people I've learned the most from has been john powell. Highlighting the importance of two really profound concepts, and I hope I have absorbed them fully. One is about people's autonomy and power over their circumstances, individual and collective.

Margery Turner:

And, the second is about the sense of dignity and belonging. I think that our earlier half-hearted efforts at integration missed both those concepts. I don't think people of color had autonomy and power in those strategies. And I don't think we considered the values of dignity and belonging.

Margery Turner:

People like me, white people, who were proponents of integration were too quick to think that the neighborhoods in which we lived were unquestionably great places for everybody to live. As I think about this more, I think our next generation of policy in this space has to give more voice, more power, more choice to people of color.

Margery Turner:

And really dig into what it means to respect the dignity of people other than us, and create places where we can all feel like we belong.

john a. powell:

Thank you, I appreciate that. It is complex even as you know. We sometimes look at things at a macro level and then an individual level. At the macro level Rucker Johnson, I think has done an incredible job in his book. And I recommend his book.

john a. powell:

Richard has made reference to it. The data shows that people who have some experience, blacks are better off economically. It doesn't speak to the psychological, emotional scarring that people experience. I've talked to part of the Little Rock Nine, for example, the young people who desegregated Little Rock and, 50 years later, they're still hurting. So I think we have to attend to that. It's interesting, we've talked about busing. Busing is an example that we haven't really taken the problem seriously, because the reason people have to bus, is because they live in segregated housing.

john a. powell:

And so we're saying, we're going to keep the segregation. The parents are going to live completely separate, but you, young black child, you go have an experience and then come back. And it's the young black child, not a young white child. So we're taking all of these social problems and ills and putting them on 10 and 12 years old, two years old. And then we send them into, I think can accurately say a hostile environment. I actually was bused. And literally we fought, from the moment we got off the bus. I only remember learning one thing, I remember the fights. That's not integration, that's not even desegregation. And we, first of all, we conflate the two. And so we've never actually tried integration in a meaningful sense on a large level. There are examples in terms of schools and school districts, but we never really tried it.

john a. powell:

And it's not like... Asking people if they like busing is like asking people if they like chemotherapy, right? Busing, is really from my perspective, a weak solution to a very strong problem. And so, no, I don't like chemotherapy, but is it better than cancer? And so we need to raise the bar, redefine it. And yes so, two of the terms I want to throw out is that, in the Supreme Court case dealing with affirmative action in higher ed, the court asked the question, what is critical mass? Why is that such an important concept? And I felt like maybe the lawyers flubbed it, but the idea of critical mass is that your group is present in a large enough number. So they're not pointed out. They're not sticking out. They're not being noticed all the time. And many of these efforts to desegregate, we didn't ever achieve critical mass.

john a. powell:

So the black students, the Latino students were always aware that they did not belong, that they were at... That they were going to a white school. In my mind, if we had true integration, there would not be a white or black school. And the school wouldn't belong to the white children and the black children are there as a guest. They would fully belong as Marge said. And we haven't really tried that. We know it works, but we haven't really had public policy to support it. And the last thing I'll say is Jim Ryan, who's now the president of Virginia, but was also a law professor. He wrote an article several years ago, saying we in America have given whites a veto over integration. And so, we're willing to do it until the white's say, "No more." Whether it's, "You can't build in my backyard", "You can't..." The way we carved up much problem areas.

john a. powell:

So cities could expand at one point to make the surrounding areas part of the cities, and as cities became increasingly populated by people of color, states rewrote the rules, saying no more expansion unless you get.... So it's like, what Ryan is saying over and over again. You've given whites the right to veto any plan. And the last thing I'll say is, I think, again, it's complicated. It's not... The data shows that more and more whites actually conceptually want to live in integrated neighborhoods, but there are all these caveats, which are real. I have a 12 year old granddaughter, soon to be 12 year old granddaughter. And so, I think with my daughter, I think about schools, and you end up backing up back in to thinking about race. You think about safety. You think about parks. You think about all these other things that are oftentimes associated with race.

john a. powell:

And that's legitimate. In New Jersey, people worry that if black, white people worry that blacks moved in, the value of house will go away and end up creating an insurance policy and they didn't leave, right? I mean the whites didn't, we didn't have 'white flight.' So there are all these issues that are tied to it that are not necessarily molded by a narrow concept of racism. When race is imbued throughout these questions of, value house appreciation, schools, parks. So again, which makes the issue very complex. But busing, no one wants their kids to be bused. Although, the end mark is, in most of America, we do bus kids. You get out of urban areas and there are kids that get on the bus all the time.

john a. powell:

We lived in New York, and we lived in Brooklyn and my daughter went to school in Manhattan, but that is that she was getting a really... She went to Hunter College... Idea that she was getting something really positive. And we were exercising some agency, dignity and power in that process. It wasn't someone saying, you're going to do this and you're going to go to this white school. Anyway, so I think the story is complex. And I think most of the attack on integration is really an attack on a bad desegregation phenomenon, that we experimented with for a short period of time.

Stephen Menendian:

Richard, it looked to me like you wanted to chime back in. So I wanted to give you that...

Richard Rothstein:

No, I don't need to repeat myself. Thanks.

Stephen Menendian:

Okay. I've worked with john for nearly two decades and I learned from him something new every day. Thank you john, that was brilliantly put. So here's the last question then we're going to get to the audience. So given your decades of experience on these issues, issues of racial inequality. Richard, before you became über famous with your book on housing, you were doing a lot of work around school and education. But given all the work you've done on these issues collectively, what gives you hope today? What paths do you see forward? And, feel free to parse that question however you'd like. Let's go around. Marge, why don't you start?

Margery Turner:

So, I'm afraid my answer is going to be somewhat mundane. But, at the end of the Obama administration, I think I said more than once how optimistic I was about the new regulation they established to live up to the longstanding mandate, to affirmatively further fair housing. And I said, at that time, that if HUD could even sort of adequately implement those new rules, mediocre implementation of those new rules over the next 20 years, we might really see separate and unequal neighborhoods being dismantled. A real shift towards both integration and narrowing of disparities between neighborhoods where people of color live and people, where white people live.

Margery Turner:

So I was optimistic about that, and I've been extremely pessimistic for several years. But, I am now optimistic again, that that rule is being brought back to life. Some thinking over the last four years may lead to some refinements of it. But I really think that it is an incentive support mandate to communities to focus both on re-investing in the communities of color that have been starved of resources and opportunity, and on tearing down the barriers that exclude lower-income people and people of color from neighborhoods that are opportunity rich.

Margery Turner:

It calls on communities to tackle both those things at the same time. And again, if we can implement that, if HUD can implement that in even a mediocre level of quality, I think we could be on a 20 year path of significant progress for the country. I hope I get to live to see it.

Richard Rothstein:

Well, I am very hopeful, not confident but hopeful, but I'm not... My hope is not based on what HUD might do in the current administration, because unless there's a new civil rights movement in this country that forces HUD to do those things, it's not going to be able to get away with it. It looks good on paper, but they won't get away with it. There's no political support in this country today for even a modest implementation of the affirmatively furthering fair housing rule. What makes me hopeful? Well, it's two things. One is the process of writing and researching my book, The Color of Law made me hopeful. Because I realized that so long as we thought that the segregation this country happened by accident, happened naturally, what we call de facto segregation, it's very hard to figure out how it's going to be undone.

