racism wrecks cities

Racial discrimination is one of the root causes of inner city poverty. Cities are facing declines in safety, real estate value, funding, and education standards. These problems are linked to the issue of racial discrimination. The historical and current practices of redlining have prevented minority groups from living and working in the wealthier districts of cities. This has led to a widely held stereotype that inner city neighborhoods are full of lazy, violent, uneducated minorities. This stereotype has fueled the flight of businesses to outlying suburban areas and wealthy urban districts, further perpetuating the poverty cycle that affects the minority groups living in inner city neighborhoods. The declines facing cities are a direct result of this cycle.

White flight has created vastly segregated schools. Suburban schools are home to middle-class, mostly white students, whereas inner city schools teach mostly poor minority students. The suburbs are able to better provide technology and other educational and extracurricular needs to their students because the tax-based funding is supported by middle-income (wealthier) people. Inner city schools have a poor tax-base and are unable to provide quality education to their students. Inner city schools are less likely to have special programs for gifted and disabled students, have less equipped libraries, have poorer-quality arts and music programs, and lack small class sizes.

Funding is one of the biggest problems facing city governments. The federal government has not been adequately funding the infrastructure-maintenance budget. The result of this is terribly low-quality or unrepaired urban infrastructure. The effects of this are felt in many areas, including sewer systems, bridges, highways, roads, and public transportation. This poses a threat to inner-city residents as they drive on less-than-ideal roads and use dangerous, outdated public transportation systems. Furthermore, overuse of personal vehicles has created a haze of air pollution in many cities that compromises the respiratory health of many urban residents. Hazardous waste has been illegally dumped in urban communities, with a disproportionate amount found in minority neighborhoods.

The effects of suburbanization are dangerous to people’s health and well-being. Suburbanization leads to increased environmental pollution, thus threatening groundwater, soil quality, and air quality. Suburbanization also leads to a rearranging of rivers and streams, changing the natural landscape and compromising local wildlife and habitats. This affects people’s health and lifespan by creating unnecessary health effects and unsafe environments. Suburbanization also disadvantages the financial health of city governments, thus taking away funds necessary to support social service programs. A lack of these programs and a lack of funding for the public sector housing market directly cause homelessness and poverty, obvious factors of premature death. The poor are unable to buy themselves adequate healthcare, and when social service programs are being cut, the sick are the ones who suffer.

Other health problems attack urban residents much more often than suburban or rural residents. These health problems include tuberculosis, polio, AIDS, and whooping cough. Infant mortality rates are also higher in cities. The poor are unable to afford doctor visits and hospital fees, and this prevents them from getting treatment until it is absolutely necessary, by which point the cost-of-care is even higher, adding to the financial burden weighing down already-burdened public hospitals. This leads to even less funding available for programs such as rehabilitation, obstetrical care, and trauma units, which means that even more health concerns will go untreated.

Suburbanization also disadvantages the financial health of city governments, thus taking away funds necessary to support social service programs. A lack of these programs and a lack of funding for the public sector housing market directly cause homelessness and poverty, obvious factors of premature death. The poor are unable to buy themselves adequate healthcare, and when social service programs are being cut by Trump’s administration, the sick are the ones who suffer.

Fear allows for the cycle of poverty to continue. Fear of certain racial or ethnic groups keeps investors from moving to or locating in the city. This creates an ever-more desperate state of poverty for inner city residents, as business opportunities and wealth continue to flow to outlying suburbs, away from the inner city poor who are most in need of better-paying jobs. Overcoming ignorance is the solution to overcoming fear. People are afraid of what/who they do not know, and by becoming familiar with other cultures, people are able to overcome their fear and embrace differences. I can testify to the power of this step, as my love for the city has only grown out of volunteer experiences that have allowed me to rub elbows with people from extremely different backgrounds, social classes, ethnicities, and cultures.

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