Issue Of The Week LII: Do You Think Urban Apartheid Exists In America?

April 1, 2013
Written by The Associated Press in
National Collegiate Dialogue
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Residents in poor urban neighborhoods suffer higher rates of child poverty, unemployment, home foreclosures, crime, asthma, diabetes, and high blood pressure than those living in non-poor neighborhoods, the NAACP said. Photo Credit: Reuters

Editor’s Note: The disparities between minorities in urban neighborhoods and whites in suburban neighborhoods are highlighted time, and time again; for decades in one report or the other, by one politician or the other, numerous community activists, and human and civil rights leaders. The most recent attention is the article about “urban apartheid” conditions in New Haven, Connecticut as reported below by the Associated Press.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - New Haven-area minorities in low-income, urban neighborhoods are segregated from suburban whites who have much higher incomes, better school test scores, and superior health insurance, according to a new report from the local NAACP chapter titled "Urban Apartheid."

Leaders of the Greater New Haven Branch of the NAACP called on the White House and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to create federal and state commissions to review legislation and policies that contribute to urban-suburban inequalities and make recommendations to address them.

"There are significant, overwhelming, and unaddressed inequities within our broader metropolitan area that continue to undermine the social fabric of our communities," branch President James Rawlings wrote in the report, released Mar. 28, 2013.

The NAACP cited Connecticut's achievement gap between poor and non-poor students, which is one of the highest in the country. White students in New Haven for example, score around 40 percentage points higher on third- and fourth-grade reading tests, than their black peers, the civil rights group said, citing state and national test scores.

The report also said 85 percent of residents in low-income city neighborhoods are minorities, compared with 34 percent in high-income neighborhoods.

Residents in poor urban neighborhoods suffer higher rates of child poverty, unemployment, home foreclosures, crime, asthma, diabetes, and high blood pressure than those living in non-poor neighborhoods, the NAACP said. Poor urban residents are also much less likely to own a home, earn college degrees, or have any form of health insurance.

"We have to engage the best of our urban and suburban planners, our entrepreneurs, our teachers, our clergy, and other professionals, plus our official and unofficial leaders to take control of our collective community and ensure prosperity for all residents, not only those able to afford moving to wealthier, safer neighborhoods, and outer suburbs and towns," Rawlings wrote.

The document was named after the apartheid racial segregation policy in South Africa that ended in the 1990s. NAACP officials said they added "Urban Apartheid" to the rest of the title, "A Report on the Status of Minority Affairs in the Greater New Haven Area," after seeing how glaring the region's racial inequalities were.

What do you think? 


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

National Collegiate Dialogue


Housing Discrimination

Submitted by UCCS-S2013-29 on

I am encouraged by the NAACP's action to create change in the housing discrimination that still exists throughout the country. I think that Urban Apartheid does exist in the country today and that it is a covert type of color-blind racism. In her book White-Blindness: The Dominant Group Experience Ashley Doane states, "We all live in predominantly white neighborhoods, work in predominantly white workplaces, and move in a largely white social environment. Our intergroup interactions are largely on "home fields", and we generally have the option of becoming involved or not in the racial issues of our community and our society". I found this to be a very true statement that housing segregation is a very real problem that often goes unnoticed by the majority of white people because they never have any reason to visit those parts of town. It is important that the ideas of Urban Apartheid are expressed so that more people can come to understand the very real segregation that still exists all around us.


Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-30 on

I think it is pretty crazy how money dictates so much of our lives, so much so that it directly influences our livelihood. Marx claims that money is the real source of racism as it works as a blinder to create false ideas of sense of differentness and "the other" is created. If we fight over our different races than we won't see what we have in common, oppression from the wealthy. The point being though, that housing discrimination is happening but on it's own in a way. Money determines where you live and because people of color are often disadvantaged from the start they will be segregated "on their own" so to speak, based on money rather than flat out racism. I agree with you and like your post and inclusion of the quote.

I can understand the

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-16 on

I can understand the sentiment behind Urban Apartheid, but I think it is a situation that cannot be easily remedied. The biggest hindrance to the children of poor families attending better schools is the income, but how can you easily fix income disparities? Also, the people most likely to fix these situations are privileged, so the first task must be to make them aware of their innate privileges, due to skin color, sexual, preference, religious preference, etc.

I think one way to remedy

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-8 on

I think one way to remedy large disparities in income is to provide resources for lower income families to provide them with the skills necessary to get ahead in the workplace. For example, I know of a program that provides women with suits and business attire, teaches them how to give a good interview, and helps them write resumes and apply for jobs. These types of programs make a huge difference in preparing people for better job placement.

Assistance programs

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-41 on

I agree that there are a lot of useful programs that can help through resources to train and assist with work searches; however, I do not think that these types of programs are sufficient to change the large disparities in income. As we have discussed you cannot build skills when there is no foundation. In work search programs you have to have basic skills; reading, writing, computers.....most of those who live in urban areas do not have these basic skills, some have never worked. Another huge factor is many of these types of programs are federally funded or receive government grants and with the economic conditions being what they are the funding is likely to run dry.