Richard Rothstein:

Once I came to understand, and many of my readers came to understand, that the segregation that we have in this country is primarily the result of very, very explicit public policy, it's much easier to figure out how public policy can undo it. What was done by public policy can be undone by public policy. So that's the first thing. The second thing that makes me hopeful, and again, not confident, I mentioned a minute ago, that without a new civil rights movement, we are not going to be able to give the political support to well-meaning, you'll forgive me, bureaucrats who want to implement these policies. But, we're having a more accurate and passionate discussion about race. This seminar today, and your work Stephen, show more accurate and passionate discussions about race than we ever have had before in American history, ever before in American history! And that discussion, we had 20 million people participate in black lives matter demonstrations last summer in spring.

Richard Rothstein:

And most of those were whites who were led by African-Americans. Well, we've never had that kind of white participation in racial justice demonstrations before. So there's the potential for a new civil rights movement. It needs to be organized. It needs to take much more careful and deliberate action, it needs to focus on housing. And not only on police abuse, police abuse is a critically important topic, but we need to begin to focus mass pressure, mass movement pressure on, on housing issues. But out of that passionate and accurate discussion that we're having about race in this country today, I think it's possible that a new civil rights movement will emerge. And if it does, then the things that Margery is hopeful about, may actually come to pass.

john a. powell:

Well, and Steven knows that I don't organize much around hope, but I do think that there are some possibilities, and certainly I think there's no cause for despair, or maybe some cause. But, the cause for thinking we can do something I think is even greater. And one Richard mentioned in terms of, the country's at this funny place, as we were saying there is an incredible call to sort of understand and rethink racism in America. And at the same time, an incredible call to go back to an old system of Jim Crow. So both of those things happen at the same time. And there's a lot of support, both in terms of people who are normally associated with power, and people on the streets. So it's a sense of words right. We're sort of like without much of the fire power, meaning guns and bullets. We're, relitigating the Civil War, we're relitigating the idea.

john a. powell:

I mean, there are 30% of white Americans who now strongly identify with being white as a political space. That was not true even 10 years ago. And so there's stuff that's pulling us apart. And they're, in my concern in part is, that even as we focus on racial justice in a way that allows us to come together, they would do it in a way that allows us to build bridges. And so, one of the things I liked about what Richard said is bringing the economy into the discussion and including low-income and poor whites. Not to displace the race question, and not saying low-income whites are in exactly the same position as low-income blacks, they're not, but they deserve some attention. But it's not enough to just have policy. We also have to have a really good story to actually incentivize the movement, so people can see how this relates to their daily life. So one of the things that's problematic, or difficult about these complexities is they seem abstract, and it's easy in a sense to sort of organize around the policy, that's very concrete.

john a. powell:

When I did the case on insurance, most black people didn't realize they were being redlined by an insurance company. They didn't see it. So it's hard to get people excited about something they don't see. I worked, as you know Stephen, we worked on the water case out of Detroit. And when we first started working on it, most people in Detroit didn't understand why that was an issue, until the water turned brown, until the water stopped coming. And by that time we had lost years.

john a. powell:

So part of it is help connect these problems with people's lives in a meaningful way, so that we can have that movement. But the last thing I'll say is that, I think America really is trying to, many Americans, are trying to do something different. We know here in California, for example, that inter-ethnic, interracial families are being formed at an incredibly fast rate, which was unthinkable 30 years ago. There's some projection that in a relatively short period of time, the plurality of family, new family formation in California, and by the end of the century in the country, will be mixed. That's saying something, that's saying that kind of personal animus is not there, at least for some Americans. That's something to build on. We haven't told a story about that.

john a. powell:

And one of the things you worked on Stephen, is that while people are skeptical about the federal government, there are cities all across the country that are rezoning. That are getting rid of zoning or exclusively single-family housing. And part of the reason they're doing that is to try to address racial justice. I agree with Richard, by itself it won't produce that, but then at least there's the goal. And I think we should be helping them say, okay, you need to do this, this, this, this, if you're going to do that, and then you need to follow the data and make interventions. So people are trying. I just think they're not... Because the problem is complex, they want a single answer and there's not a single answer, but I think there's an openness. And I think we should help in terms of helping people take that complexity, and not being paralyzed by it, and figuring out strategies to move forward.

Stephen Menendian:

Thanks, john. I think we actually have a question about zoning from the audience. So Holly says, can you please address zoning changing from single-family to multi-unit zoning? Many believe it is not enough to reduce housing costs without specific requirements for affordability. Thoughts?

john a. powell:

Well, I'll start because I've brought it up and worked with on it at Institute under your leadership Stephen. Like all these things I'm saying, right? So housing is a complicated problem. We live here in the Bay Area. Oakland, that's thought of as a, sort of a black Mecca in the Bay Area, has lost over a third of its black population. San Francisco, which was, had the largest percentage of African-Americans of any city west of the Mississippi is now under 4%. And so you have both the problem of racial displacement and gentrification, and affordability, and they're similar, but they're not the same. And I think we have to grab onto both of them. And will zoning solve either one by itself? Probably not, but it's a step we'll have to be deliberate. So we're trying to address the issue of affordability.

john a. powell:

And I have many thoughts about that. I think the market, we need to restructure the housing market to actually produce many more housing, we're over 2 million units short in California. As long as we're in that short of housing, affordability is going to be a problem and this exacerbated by the shortage of materials and all that sort of thing. So again, I think we have to really be bold in terms of addressing affordability in housing. There's prophylactic things we could do. The people that have got rent control, think about 'just cause' eviction. All of those to me, just prophylactics. If we don't build more units and build units in high opportunity areas and make sure that a range of people, both based on income and race, can have access to them, we're not going to solve the problem. But I do think there's an appetite to solve the problem. We just haven't intervened I think in the right robust way.

Margery Turner:

Totally agree. I think zoning and land use reform is critical to tearing down the barriers that exclude people from neighborhoods of opportunity. It's going to vary from place to place. What that zoning reform has to look like to be effective. And zoning reform will not push housing prices, or rent, all the way down to be within the means of the lowest-income households. So to get there does require some additional subsidy, but the zoning reform can help push prices and rents down into a more moderate range by, as john said, catching up, catching housing supply up, to the scale of demand. And finally, I think we just all too often yearn for silver bullet solutions so that we say, oh great, let's do zoning reform. And then we realize, well, zoning reform all by itself, isn't going to totally solve the complicated problem we've created. And so we say, yep, that's the end of zoning reform, instead of saying, okay, zoning reform is part of the solution. What else needs to be combined in our portfolio solution strategy to get the change we want to achieve?

Stephen Menendian:

Richard?

Richard Rothstein:

Well, let me add this one other point. In many places like the San Francisco Bay Area, and Washington DC, and New York and Austin, Texas, and many, many other, Chicago, it's not just the lowest-income families who cannot afford market-rate housing, it's moderate-income families. It's what I referred to before as working class families. And increasingly in the communities that I just described, and as well as others around the country, you find everybody from teachers to firefighters, to construction workers, to hotel and restaurant workers, having to commute long distances to their jobs because housing is not affordable for them. Housing would still not be affordable for them simply as a result of zoning reform. They are disproportionately African-American, but as john has pointed out, not all African-Americans who are in this position, African-Americans, middle-class African-Americans, moderate-income African-Americans, live in more segregated neighborhoods than whites with identical incomes and have less resources, less wealth as we've described before.

