• Welcome to the JHU Politik!

    Weekly Coverage on the Hopkins Campus, in Baltimore, and Beyond!

  • Back in Baltimore in 1910, a shameful Yale law school grad bought a house in a formerly all-white neighborhood. The Baltimore city authorities responded by embracing a residential segregation ordinance, restricting African Americans to designated cubes. Explaining the coverage, Baltimore's mayor proclaimed,"Blacks ought to be quarantined in isolated slums to be able to decrease the prevalence of civil disturbance, to avoid the spread of communicable disease to the neighboring White areas, and to protect land values one of the White majority."

    Thus started a century of national, state, and local policies to quarantine Baltimore's black inhabitants in isolated slums--policies which continue into the present day, as national housing subsidy policies nevertheless direct low-income black households to segregated neighborhoods and from middle class suburbs.

    Whenever young black guys riot in response to police brutality or murder, even because they've performed in Baltimore this week, we are tempted to believe we could tackle the issue by enhancing authorities grade --coaching officers to not use excess force, implementing community policing, supporting authorities to become sensitive, banning racial profiling, etc. However, such suggestions ignore the apparent reality that the protests aren't actually (or mostly ) about policing.

    In 1968, after countless similar riots nationally, a commission appointed by President Lyndon Johnson reasoned that"[o]ur country is moving toward two societies, one black, one white--separate and unequal" and that"[s]egregation and poverty have generated from the racial ghetto a damaging environment entirely unknown to the majority of white Americans."

    In the past 50 decades, both societies have become more unequal. Though a comparatively small black middle class was allowed to incorporate itself into mainstream America, people left behind are more segregated now than they had been in 1968.

    Whenever the Kerner Commission blamed"white culture" and"white associations," it used euphemisms to avoid naming the offenders everyone understood at the moment. It wasn't an obscure white society which made ghettos but government--national, state, and local--who used explicitly racial laws, regulations, and regulations to make sure that black Americans would reside impoverished, and independently from whites. Baltimore's ghetto wasn't made by private pensions, income gaps, personal tastes, or demographic tendencies, but by deliberate actions of authorities in violation of the Fifth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments. These constitutional violations haven't been mended, and we're paying the price from the violence we watched this week.

    Adhering to the police killing of Michael Brown at Ferguson, Missouri, last August, I wrote The Making of Ferguson, a report on this state-sponsored segregation in St. Louis County which set the platform for police-community hostility there. Virtually each of the racially explicit national, state, and local policies of segregation chased in St. Louis includes a parallel in legislation pursued by government in Baltimore.

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