You said what I was thinking

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-32 on

You said what I was thinking but couldn't figure out how to put into words. I see the disparities in income, education, and health, but how are we supposed to fix it all? If someone doesn't have the money to pay for something, how are we expected to give it to them? The only suggestion I can offer is to restructure schools in low income areas so that maybe those children will grow up and be encouraged to go to college. Then perhaps they will have a higher paying job and will be able to afford a better life for their own family.

Urban Apartheid? Yes

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-36 on

Yes, I do believe that urban apartheid exists here in the United States. I believe that much of it continues to exist because it has become so much more covert than it used to be. One must step into the shoes of the people living in the urban areas to see it more clearly. Honestly, I think that a great start to equalizing the playing field begins at school. We have fallen back into separate and unequal schools. The schools in these urban areas receive FAR less funding than those in the more affluent neighborhoods. How about we educate everyone the same? I realize that these children do not start out on the same level at birth and it will require more effort to get them there, but I do believe we have to start somewhere. Likely, it will take a few generations, but I believe we could make a difference. Over time the gap at birth will begin to close. Of course, this is only one aspect of the issue, but, again, we HAVE to start somewhere.


Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-30 on

There is a clear trickle down effect happening. Poor education leads to poor living standards (health and so on) or poor job opportunities and therefore a cycle begins. One generation of poor systematically oppressed people begets another and another and so on. The systems create these problems. Of course there is separation because where you live as a child correlates to your education, access to resources and the amount of potential success you will have as an adult. Growing up poor is not a guaranteed sentence to failure of a poor standard of living as an adult but it certainly is a factor and large predictor. If you are not well educated and live in an area with limited resources chances are you will remain there and then raise your family there. Systems of inequality. A more equitable distribution of resources (education perhaps one of the most important) would aid in reaching a solution, as the article notes.


Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-6 on

I appreciate that you singled out a solution to this cycle, even if it was something aforementioned. I'm sometimes so blinded by trying to understand and become aware of the complexities of the system that I forgot about the complexities of change.

I can't say with any certainty what the 'right' resolution is, but I have to ask. If resources are distributed equally amongst individuals regardless of effort, why would anyone put any effort into, well, anything? That
s my greatest concern.

Urban Apartheid

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-41 on

I without a doubt think that urban apartheid exists in the United States. This is just one of numerous articles emphasizing this systematic problem that we see daily. I don’t mean to seem brash but this is nothing new and not surprising. At this juncture in time with the economic crisis in the United States and the recent sequester that was imposed none of these issues are at the forefront of any political agendas. To single out one community for reform would only result in increased social problems throughout the rest of the country. One of the main points that was emphasized in this article was that of the disparities in the education that urban minorities receive in comparison to suburban whites. These are the same disparities that Kozol spoke of in his interview regarding the educational system nationwide for urban youth. This is not an issue in my opinion that is likely to ever be remedied. As long as there are socio-economic classes there will be a distinct separation resulting in benefits and disadvantages.

Well said!

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-4 on

I agree with you on all fronts, this continues to be an issue of socio-economics. The rich benefit from better health, better environment and in the case of schools, far better education. This becomes clearer the further down the totem pole we descend. Unfortunately, poor black neighborhoods get the worst of it in many cases. Health plays a pivotal role in the cognitive developments of children and the article touches upon the vast differences in health problems in the different neighborhoods. We must look at racial factors but likewise I believe that this is a problem of affluence and disparity. How do we make better people across the board, not only in rich white neighborhoods.

I agree with this post and

Submitted by UCCS-S2013-19 on

I agree with this post and some of the comments that urban apartheid exists, and that it has been a major issue of our systems. There is inequality everywhere, in everything, but because of someone's color (which is usually the case), it should not be up to our institutions to decide the life chances. Sadly, this is how it is. As someone has mentioned, once you grow up in a poor neighborhood, you end up with poor education, then low paying jobs. The cycle keeps going and it is hard to stop it. As the article has said that those minorities that live in poor neighborhoods don't get as good of health insurance as the financially stable individuals, they don't have good health or good health care to live with. I do believe however, that there is a possible change for the better. I believe that the first step is to recognize these issues, the power of institutions and their racism. I also believe that education is very important, and through a bigger effort, it can be achieved for the schools in poor neighborhoods. Society's attitude as a whole is in need for change. These issues will take work but it can only get better with patience, effort, and motivation. It has to be a little by little, step by step progress.

Cycle; Not Unexpected

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-6 on

This is a perfect example of how intersections of our primary statuses influence our lives. Racial minority status along with a lower SES creates an intersection that creates a cycle of "low" regarding wealth, education, living conditions, and I can only assume that it influences an individual's self esteem.

In essentially every comment I make I preach the importance of awareness. I do this for a reason. If I include the importance of awareness in each and every one of my comments what am I doing? I'm further increasing awareness of something. In a way it's metaawareness. (I just invented that word) It means that we need to be aware of the importance of awareness. It's the first step to change, but the second step is when you choose to take action (or not).

Rather than using the word "cycle" one of my fellow classmates called it a "system", and perhaps a system would be more appropriate. It's a system that's organized in such a way that it can run on it's own, but in order to run with greater efficiency outside help is necessary. We are that outside help. We are the ones that can take our new awareness and take action.

It would be interesting to write a combined paper including both this and a former conversation regarding the role of white leaders. I think working towards helping this "system" would be a great role for them.