Richard Rothstein:

It is, in my opinion, absurd that we are building so-called inclusionary zoning housing, which includes units for the wealthy, that is market-rate units, and units for the poorest and no opportunity for the people in the middle, the missing middle, to live in this affordable housing. The federal government, as john mentioned before, subsidizes the lowest-income housing through low-income housing tax credit primarily, and slightly higher-income through the Section Eight Program. But families who typically have incomes, well not to get too technical, but between say 80% of area median income and 120% area median income, what we call moderate-income families get no subsidies, and cannot afford housing in the communities where it's being built, even with zoning reform. So we need a subsidy program for moderate-income families, as well as low-income families and the opposition to it is going to be, and is enormous because people say, and there's some truth to it,

Richard Rothstein:

I don't mean to minimize the truth, with limited resources we need to subsidize the housing of people who need it the most. And if we have a choice between addressing homelessness and addressing two hour commutes, we should address homelessness. Well, we need to do both because we're not building a healthy society by hollowing out of its middle in any community. And so we need, and I'll make one final point, which I'm sure will be controversial. There is no more inefficient way of subsidizing housing than the way we're doing it now. We need to return to the model of public housing that we had when it was first constructed as the most desirable housing available for middle-class, working-class families. And we need to build public housing that is attractive, that is not the high-rises, that fits in well to the context of a residential community. That includes both market-rate, moderate-income, and low-income deeply subsidized units, in order to create a healthy residential environment.

Stephen Menendian:

Thank you. I found it helpful in thinking about this issue to say that zoning reform is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition. I want to thank all of you. I want to apologize to the audience that we didn't get to more questions, but promise you, we're going to get to many, many more questions next panel. I'll make sure that we have more time for that. Before we go, though, I wanted to ask just one question, and I'll... Follow up question, and maybe I'll give this to Richard to start it.

Stephen Menendian:

I was speaking to a journalist yesterday who was looking at our project webpage and the table of most to least segregated metro areas and cities. And Richard, one of the things that I point out is the two cities in our project that we identified as integrated, are places that have military bases. And this journalist who I was speaking with, I won't mention who it was, was a son of a Naval officer. I believe, or it was an air force officer, and automatically identified a lot of the cities on the lesser, least segregated portion of the list, as places that have military bases. And this journalist said, those are deliberate federal interventions. And it just strikes that, to create real integration, which is a point that you've made, we need deliberate efforts. I wonder if we could just wrap up, I know we're over time, by talking about deliberateness and consciousness around that. Richard, could you start?

Richard Rothstein:

Well, the military has done a good job ever since president Truman began the process of integrating the military. I've mentioned earlier, the school achievement gap. The achievement gap is much, much lower in military schools on army bases and throughout the world, than it is in any other segment of American society. So, it's not surprising that those military communities have less segregation. But, I'll just repeat myself, I've said before, what we need is affirmative action programs in housing. We need to begin using that term, I think. Because it's rooted in an understanding, that it's needed to cut... The affirmative action is justified on the basis of historic patterns of discrimination that need to be overcome. And so I think, yes, we need deliberate policies because, as I said earlier, and others have said as well, race neutral policies are not on them in themselves. They, they may be necessary like zoning reform as a first step, but they themselves will not fix this problem without conscious affirmative action programs to undo the sins of the past.

Stephen Menendian:

Our producer is pulling us off stage, so we have to wrap there. Thank you again, everyone. This was, it was an honor to moderate this panel and thanks again. We'll be right back.

Margery Turner:

Thank you. Thanks and congratulations again.

Stephen Menendian:

Welcome back, everyone. I'm thrilled to have our final panel for the day with these amazing folks. Let me do a brief introduction. I'm Stephen Menendian, and I'm the Director of Research and Assistant Director at the Othering & Belonging Institute, if you're just joining us.

Stephen Menendian:

I'm joined by Lisa Rice, who is the President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance, where she leads efforts to advance fair housing principles and to preserve and broaden fair housing protections and expand equal housing opportunities for millions of Americans. She played a major role in crafting sections of Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and in establishing the Office of Fair Lending within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Stephen Menendian:

We also have Demetria McCain, who is a fair housing advocate, an attorney, an adjunct professor and the Executive Director of the Inclusive Communities Project, an affordable fair housing organization that works for the creation and maintenance of thriving racially and economically inclusive communities, expansion of fair and affordable housing opportunities for low-income families and redress for policies and practices that perpetuate the harmful effects of discrimination and segregation.

Stephen Menendian:

And Ajmel Quereshi, who serves as the Senior Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, where he maintains a diverse caseload, spearheading LDF's work in the areas of education, economic justice, and housing. In 2018, Ajmel served as Lead Counsel for LDF in multiple suits challenging the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's suspension of housing regulations that would have made housing more accessible and affordable.

Stephen Menendian:

Welcome to you all. It's great to have you. I think you're all muted, so we couldn't hear your response, but it is great to have you.

Lisa Rice:

Thank you.

Stephen Menendian:

It's great to see you all. This is a tour de force panel of folks who I think are the vanguard of our civil rights communities, fair housing, lawyer, advocacy communities. We're going to talk about solutions and your work and the path forward and where you see we are, and we're going to get plenty of audience questions.

Stephen Menendian:

Let's start. As I said, you're among the nation's most important advocates in the nation's leading organizations, dealing with the problems of racial inequality and housing and fair housing and segregation and its byproducts. Why don't you just begin by sharing your experience in recent years, tackling these issues? Successes and/or failures. Who would like to start? Maybe let's start with Lisa.

Lisa Rice:

Sure, and Steve, thank you so much for having me. It's a delight to be on this panel, particularly with Demetria and Ajmel. We work together, in so many aspects, on advancing fair housing issues throughout the country. Steve, one of the challenges that we face as a nation is that, as the first panel so aptly discussed, there are so many byproducts of segregation, both the segregation of people based on race and national origin and the segregation of resources and amenities, as john powell so well noted.

Lisa Rice:

I think the Covid-19 pandemic has really brought this to the fore. What we found was that people who, quite frankly, were never that much interested in segregation were grappling with the why, behind the Covid impacts, why were communities of color contracting the virus at higher rates? Why were they dying at higher rates? Why were they being vaccinated at lower rates?

Lisa Rice:

So in the midst of answering these questions, we have been having discussions with some of the most unlikely stakeholders when it comes to advancing racial equality and tackling issues of segregation. Having discussions, again, like I said, with the most unlikely stakeholders about these outcomes and explaining that, really at the crux of these problems lie systemic inequality, lie residential segregation. These conversations led to what I view as some really interesting and unforetold successes. I kind of want to focus my comments on the successes because I feel like we've had so many failures over the decades. I want to focus on the successes.

Lisa Rice:

For years, housing and financial service providers were vehemently... When I say vehemently, I want to underscore that. Vehemently fighting us over the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing provision of the Fair Housing Act, as well as a disparate impact tool. Richard Rothstein in the first panel, I think, really explained how disparate impact works. I think Margery talked about Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, but Richard talked about how the disparate impact tool works. In case some folks missed Richard's explanation, just briefly I'll explain.

Lisa Rice:

Disparate impact, it just simply means that if businesses have policies that result in a discriminatory effect on people of color, women and other protected groups, then they need to drop that policy that is bringing about that disparate impact, in favor of a policy that is more equitable and fair.

Lisa Rice:

The point is that we were often on very opposite sides of lenders and real estate firms over these two issues, Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, working to end the impacts and legacy of segregation, but we were also on the opposite sides of the disparate impact question. As we began to have these conversations with lenders and housing providers about why we were seeing the disparities related to the Covid pandemic, people were able to more keenly understand the intersection between segregation and health and wealth outcomes.

Lisa Rice:

The common refrain, Steve, had been, "Well, people are not fairing really well because they're not working hard enough. They're making the wrong decisions. They're making wrong life choices," but the Covid pandemic and those disparate outcomes really helped to dispel that myth. The more conversations we were having, the more walls of misunderstanding began to tumble.

Lisa Rice:

For the first time... It's what I call a watershed moment, Steve. This past summer, we were able to convince some of the nation's leading lenders and housing providers to support both disparate impact and Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, for the first time in our nation's history.

