Over a century ago, Mark Twain penned a famous line describing the unique cultures of the three largest cities in the Northeast: Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. He wrote, “In Boston, they ask how much does he know? In New York, how much is he worth? In Philadelphia, who were his parents?” For a long time Boston has been associated as a city of great education, New York has often correlated with financial strength, and lastly, Philadelphia has been recognized for its historical lineage. Even many years ago, people were aware that where you live heavily influences your lifestyle and perspective. Though the majority of Americans may not realize the extent of the influence of where they live on a day-to-day or long-term basis, the effects are blatantly there. While segregation has undoubtedly decreased in the past half a century, there are still persistent pockets of discrimination in major metropolises across the nation. The perpetuation of many of these pockets can be attributed to redlining, blockbusting, racial covenants, and despite many laws and racial equality progress, simply sickening discrimination.
Where you live has more far-reaching effects than the average American might initially realize. For instance, in the podcast that I listened to, a matter of three miles separated a girl from a fantastic public school education and one that wasn't so great. The great public school met all of the state’s requirements, while the other hardly met any. Fantastic public schools are often tied to the districts overall wealth; a wealthier district means more taxes and some of those taxes go towards funding the school system. This means that poorer neighborhoods generally have worse school systems than their richer counterparts. In addition to a generally weaker school system, poorer neighborhoods are often subjected to more crime and bigger social issues. A Stanford University study shows that blacks and Hispanics typically require higher incomes than white Americans to live in affluent neighborhoods. This adds a racial component to the mix. It also makes the upward mobility of blacks and Hispanics more difficult compared to their white and Asian peers. Many of these modern problems have stemmed from issues of redlining, blockbusting, and racial covenants. Even though Americans would like to believe that we have evolved enough to discredit and eliminate these segregational tactics, they still persist throughout society today. Only the naïve and close-minded can remain oblivious to all of these racial issues.
Racial covenants refer to the contractual agreements that disallow the lease, purchase, or occupation of property by a specific people (usually blacks). This practice of exclusive, restrictive covenants came about as a reaction to the Great Migration of southern blacks and also in response to the 1917 court ruling of Buchanan versus Warley (which stated mandated racial bounding unconstitutional). They became common after the Supreme Court validated their use in 1926 (Buckley versus Corrigan). These covenants further promoted segregation between Caucasians and non-Caucasians. The Housing Act of 1934 encouraged realtors, land developers, and community residents to write these restrictive covenants to prevent redlining. To maintain property values and sell housing, as mentioned before, realtors supported residential segregation. The effect of these limiting covenants was that it legally kept neighborhoods and areas unmixed and homogenous. It furthered many of the other processes of discrimination mentioned in this paper. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 was passed and prohibited racial restrictive covenants from being upheld both privately and judicially, but this ruling did not force the removal of racial limitations from the property deeds. Because of this, segregation remains in property documents in fine print and serves as a historical reminder of the segregationist ideology that plagued many cities.
Wherever you live, the implications of that location are eminent and can affect your lifestyle considerably. While segregation has undoubtedly decreased in the past half a century there are still persistent pockets that put these aforementioned discriminatory practices in motion within major metropolises across the nation. Even though Americans would like to believe we have evolved enough to discredit and eliminate these segregational tactics, they still persist at some level today. Hopefully, in the near future, we can realize true equality across the board in American society.