Bob Katrin’s Feb. 27 Point of View “The travesty of a town’s one-sided development” on Southern Pines was a poignant reminder of the continuing legacy of residential segregation and racial exclusion.
The UNC Center for Civil Rights focuses on the divisive boundaries of race and place, and on the impacts of the structural discrimination on excluded communities. These include lack of infrastructure, segregative school district policies, the siting of environmentally hazardous land uses, substandard housing and restrictions on political participation. These manifestations of exclusion not only adversely affect the quality of life in marginalized communities, they also isolate the people who live there. These neighborhoods are less likely to attract new residents or the resources necessary to improve conditions, which in turn increases their vulnerability to continued neglect.
Supposedly “racially neutral” political decisions about zoning, schools or economic development entrench the legacy of segregation that underlies this exclusion. As Southern Pines considered closing the only public pool in an African-American neighborhood, the focus was cost, not the lack of recreational opportunities for kids in West Southern Pines, or access to other facilities in the community, or even the value of improving this public resource so it becomes an asset for all of Southern Pines, thereby creating a more inclusive community.
Managing attorney, UNC Center for Civil Rights