Lisa Rice:

The Trump administration issued this really, really horrible rule that would have almost completely eliminated our ability to use disparate impact. It issued another rule that rolled back our ability to address segregation and to affirmatively further fair housing. For the most part, when the Trump administration had made these announcements, lenders and housing providers, they supported the Trump administration, but after our conversations over this past summer, and there were many, I can tell you, one by one, companies began pulling back their support for the Trump administration's rules and even asked the administration to go back to the drawing board and issued letters.

Lisa Rice:

We have this in writing from Citigroup, from Bank of America, from Wells Fargo, from Quicken Loans, from the National Association of Realtors, asking the Trump administration, "Stop. Stop. Hold the horses. We need to really rethink these policies, and we really need to think about how what you're proposing is impacting segregation, impacting racial inequality in America."

Lisa Rice:

Additionally, the Business Roundtable... Now this has never happened before. The Business Roundtable issued a report on racial equity, and in that report, the Business Roundtable came out in support of both disparate impact and Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing. These, in my book, they're great successes. As I said before, I referred to them as a watershed moment and they're successes that we're building upon, in order to further advance fairness and equality and help eliminate the impacts of segregation.

Stephen Menendian:

Your organization is just so amazing, Lisa, and I'm going to plug your newsletter because the work that you're doing is incredible, and the pressure that you're putting on the right folks, in the right places, is amazing. Demetria, why don't you jump in?

Demetria McCain:

Happy to. That's really exciting news, Lisa. Thanks for sharing that with everybody. I think before I mention a couple of successes, I think it's important to point out, which I think the previous panels kind of referenced, is how tenuous successes are. So I don't want to overstate. Every time there's a move forward, there's a move backwards.

Demetria McCain:

So here in the Dallas area, our organization counsels and works directly with a lot of Housing Choice Voucher holders. For those in your audience, we don't want to get into all this technical jargon. Section 8 Vouchers, let's say, that people can use. Low-income people who get that from the Housing Authority, and they can use that in the private rental market.

Demetria McCain:

Out of much of the advocacy that we did early on, came some administrative changes at HUD that created what was called a way of making sure that the power, the buying power, you might say, of that voucher, for people who are renting with those vouchers, was high enough to get them out of isolated high-poverty areas. Technical term is Small Area FMR, but technical term is not important. That was done in a way that really opened up housing for a lot of low-income Black voucher holders, in a way that I think that people didn't expect because at that time...

Demetria McCain:

This first happened here in the Dallas area in 2011. At that time, there was kind of this view that everyone who's Black and low-income kind of thinks and does the same thing, and wants to all live in the same place. So literally thousands of people were able to move to other parts of the Dallas Metro Area when that slight change in a policy made such a difference. Then, that policy is still in effect, so people who use vouchers have a high enough purchasing power... They're not buying the rental unit but I just use that as a term here... To make a decision.

Demetria McCain:

They can either stay in a racially-isolated area that has high poverty or the families with whom we work, who are often parents of children who were wanting, as they would say, better things for their children. Often looking for different types of school settings and trying to escape some of the high crime we have here in the Dallas area. Thousands of people have been able to make those moves, and they're still able to use that tool.

Demetria McCain:

So I would call that a huge success, but again, everything is tenuous when it comes to this kind of stuff, because it's being used in Dallas and only a few other places in the United States. It's not being used everywhere, in every jurisdiction. So there's more work to be done, but that's a huge success. Now, we can talk about the obstacles and barriers a little more as we chat, but we very much know that it's not always easy to find rental housing with those kinds of vouchers.

Stephen Menendian:

Thank you. Ajmel?

Ajmel Quereshi:

So I think I have three guideposts that I want to use to talk about what the last four years have been like. What a question. What have the last four years been like? I can speak from a personal perspective before I get into the substance. As all of you do, I remember what it was like in December of 2016.

Ajmel Quereshi:

I said to myself at that time, "I'm ready to go right now. I'm ready to fight. I'm ready to push for civil rights, the way that all of us have been doing throughout my career. I think what I'm really worried about isn't 2016 or 2017. It's the collective exhaustion that all of us are going to feel by 2019 and 2020. So pace yourself. It's a marathon, not a sprint."

Ajmel Quereshi:

Sure enough, by 2019, 2020, all of us, I think at least speaking for myself, felt a degree of that exhaustion, but personal anecdotes aside, I think I have three guideposts that I want to use to talk about what the last four years were like.

Ajmel Quereshi:

I think the first one, and the reality which many of you know, is that the last four years, at least from a lawyer's or a litigator's perspective, and that's mostly what I am, has been about playing defense. I think that's the unfortunate reality, when you have an administration that's hostile to civil rights, or you have a Body of Congress, in addition to an administration, that's hostile to civil rights. You're trying to preserve some of the victories that you were able to get in the past.

Ajmel Quereshi:

Lisa and Demetria have talked a little bit about some of those already. Between 2008 and 2016, the Obama administration issued a number of regulations which made it easier for individuals to seek relief for discrimination, even if there wasn't that smoking gun proof of intentional discrimination, and also made it more fair for individuals to be able to calculate the amount of money that they should receive when they're seeking to use a Housing Voucher.

Ajmel Quereshi:

Now, those are both things that were immediately put under attack when the previous administration came in, in 2016 and 2017, and we spent a lot of time fighting to keep those regulations in place. I think the challenge for us now that we're in 2021... Even though we have a different administration in office, it doesn't mean that all civil rights problems will be solved, but there is an onus on us to shift from a defensive posture to more of an offensive one, where we're thinking about not only stopping what bad things are being done, what retrenchments are happening, but also thinking about what we can do offensively and proactively to further fair housing and reduce segregation. So that's the first guidepost. I think defensiveness and that posture was a big part of the last four years.

Ajmel Quereshi:

I think the second guidepost I want to use to talk to all of you about was the role of procedure. I think that many of us, and I think the sad reality of doing civil rights work is... I've been in this work for almost 15 years now, and I think so much of being able to win civil rights victories just means getting your claim heard, getting the actual substance of the merits argued. As a lawyer, and I think as an activist, as an organizer as well, there are so many barriers put in the way from a procedural perspective that keep you from even getting to the substantive question.

Ajmel Quereshi:

I think that's part of the problem with our legal system, is that a lot of those barriers that are in place, technical terms like standing in class certification, and adequacy, and commonality and things like that, they're all there to keep the substance of individuals who've been the victims of discrimination, from having their claims heard in the first place. So I think that that's another thing we've regularly struggled with, is as courts have tightened the restrictions on whose claims can be heard, we're constantly fighting just to have our day in court, to get over the procedure, to have the actual victims claims heard for the first time. So that continues to be a constant problem.

Ajmel Quereshi:

Then I think the third thing I wanted to talk to you about, in terms of what the last four years have been like, is history. I think that all of the work we do always has to be cognizant of the history that we're working after and working within the context of. The reality is that almost all of the civil rights work that we're doing right now is responding to nearly 200 years of slavery in the United States, 100 years of Jim Crow on top of that, and then a retrenchment in civil rights that we've seen over the last 25 years.

Ajmel Quereshi:

I think some of the history that perhaps we're most familiar with, or many of you are most familiar with in a personal sense, is what happened in the Great Recession, which was a direct product of predatory lending that happened between 2000 and 2008. Just some statistics to throw at you: by 2002, African-Americans were three times as likely to receive a high-risk subprime loan than their similarly qualified white counterparts. By 2008, 55% of Black mortgage holders nationwide had high-risk subprime loans, compared to only 17% of white mortgage holders.

