We can talk about the dire need for solutions to gun control and the growing influence of white supremacy in America. However, we must also talk about the generational influence of segregated cities, large and small, in America in 2022 and its damaging impact on Black communities.
Racial segregation was achieved by white elected officials in government in America. This historical abomination needs to be reexamined because much of it resides in a racist core. But the roots of racism in America include many other factors.
America Is Filled With Racially Segregated Cities
Buffalo is not the only segregated city in America. According to a 2019 report by the Othering and Belonging Institute at the University of California-Berkeley, some of the most segregated cities in America include Detroit, Chicago, Newark, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Boston, Birmingham, Dallas, St. Louis, Miami, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Oakland, Houston, Irvine, Memphis, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, and New York City, to name just a few.
Food Deserts in Cities Are Nutritional Slavery
Sadly, many of these cities still have food deserts in most poor neighborhoods of color, especially Black neighborhoods. Why is this significant? The lack of public access to major supermarkets, fresh vegetables, and fresh fruit within Black communities is part of what I consider nutritional slavery and further segregation. Food, a major necessity for all people, is nowhere near being fair and equitable in Black communities nationwide compared to white neighborhoods.
Highways and Railways Are Designed to Separate
Many of these other side-of-the-track communities are still part of racist and prejudiced urban planning models going back several generations in America. Many are segregated by highways and railways, which were designed to separate white people from Black people. In fact, many of the highways and railways literally ran straight through many Black communities in America, and they still do in 2022.
Why is this racist history so important, and what are some viable solutions for change?
1. Design Digital, Gorgeous Mosaic Cities
There should not be a white community and a Black or immigrant community in these major cities. We need every section of our cities to be diverse and inclusive, where we live among each other instead of running from each other. To achieve this, we need major urban planning to redesign cities with true diversity and inclusion for ALL.
Segregated cities are in crisis in America. The urban planning solution also needs to include digital cities, which encourage remote and virtual work for ALL. To do so, it must include fair housing for ALL, not just a few. Not segregated by economics, but designed to include all people of all backgrounds, including proper childcare, fair housing policies, good-paying jobs, public safety, and public education for ALL. A gorgeous mosaic, as former New York City Mayor David Dinkins used to say, but now a digital, gorgeous mosaic in every city in America.
2. Police Must Live in the Communities They Serve
The police are not the answer to all crises and issues in America. We don’t need to defund the police. We need to allow the police to do their jobs and nothing more. They should not be social workers, mental health specialists, or family counselors, but we need all of these professionals to work seamlessly together and properly fund them ALL. We also need police officers actually to live in the communities in which they serve. We need new laws to achieve these important criteria.
3. More Supermarkets Will End Nutritional Slavery
Every community needs several supermarkets, not just one, to provide equal access to groceries of all types and also to drive down prices with economic competitiveness. This is what economic development within cities should have as a must for ALL of its constituents.
For example, in Buffalo, New York’s East Side, the site of the recent shooting, the Tops supermarket is the only major supermarket in this Black community. It has only been there since 2003. That is horrible.
Black residents fought to get it for many, many years. It is the only supermarket within walking distance of many local residents. When Tops first arrived, the goal of the economic development divisions of the city and state should have been to immediately seek to bring more major supermarkets into the community.
In my opinion, tokenism only leads to further problems and higher prices. A true solution always thinks deeply from the community’s perspective, not just what is politically sufficient. Sadly, as the investigation for the recent shooting continues, Tops is now temporarily closed, leaving local Black residents with no major supermarket. This is a further example of inequality, prejudice, and racism because many believe this would never happen in a white community in America.
America’s cities are in crisis, and to find the solution, we need to be more honest about our racist past. We also must seek to bring the same basic human needs, including public safety, healthy food options, fair housing, good jobs, and more, to ALL citizens in America. Why? Because the American dream should not be to move away from what many whites in America still consider as other. The American dream should be to passionately live together in truly diverse and inclusive cities, side by side, as a gorgeous mosaic, not as “others.”
Mike Paul is president of Reputation Doctor® LLC, a leading crisis public relations and reputation management firm based in NY with global clients. He is also global anchor and executive producer of Reputation In Crisis – The Show, a digital crisis news program on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify.