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kottke.org posts about Gene Demby

The Dangers of Running While Black

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 21, 2020

In this special video edition of the Code Switch podcast, host Gene Demby explores the dangers of running while Black and why the safety of Black runners has not been given the same sort of attention as the safety of white women. The most striking bit of the video for me was right in the beginning when Demby debunks the myth of “all you need to run is a pair of shoes”.

When we runners talk about running — or let’s be real — when we evangelize about it, we talk a lot about how democratic it is. But it’s not really that simple. You’re gonna want gear, which costs money. Then there’s the issue of actual physical space. You want sidewalks that aren’t jagged, trails that aren’t overgrown, air that’s clean enough to breathe. (So ideally you don’t live near landfills or power plants or factories.) So yeah… all you need are shoes. And space. And money. And time. Oh and you also need something from the people around you — the sense that you belong in that space. Women don’t always get that luxury. And neither do runners of color.

Even a seemingly simple thing like running and who can do it is affected by decades of policy decisions that disproportionately favor residents of predominantly white neighborhoods.

A Short History of Housing Segregation in America

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 09, 2020

In this video for NPR, Gene Demby summarizes the history of housing segregation in America and how it’s a factor for current differences in health (poorer), wealth (much less), education (underfunded), and policing (much more aggressive) for Black communities in US cities.

If you look at the way housing segregation works in America, you can see how things ended up this way. Once you see it, you won’t be able to unsee it.

When you’re talking about housing policy in America, Kimberly Jones’ Monopoly analogy starts to sound a lot less metaphorical and more literal: if Black people cannot buy houses or can only buy houses on certain streets, they will not be able to build wealth like others can.

For more on housing segregation, check out historian Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America. From a 2017 interview with Rothstein:

The federal government pursued two important policies in the mid-20th century that segregated metropolitan areas. One was the first civilian public housing program which frequently demolished integrated neighborhoods in order to create segregated public housing.

The second program that the federal government pursued was to subsidize the development of suburbs on a condition that they be only sold to white families and that the homes in those suburbs had deeds that prohibited resale to African-Americans. These two policies worked together to segregate metropolitan areas in ways that they otherwise would never have been segregated.

Rothstein talked about the book with Ta-Nehisi Coates during a conversation at Politics and Prose Bookstore.

Update: This is excellent: you can explore the maps created by the federal government’s Home Owners’ Loan Corporation at Mapping Inequality by the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab.

These grades were a tool for redlining: making it difficult or impossible for people in certain areas to access mortgage financing and thus become homeowners. Redlining directed both public and private capital to native-born white families and away from African American and immigrant families. As homeownership was arguably the most significant means of intergenerational wealth building in the United States in the twentieth century, these redlining practices from eight decades ago had long-term effects in creating wealth inequalities that we still see today.

(via @masonadams)