Ajmel Quereshi:

This is just one example, in one particular context, but I think we're always working against and in the context of that history, which shapes almost all of the work that we do. That history of discrimination, unfortunately, isn't just in the past, and that's why I used that subprime example. A lot of the history that we're working against is ongoing and very recent.

Stephen Menendian:

Yeah. Thank you for sharing all of your respective experiences and insights. We're going to open to the audience in just a moment, but I want to ask each of you first, looking to the future, the near future in particular, what do you see as the most critical and important policy changes or legal strategies for addressing this enduring problem of structured racial inequality, particularly in housing? Maybe if you could give an example of what you think is most critical in this moment, or one of the most critical. Let's go back around. Lisa, could you lead us off?

Lisa Rice:

Sure. I'm happy to do that. So when I think of a policy prescriptive, I think about zoning ordinances a lot and zoning issues. Steve, in the aftermath of the Civil War and the ending of slavery, as Black people and other people of color were moving across the country, municipalities were eager to adopt race-based or racially-conscious zoning ordinances, until the Supreme Court struck them down.

Lisa Rice:

Of course, after the Supreme Court struck them down, planners and municipalities immediately pivoted to what they called race-neutral zoning prescriptives, but they were really designed. I mean, that was cloak and veil. They were designed to funnel people of color into certain geographical areas and to main sort of racial homogeny homogeneity from a geo-spacial perspective.

Lisa Rice:

One tactic was, once people of color started moving into a particular area, the city would change the zoning in that area from residential to commercial or industrial. That served to lock people into certain places. It's one of the reasons, parenthetically, why communities of color have such high levels of pollutants, but there were many, many other tactics too.

Lisa Rice:

The point is that these zoning laws are still in place. They're part of the structural system of segregation and inequality. They're still in place and they're still performing their original purpose. It's one of those systems of inequality and racism that we have not dismantled, and so finding ways to dismantle and deconstruct these discriminatory zoning policies, I think, is critical.

Lisa Rice:

One way to do that, of course, is by using the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Framework to dismantle these discriminatory zoning ordinances that lock people out of opportunity, but if I can now lift up a legislative opportunity, I think that the impending infrastructure bill provides a great opportunity to advance equality. The infrastructure package, if it's designed right, can serve the purpose of providing incentives for jurisdictions to change their zoning in a way that is more equitable and fair.

Lisa Rice:

There've been a lot of discussions about how to do that, but the best way to do that is by connecting or tying incentives, tying carrots, if you will, to things that municipalities really want. So municipalities may say... If you tie a carrot to a particular benefit or funding strain that municipalities can live without, then you're not going to see any changes in zoning, but if you tie those carrots to funding streams that municipalities really want, like transportation dollars, health dollars, economic development dollars, et cetera, then you can begin to see some movement in terms of changing the zoning structure that has really worked to help isolate too many communities.

Lisa Rice:

The other thing that I'll mention before passing it on to Ajmel and Demetria is that the infrastructure bill, it has to contain housing provisions. That's critical because housing is infrastructure, but let's stop with this banality that housing and infrastructure are not inextricably linked to one another. They are. Housing is an infrastructure, for all intents and purposes. So the infrastructure package has to contain both supply-side provisions, but it also has to contain demand-side provisions too.

Lisa Rice:

It doesn't do any good to build up and develop communities and expand housing choices and other economic opportunities, if people of color and underserved folks can't take advantage of those opportunities. So we have to have both supply- and demand-side provisions, so that we're not only building the opportunities, but so that people can avail themselves of those opportunities that we're developing.

Stephen Menendian:

Demetria?

Demetria McCain:

Yeah. It's a good thing I was muted because I was the Amen Corner over here when Lisa was talking. So I'm just going to double down on exactly what Lisa just said. This issue of zoning, exclusionary zoning, is very real and this is how it has looked in the Dallas area.

Demetria McCain:

There was litigation filed a while ago. I'm talking about the late 1990s, in a town called Sunnyvale, just east of Dallas. There, the zoning required like acres per lot, and you couldn't even zone for anything. You couldn't build anything that was multi-family. So post-litigation, the town was required to zone multi-family and eventually, after a protracted period of time, they did, but they did not advertise it.

Demetria McCain:

So our organization took it upon ourselves to place our own ad saying, "Hey, there's a new apartment complex in Sunnyvale. Aren't you interested?" The property management company, who did not advertise this to our population of voucher holders, ended up having to rent a hotel because the demand was so great.

Demetria McCain:

Okay, so you can change a policy by way of litigation or legislation, but to Lisa's point, you've got to make sure that people can access that new policy. Now, in other parts of the DFW area, particularly Collin County, just north of Dallas, there's so much exclusionary zoning. It's ridiculous. It is the poster child of what the previous administration said. "Don't worry, low-income housing won't come here." You've got these density fights. You even have a city that actually filed a lawsuit against their own town's new comprehensive plan, because it required too much density.

Demetria McCain:

So when you have developers who want to build low-income housing tax credit properties in higher-income areas, they can't do it because they bump up against some of these zoning roadblocks that don't allow for multi-family zoning. So exclusionary zoning is huge. I just echo what Lisa said on that.

Stephen Menendian:

Thank you. Ajmel, give us another policy or strategy.

Ajmel Quereshi:

Sure. So I think that this one ties in at both the federal level and the local level. I think the key is to follow the money. That's the guidepost I'm going to give you, in terms of what we can do going forward. That applies, I think, equally to what Demetria and Lisa have talked about in terms of exclusionary zoning and barriers that stand in the way at the local level, but also at the federal level as well.

Ajmel Quereshi:

I think speaking to the federal piece first, good housing is... I think all of us know this. I mean, good housing is about more than just the building you live in. It's more than just about the physical structure. It's about the schools that you're near. It's about the job opportunities that are available. It's about how many grocery stores are available near where you live, how many doctor's offices.

Ajmel Quereshi:

I think all of those are things... Good transportation. All of those contribute to make housing good and meaningful and a neighborhood "a high-opportunity neighborhood" but the reality is, is that the way that the Fair Housing Act has been interpreted, that's the prime legal statute that you can use to seek redress for discrimination in the context of housing, is that certain courts have interpreted in such a way that you can't seek redress in court for all of those other things beyond just getting the building.

Ajmel Quereshi:

You can't necessarily seek redress under the Fair Housing Act for moving into a neighborhood with poorly funded schools or with inadequate transportation nearby, but I think all of us know... When I say all of us, I mean not only us as advocates, but just in your individual context, in your individual life. I mean, where you live right now, you know that if a grocery store is not nearby, if you know that there aren't job opportunities that you can access, if you know there's not a Metro station or a subway station or a light rail line, you know that affects the quality of housing and how good of a life you can have for yourself and your family.

Ajmel Quereshi:

Regardless of that common sense, the Fair Housing Act has been interpreted in such a way that you can't seek redress under the Fair Housing Act for all of those other things that make housing good, but the Federal Government can.

Ajmel Quereshi:

The Federal Government has the authority, under something called Title VI, to make sure that when funding is being given to municipalities in cities all across the country, if those municipalities are using that funding in such a way that they're only building transportation in predominantly white neighborhoods, or they're using funding from the Department of Education in an inadequate way, such that they're not equally funding predominantly Black schools, the Federal Government has the power to say it to that locality, "Distribute this money fairly, or we'll cut off funding."

Ajmel Quereshi:

So I think we have to recognize that there's more to fair housing than just the building. Then we have to hold the federal actors accountable, such that when they give money to these localities, for all of those other things beyond just literally the building that make housing important and good, that those localities are distributing the money in a fair way. So follow the money at the federal level, but also follow the money at a local level.

