August 30, 2018
Over the last several months, Minneapolitans have been thinking about their values and how they should be translated into the urban structure. Residents have been debating a proposal for the city’s 2040 plan, which was crafted by city planners to outline citywide policies and priorities. This document is required by the state and the Metropolitan Council, which directs communities to develop this kind of plan every ten years.
These types of plans have traditionally been filed away with little fanfare or notice. But this latest comp plan--which must be adopted in some form by the Minneapolis City Council by the end of 2018--has raised an uproar. We’ve been getting lots of questions about the plan and how it relates to our research here at Mapping Prejudice. So we wanted to share some of our thoughts on this debate.
We created Mapping Prejudice to show that our current urban landscape is the product of unjust deeds. Racial covenants were used to segregate an integrated city. Those racial restrictions shaped where people could live. They determined who could own property. And they influenced where resources would flow. We can see the real, palpable legacies of racial covenants in our contemporary racial disparities.
We have shared our data with the folks at the Community Planning and Economic Development department and other city officials. Our research has undergirded the city’s efforts to think about contemporary public policy through the lens of racial equity.
The Mapping Prejudice Project does not endorse policy proposals. But we do wholeheartedly support these efforts to reexamine city planning. Housing sits at the foundation of our contemporary racial disparities, which are the highest in the nation.
We want our neighbors to see the hidden histories of race and privilege in the city. We want everyone to understand that our contemporary racial segregation was deliberately manufactured through decades of racist housing policies.
Knowing this history is not enough. What do we do with this information? We have an obligation to remedy these past injustices. We need to make housing affordable. All neighborhoods should reflect the diversity of the city as a whole.
The question is how. And that is where the discussion around the 2040 plan is so vital.
How do we provide new housing? How do we invest in neighborhoods that have been cut off from capital for many decades? How do we remedy the inequities that have grown in the wake of this disinvestment? How do we make investments without displacing existing residents? How do we develop our green spaces and public transit in equitable ways?
These are the questions for our community today.
We don't have any easy solutions.
Here's what we do know. Our contemporary disparities are neither healthy nor sustainable. Change is necessary. We have to give up some entrenched ideas. Single family homes are not the best housing for everyone. Homeowners are not always better than renters. Segregated neighborhoods are not more stable.
But we don’t have an easy policy remedy. To be transformative, our current policies need to acknowledge structural racism and our community history of racism. They need to address the concerns of community. They need to be crafted by policymakers, citizens, and advocates who understand how past practices got us to our current situation.
We are glad that you want to be part of this debate. Thanks for being engaged and informed.
Photo by: Bill Lindeke