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Copyright (c) 1994 St. John's University
St. John's Journal of Legal Commentary

SYMPOSIUM: THE LEGACY OF AMERICAN APARTHEID AND ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM

SPRING, 1994

9 St. John's J.L. Comm. 445

Author

Dr. Robert D. Bullard*

Excerpt





In the real world, some communities are located on the "wrong side of the tracks" and, as a result, receive different treatment. Where one lives can affect one's educational opportunity, quality of life, access to health care, and exposure to environmental threats. Discrimination is a chief cause of social, economic, and environmental inequities that exist in the larger society. Moreover, racial discrimination limits mobility, reduces neighborhood and residential options, diminishes job opportunities, and subjects millions of Americans to environmental and health threats. 1

This article examines the impact of housing discrimination and residential patterns, land use practices, and environmental decision making on the quality of life in communities of color.



I. Apartheid American Style

Residential apartheid is the dominant housing pattern for most African Americans - the most racially segregated group in the United States - and other people of color. Nowhere is this separate-society contrast more apparent than in the nation's large metropolitan areas. Residential apartheid did not result from some impersonal super-structural process. White racism created American apartheid. Historically, racism has been and continues to be a "conspicuous part of the American sociopolitical system, and as a result, black people in particular, and ethnic and racial minority groups of color, find themselves at a disadvantage in contemporary society." 2 Racial patterns of cities were "caused" by an array of actors - white slaveholders, merchants, and shippers of the early period; and the white business elites, politicians, and workers in the periods since slavery.

White racism ...
 
 
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