Ajmel Quereshi:

The reality is, is that many of these developments that are happening in different communities throughout the country are funded locally by tax breaks, subsidies, bonds, tax improvement programs. All of these local programs fund developments in these communities and localities have the power to impose restrictions on the developers, as we've seen done in communities across the country.

Ajmel Quereshi:

Baltimore is a classic example where, after pushback from LDF and community groups in Baltimore, Baltimore required Sagamore, which is the developer doing development near Port Covington in Baltimore, to include requirements related to affordable housing, but more than just affordable housing. Also included payments to distressed communities in Baltimore, included requirements regarding employment advertising to individuals in Baltimore, internships, externships, and then local hire meant hiring requirements as well, such that the developer was actually hiring individuals who lived in distressed communities in Baltimore and gave them training.

Ajmel Quereshi:

So the Federal Government can't just give money to localities and say, "All right, we're not going to care what you do with that money." In the same way, when localities give out money for these developments, they have to make sure that the developer gives something back to the people who actually live in the city.

Stephen Menendian:

Thank you, Ajmel. All right, I promised we'd open up to the audience now. We're going to get the audience questions. So the first question is, what do you think about the huge growth of the private rental market? Being the renter inherently means you have less power in housing. Shouldn't we be trying to explore other housing models? This is an important question, and I'm sure it comes up. You've seen in many variants. Who would like to start?

Lisa Rice:

Sure. I can kick it off. Yeah. This is a troubling development and it is happening because we have created an infrastructure to support private investors to be able to invest in and grow the rental housing market. One of the areas where we have greatly resourced investors is in their ability to purchase single-family homes, so single-family homes that used to be owner-occupied, you're seeing a precipitous increase and the turnover of those homes, from owner-occupancy to investor-owned properties.

Lisa Rice:

It really started happening en masse during the Great Recession and the foreclosure crisis, when we saw the Federal Government, FHA, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae selling assets in bulk to investors, and then investors were transferring those properties or selling those properties to investors. Fannie Mae issued a billion dollar line of credit, low-interest line of credit, to Blackstone to be able to go and buy up single-family homes. They did this instead of implementing policies that would help homeowners stay in their homes and not lose their homes. Homeowners stay in their homes and not lose their homes to foreclosure, but they also didn't really implement policies that would help hardworking families to be able to buy those foreclosed assets. They, for example, favored cash sales instead of sales to hardworking families that were getting mortgages to be able to purchase these assets. The federal reserve created and sanctioned new REITs, so the commoditization of rental housing payments, right? So you can now sell and trade rental housing payments on the stock market. And again, this infrastructure was put in place during the foreclosure crisis. So we really have created all of these supports and resources and mechanisms to provide sustenance to the investor industry. We have not supported hardworking families in the same way. And this is something that we're hoping can be fixed under the auspices of the infrastructure package. Demetria and I were talking earlier about both supply and demand provisions and infrastructure, that is one way to help address it.

Stephen Menendian:

Demetria?

Ajmel Quereshi:

So I have one personal anecdote which I'll lead then into a policy point. So I live in Takoma Park, Maryland. you're getting me live from my basement in Takoma Park so you're getting a real life a view into what my home looks like. But I remember when I moved to Takoma Park, Maryland, which is just outside of Washington DC and so it involves a lot of politically involved and politically knowledgeable people or so we say, I guess. But I was talking to a local politician and I sort of asked, and at that time I was a renter at that time and had been a renter for many years, I lived in seven different cities in my twenties and so I've rented nonstop like many of us and rented well into my thirties as well, and I think what that local politician said to me at that time is perhaps in a fit of too much honesty is, "Oh, you're a renter. We don't really pay attention to you anyway." And this is a fairly liberal place that I lived.

Ajmel Quereshi:

And so I was a young buck and I pushed back and I said, "Well, why? I mean, I hope to build a life here one way or the other, and why does my vote not matter or why aren't you as concerned about it?" And the answer he essentially gave was because the idea is that as a renter in Takoma Park or in Washington DC, there was an idea that we would be transient and we wouldn't be sticking around anyway, and so he didn't necessarily have to be responsive to renter's concerns, but once you bought a home, you had made a commitment to be there for a while.

Ajmel Quereshi:

Now, I think that that view is absolutely wrong and wrong-headed for a variety of different reasons, but I bring it up because it was insightful, I think, into the mindset of a lot of politicians. They're concerned about where their votes are coming from and who their base is going to be. And so I think that one of the things that we as advocacy organizations need to do, and I think honestly many of the people who work at advocacy organizations are renters themselves and so it's something that they're personally familiar with also, we have a responsibility to work with an organized communities who are renters to solidify that base of political power, such that politicians... And I don't think that this particular politician was unique, I think a lot of politicians think this way, they're worried about being reelected and they make a calculation where they decide that homeowners are the ones that are worth their time to invest in.

Ajmel Quereshi:

We have to push back on that and punish that line of thinking and make sure that organizer or renters voices are heard because they're not just transient individuals, they're individuals who because of The Great Recession and structural discrimination and economic discrimination oftentimes want to live and build a life in a particular community, but aren't able to do so because of the structural forces of discrimination.

Stephen Menendian:

Demetria?

Demetria McCain:

The question actually made me think about a program, since I work in the space of the Section 8 voucher holders, it made me think about the self-sufficiency program that's kind of built into the Section 8 program where a family who's using a voucher has the opportunity to save a significant amount of money towards home ownership or some other kind of life-changing opportunity you might say. But what comes to mind, which I think was kind of mentioned in one of the earlier panels, is if you have a family who's now moved out of a racially isolated area and wants to stay in that type of area, if they decide to buy and become a home owner, does that necessarily mean that they're moving back to a racially isolated area?

Demetria McCain:

So I think it's something worth thinking about. The self-sufficiency program is not used enough across the country, but it's certainly something that we should pay attention to and lift up. Not all low-income renters who have a Section 8 voucher are going to necessarily reach home ownership, but I think it's an opportunity that we should try to expand upon and help them build their own power, you might say.

Stephen Menendian:

Yeah. I think part of what the question is getting at is the question of social housing, which is a particular form of housing. But part of it is just, how can we put more funds into supporting affordable housing? I mean, what is it, a third to a quarter of low-income people who need vouchers actually get a voucher? So the waiting lists are too long, we need to clear that out. But also just the news reports, right? Invitation homes going around paying 20% over ask in single family neighborhoods, just buying up... A plug: We've been doing some research in the Bay Area, trying to figure out what's actually going on in terms of speculation in our California Community Partnerships Program. So you can check that out.

Stephen Menendian:

Let's move on to another question. The question is, do you see any path forward for courts or laws to move from the intent versus disparate impact framework towards affirmative integration policies for housing? Great question, who'd like to start? We've got an interesting court right now, right?

Lisa Rice:

I thought Ajmel was going to kick that off.

Ajmel Quereshi:

So there's a couple of different pieces there. So I think that Mr. Landers brings up a great point, so the American legal system is focused around negative rights, which is what Mr. Landers' question is really digging at that things cannot be taken from you. You can't be denied your right to free speech, or you can't be denied the right to security of your home. It's not directed around what are called positive rights, that is the American legal system oftentimes doesn't guarantee you certain things like the right to an education or the right to housing. Now, there are places where that is found, oftentimes in international documents, for example, UN documents, or many of you probably know about the South African constitution, which guarantees a right to housing. There are those positive rights.

