Racism in Urban Planning

When driving through a city, people will say an area is blighted when they see houses that aren’t spiffy and a lot of black people walking around.

Taking my own advice from my “Reclaim your surroundings” post, I looked at my city in a new way and realized that this isn’t the case. These neighborhoods don’t need to be New Urbanised or even revitalized. At least not in the way we’d want to do it as planners or architects. When I drive up Eastern to Franklin, Hall, and Wealthy, I see people honking at each other out of greeting, people walking, people talking on street corners, people saying hi to each other. It’s a habit to look at this and say “oh they’re walking because they can’t afford a car.” But in reality, they are living a life I keep dreaming and writing about on this blog. Taking the bus. Walking places. These aren’t negative things.

Grand Rapids is still pretty segregated. I think there is racism on both sides. There are two different cultures going on. The white culture looks at old houses and wants to repaint them and make the neighborhood artsy and gentrified. Is it really necessary?  I’m not saying stay in your suburbs. Oh gosh, no. I got lost in a suburb section last night while driving home from work. Horrifying.

Are suburbs the new projects?


One thought on “Racism in Urban Planning

  1. Once the black sections were so because of redlining, deed restrictions prohibiting sale to people of color, and other coercive methods.

    Today, too often these neighborhoods are self-segregated, at least to a point. Desiring to be surrounded by “people like me” is not just a suburban/Caucasian phenomenon.

    Great blog. Keep up the good work!

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