Ajmel Quereshi:

Another place that those are found, and this is getting more directly towards answering Mr Landers' question, in the United States is that they're found in state constitutions. Oftentimes you'll have a state constitution which guarantees more affirmative rights that a person can go into court and enforce. And education is a great example. I have a big case in Baltimore right now where we're suing the State of Maryland for failing to meet the Maryland constitutional requirement that individual students be provided a thorough and efficient education by the state of Maryland. And we are suing on behalf of children in Baltimore who are overwhelmingly black and brown. In Baltimore, public schools are 80% black and if you include black and brown students, they're close to 90% black and brown. So state constitutions is one place you can look in terms of answering Mr. Landers' question.

Ajmel Quereshi:

I think the other place you're going to look, and this is why I thought Lisa was going to jump in, is I think this is why the mouthful that we've been talking about Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing is so important. So what the AFFH requirement is, and I'm saying AFFH for short so I don't have to repeat Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing is a piece of the statute, piece of the Fair Housing Act, which is unique. It imposes an obligation on HUD to ensure that when it is distributing funds and when it's taking action at large, it's doing so in a way that actually fights segregation. It's not waiting for individuals to come forth and lodge complaints that they're been discriminated against, but actually puts an affirmative obligation without victims doing anything for HUD to go out and fight the segregation on the whole.

Ajmel Quereshi:

And so I think those are the two places that I would look in response to the question. Number one, I would look to state constitutions, and then number two, I would look to robust enforcement of the Fair Housing Act's AFFH requirement. But in addition to that, you don't have to stop there. If you live in a community that isn't meeting its AFFH obligation and receives funds from HUD, you have the opportunity to either contact HUD and call for HUD, to look into whether or not the community is meeting its AFFH obligation, or you can seek legislative change and we've seen this done in Boston where Boston has imposed and created its own AFFH requirements for itself. And so those are all ways that not only courts, in response to the question, but the policy bodies as well can move towards more of a positive vision of rights as opposed to a negative one.

Stephen Menendian:

That's great. Lisa or Demetria?

Demetria McCain:

I have nothing to add.

Stephen Menendian:

Let's get some more questions in then. What is the panel's opinion of the opportunity zones that were created under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, particularly how they're being pulled through at the local level?

Demetria McCain:

Yeah. So we've paid attention to this somewhat here in the Dallas area. Part of our work has been neighborhood equity work in isolated areas that have traditionally been really kind of the subject of red lining, you might say. And it's very troubling. It was just before the pandemic, I believe, that we had someone come in from Washington DC and attempt to explain opportunity zones but in fact there were no real teeth to any of that in a way that would actually help and benefit the residents. What we've read about and seen far too much are opportunity zones being used to build storage units, right? Acres or blocks and blocks of storage units, and maybe employing a few people to work at those storage units, but not in a way that actually helps the people who live in these communities. So we have not been optimistic. And I say, we, those of us who are in the advocacy space here in the Dallas area, we've not been optimistic about what opportunity zones might do here.

Stephen Menendian:

Anyone else want to tackle that one? Thank you, Demetria. let's get another question up. This is from the Sacramento Housing Alliance: Are there ways to have a plan to advocate for returning land stolen during Jim Crow that may be owned by cities or states? It's a great question. What comes to mind for me is Tulsa, right? So I think there's a larger questions around reparations. Maybe we can answer a reparations question too, if you have thoughts on that.

Lisa Rice:

Yeah, there are efforts at addressing this issue, what is at the core of this question, in multiple ways. So let me start with the lowest hanging fruit first and then move to the more difficult topper layers of the tree. So the lowest hanging fruit around this question is heir's rights, property, this is property and in fact, this impacts my family, my great grandfather left all of his children and grandchildren heir's property, right? And I can tell you in my own family for as long as I can remember, I have been told that, "As long as you are alive on this planet, Lisa, you'll always have some place to call home because you'll always have ownership in this land that is situated in Arkansas."

Lisa Rice:

But we're now finding that that's not true, that people because of misinformation have been losing the property that their ancestors passed on to them because of a lack of knowledge and a lack of information about how to properly structure these entities, these contracts and the deeds so that people do not lose the property that they already own. And this is happening en masse, particularly in the south and the south eastern regions of the country where black families are losing millions of acres of land that was passed down to them because of loopholes in state statutes. And so one easy thing is to fix those deeds and to set up the proper wills and testaments so that people may hold on to the land that they already possess as like the lowest hanging fruit, right?

Lisa Rice:

And so then another topic of discussion around this area is, what do we do about Native American tribes who want to regain their ancestral lands, right? Lands that have been taken away from them, lands that the federal government had promised them through treaties and things of that nature is happening Oklahoma, for example, right now, right? And we are seeing some successes to that end and we're seeing some failures to that end. And part of that is dependent on how state laws are constructed vis-a-vis federal laws as well.

Lisa Rice:

And then we had this other question about the situation that you raised, Steve, Tulsa, the Tulsa's of the world, like, what do you do when people had their land literally stolen from them during the Jim Crow era? That's a tougher construct. In fact, my family is in that situation, my great-grandfather had almost 300 acres of land, literally stolen from him, never got it back, forever lost to our family. And that's the reparations question as well, that is proving much more difficult to be able to address. What we are seeing is some smaller examples of municipalities and individual families engaging in reparative actions, reparative measures to maybe not perhaps restore the land that had been taken from your family, but to try and substitute that with a gift of some other land.

Lisa Rice:

Now, this also happened to my family. My little cousin was just given seven acres of land in Vermont by a white family who had benefited from slavery. The white family realized that they weren't the family that specifically stole the land from our family decades ago, but they sort of made the swap and gave my little cousin seven acres of land in Vermont Wine Country for her to grow and develop and do with what you want as a reparative measure. We're seeing this in Elmhurst, Illinois, we're seeing this in Oregon and other places throughout the nation as well. So I think we'll continue to see, Steve, these little exercises of people trying to engage in restorative justice to make amends for what has happened to people of color over the years. But this whole question of how to legally seek reparations, it's an extremely difficult one.

Stephen Menendian:

Demetria?

Demetria McCain:

Steve, I just want to add it's important for us to also recognize that land has not only been stolen during Jim Crow, there's a perpetuation of discrimination and in many respects, many communities, we have a Freedman's town here in the Dallas area that's right next to a freeway and a big fancy city developed park that's being built right now. And they're seeing collectively the loss of structures in their community at the hand of a discriminatory city ordinance, you might say, that allows the demolition of historically preserved homes to be destroyed way more quickly if they're under 3000 square feet.

Demetria McCain:

Now, we know that formerly enslaved Africans did not build houses that were over 3000 square feet therefore by definition of the ordinance here in Dallas, those properties are able to be demolished with city resources, this is before the resolution was passed in Dallas, they were being demolished with city resources as recently as 2015, 2016, 2017. It's been saved a little bit because of a resolution that was passed recently, but this is not just about the Jim Crow era, there is the perpetuation of residential discrimination going on now.

Stephen Menendian:

And I want to give a shout out to The Sogorea Te Land Trust in Oakland, which is an indigenous effort to restore land at a community level to the Aloni and other native peoples who were dispossessed in the Bay Area. Ajmel, I don't know if you have anything to add to that. Let's get some more questions.

Lisa Rice:

Let me add one more thing, because we've been trying to develop different ways that entities can promote restorative measures to help people who have been impacted by these actions. So I sent to your team, Steve, a new framework that the National Fair Housing Alliance and the Center for Responsible Lending developed, it's a first-generation down payment assistance program. So if you can share that link with the participants, I won't take the time to go through it, but it is, again, another restorative justice measure. It's a framework that lenders, municipalities, any entity really can use in order to implement a restorative program to help people gain homeownership access.

Stephen Menendian:

Thank you. We'll get that out. I think we have time for one or two questions and I have a closing question. What are some ways that we can reinvest in black and brown communities without promoting/causing gentrification? It's a great question. I want to sharpen the question just a little bit and saying that whether you're talking about new developments whether affordable housing or code enforcement or light rail, there's always a concern that any investment whatsoever can have the effect of displacement and gentrification. So I want to put it in that frame. What do you all think?

Ajmel Quereshi:

So I'll take that one because I think it goes to the heart of something that I've been working on and I've talked about once already. I think education funding is a great way to do it. I think there are hundreds of underfunded schools throughout the country in predominantly black and brown communities attended by predominantly black and brown students that are severely underfunded. And I think too often the approach has been a question of, how do we get black and brown students who are attending predominantly black and brown schools in the inner city to attend white schools in suburbia? As opposed to asking, how do we invest new monies in those schools, in those communities that are already there?

Ajmel Quereshi:

And I think that while putting up a new apartment development or putting up a new Metro line, as Steven mentioned, is going to attract people from outside of that community, I think putting new monies into the schools that are already there, not building something new, but actually making sure that the schools in which real children are in right now are actually working and are actually funded adequately is a way to bring some immediate investment to black and brown communities

Demetria McCain:

And I'll just say by way of example of the community I just mentioned, the Tenth Street Historic District, so this question relates to gentrification, but just to be clear, there's gentrification in the sense of your erase of culture and history and then there's the issue of displacement. So on the issue of trying to stop the erasure of culture and history, at least here in the Dallas area, we're trying to make sure that the community, the neighbors who've been living there and have been stewards of the land and the property in the neighborhood are able to put together a neighborhood plan that is adopted by the city within its comprehensive plan. So that when decisions are made about what's going where, what have you regarding land use and the like, then there's already something in place built by the residents who have been living there for years, right? In a way that tries to preserve that history of what the newly freed enslaved Africans created when they created that community.

Demetria McCain:

And on the issue of displacement, it's a tough nut to crack, but certainly starting off with the concept of addressing the issue of property taxes and to the extent that taxes go up when people now discover this area, right? It hasn't really been this newly discovered. So I think addressing the issue of property taxes is really important. I'll stop there.

Stephen Menendian:

Maybe we can slip in one more question. Any thoughts on choice mobility via RVs or tiny homes? This has been an alternative to motels in the homeless response system. No equity, but maybe with the interest as a tax benefit? I think the question is about you don't generate the equity in these emergency programs, but...

Lisa Rice:

Yeah, shared equity programs are another program where people have argued that people don't get sort of full wealth benefit. But I think that the thing that we've been saying all along, both in the first panel and this panel, is that there is no one size fits all. There's no single silver bullet, right, to addressing these issues. People exist along a spectrum in terms of opportunity and where they're situated in life, and you have to have options available to people along that spectrum. Look, this nation has passed literally thousands of laws and ordinances and spent trillions of dollars over a 500 year period creating racial inequality. Think about that, thousands of laws, hundreds of trillions of dollars to create a deeply inequitable society. Why do we think that we can only come up with one solution to cure all of that, right? Why do we think program is the panacea? That's nuts.

Lisa Rice:

We need a range of programs and we need a mound of resources to deconstruct systems of inequality and rebuild them, replace them with structures that are fair and equitable for everyone. This is not something that we're going to achieve over a couple of years even. It's in it for, somebody said earlier, it's a marathon, right? This is not a sprint. And that's the attitude that we have to place, we need a range of products and services and programs, and we need full support for this range of products and services and programs.

Demetria McCain:

And I'm not sure if the question is related to housing mobility, is that referencing regarding short term?

Stephen Menendian:

It appears to be. Yeah, it's talking about tiny homes and RVs in particular.

Demetria McCain:

Okay. All right.

Stephen Menendian:

I don't know if you encountered that. So let me close with this question then, so it's been over 50 years since the Fair Housing Act, and as our report shows in many ways we're as segregated or more segregated than we were 50 years ago, certainly 20, 30 years ago, where are we going to be 50 years from now? The Kerner Commission warned about this, this Alice in Wonderland quality, the same commissions, the same uprisings, the same inaction, where are we going to be? Are you hopeful at this moment that we have a broader public awareness? Maybe leave us with a moment of hope and where you think we might be heading?

Demetria McCain:

Well, I certainly think that we're in this moment because the people are speaking, the people have spoken, and unless we start to center those who are most impacted by some of these discriminatory policies, we're going to end up in the same spot. Those of us who are researchers, policy folks, advocacy folks, we certainly have a role to play, but I think centering some of those voices will keep us in the moment. And it is the moment that I think gives us the political will, you might say, to make changes. And so I'm optimistic in that regard.

Demetria McCain:

I certainly feel as if that my experiences have been broader than the experiences of my parents and I expect that my children's experiences will be broader than mine, that they'll have more housing options wherever they'd like to go. Options as far as housing, education, the whole nine yards. So I am optimistic because I believe that generation Z is not going to let this thing go, but we've got to be willing to step back and let the people who are most impacted speak and give them real, not token, but real seats at the policy tables.

Stephen Menendian:

Lisa, Ajmel, go ahead.

Ajmel Quereshi:

We're running short on time so I will be really quick. I think it depends on three things. I think number one, who we vote for not only at the federal level, but also in mayor's offices, in city councils offices, whether or not we're picking people were willing to sacrifice their own ambition for the public good. Number two, whether we recognize that all of the things that we're talking about today involve sacrifice. I think too often people think that the solution to racism necessarily means just better or more fair interpersonal contact, but these changes require addressing the systems of structural racism, as well as a redistribution of resources, which may mean more taxes for some or less monies for some projects or agencies and societies that are favored by popular forces.

Ajmel Quereshi:

And then finally, I think on all of us as advocates, because I think all of us who are listening in and working on this today are informed. What does our broader public education strategy look like? Right now, we're seeing a push against "critical race theory" but the fight against what they're calling critical race theory isn't about just the field of critical race theory, it's really about any discussion about the history of race in the United States and the role that race has played and continues to play in our society. So those are some quick thoughts.

Stephen Menendian:

Lisa?

Lisa Rice:

Yeah, I'll just say simply both my mother and my father grew up in the Jim Crow south. My father, Arkansas, my mother, Alabama, both of my parents got a sixth grade education because the schools in their community were deeply segregated. And the school for black children only went up to the sixth grade so they can only get a sixth grade education. I'm a college graduate. My parents sacrificed and because of the changes in our laws, the changes in our societies, I was able to graduate from college and attend graduate school. That's a big change. That's a significant change, right? Just in my lifetime.

Lisa Rice:

When my mother and my father went to go purchase a home, the real estate agent told them blatantly because of their race, they could not purchase the home that they wanted to purchase in the community that they wanted to purchase a home in. We don't see that kind of discrimination happening today. So we have definitely seen progress in our nation. We've seen progress. We're not where we want to be, but we're not where we used to be. So I am hopeful for the future that we'll continue to see progress made. Because I believe that Demetria is right, I think the young folks are not giving up. They're fighting on. They are energized. And I think Ajmel is right, the vote matters and we've got so many people who are fighting for our right to vote. So I'm hopeful.

Stephen Menendian:

What a great note to end on. This panel has been insightful, heartfelt, revelatory and sophisticated, and you're wonderful panelists. Thank you so much. I have so much appreciation and gratitude for your joining this event and to our interpreters who have been phenomenal today. And yes, thank you so much. And to everyone who tuned in, thank you for your brilliant questions. This has been The Roots of Structural Racism. Be sure to check out our project page again. Thank you. Take care.

Demetria McCain:

Thank you for having me. Thank you.