In 1951, my parents bought and moved to a house in Levittown, New York. They were able to move from their working class, Jewish immigrant neighborhood in Brooklyn to the suburbs because banks were offering returning WWII veterans federally guaranteed, zero-down-payment, low-interest mortgages on inexpensive single-family homes, and most importantly, Jews (of European ancestry) after the war were considered “white.” My mother (19 years old) and father (26 years old) had both had graduated high school, but neither had much work experience or job security, and they had virtually no savings or access to family financial resources. Yet somehow, they could qualify for a home mortgage in a newly developing and desirable suburb of New York City.
A friend of my maternal grandfather, Kenneth Cunningham, a black Brooklyn police officer and his wife (a teacher with a college degree) also wanted to buy a home in Levittown around that time. But the builder would not sell to blacks. When my mother learned of this policy, she organized a petition drive and went door-to-door to ask her neighbors to join her in pressuring Levitt to sell to blacks. A few neighbors supported her efforts, but most either accused her of being a communist or were indifferent to her efforts. Levittown was never integrated, and we now know that the builder’s practices and my mother’s neighbors were only part of the problem. Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law shows how government policies and programs were designed at that time to create exclusive, white suburbs, and to keep blacks in inner city, racially homogeneous and relatively isolated areas. In short, if the builder had wanted to sell to blacks, he would have lost all government subsidies for his housing development (without which the construction of roughly 17,000 homes would probably have been impossible), and prospective buyers would not have been able to get the kinds of bank loans my parents got if Levittown had become integrated.1
Although U.S. cities and suburbs are more diverse today, neighborhood segregation persists and African Americans continue to be more segregated than other groups.2 Segregation contributes substantially to ongoing race-based inequalities of income and wealth, educational and job opportunities, health outcomes, and to the maintenance of concentrated areas of poverty, violence, and environmental destruction. For the civil rights generation, the main solution to segregation has been to promote racial integration in schooling, employment, and housing, through a variety of affirmative action programs, including race-conscious school assignment, preferential hiring, and subsidized housing. Most of these programs have been largely unsuccessful in achieving economic and social parity or ending racial discrimination, and have engendered enormous resentment and resistance from whites and other historically advantaged social groups.
In light of the failures of integration efforts of the past, several political philosophers have offered critiques of the integration paradigm of racial justice, especially with respect to ending residential segregation. These philosophers acknowledge that segregation has harmed black families and communities in substantial and lasting ways, but yet do not support affirmative action programs that aim to integrate exclusive white communities. In this paper, I will confront the concerns of these critics, and consider the anti-assimilationist and pluralist ideals they propose for rectifying the harms of residential segregation. I will argue that ending black hypersegregation3 should be viewed as a means to a more racially inclusive society, not a byproduct. While some desegregation programs may be poorly designed or funded, I argue for more forcefully subverting the mechanisms that replicate patterns of black/white segregation.
Toward this end, I argue for continuing and increasing support for affirmative action efforts such as housing vouchers, and consider some proposals for tax reform that would discourage ongoing discrimination in renting and buying homes. I also consider proposals for integrating private organizations and communities, such as exclusive white churches. Some social theorists have recently argued for the importance of social networks in providing access to educational and employment opportunities, and faith communities play an important role in building or inhibiting diverse social networks.
2. The Ideal of Integration
Iris Young identifies four main problems with the goal of residential integration. First, housing integration programs are disruptive to the lives of the excluded group while leaving “the dominant group relatively undisturbed.”4 Integration programs typically involve moving a small number of blacks into predominantly white neighborhoods where they are expected to assimilate to the norms of the dominant group. Second, “the ideal of integration rejects the validity of people’s desires to live and associate with others for whom they feel particular affinity.”5 According to Young, people often want to live among their own kind, in regard to race, ethnicity, religion, language, and so on. Young believes there is nothing wrong with such clustering, especially when “its purpose is mutual aid and culture-building… as long as this process of clustering does not exclude some people from access to benefits and opportunities.”6 Third, integration is “likely to meet with resistance and failure, and when it fails, the fault seems to lie with the segregated group.”7 In reality, integration projects are likely to fail because too few resources are made available for them and because, according to Young, even members of the dominant group who support these efforts will continue to engage in exclusionary behaviors and then blame the subordinate group for failing to integrate on the terms offered. Fourth, integration focuses on the wrong issue, which is “that groups are spatially and institutionally distinguishable, and the remedy is spatial and institutional mixing in proper proportions.”8 The wrong of segregation, according to Young, is not that groups are spatially distinguishable (i.e., separated), but that the process of segregation creates material disadvantages for the segregated group. Integration efforts, then, alleviate these material disadvantages for only a few individuals at a time, and sometimes make these individuals worse off by “removing individuals from their sources of solidarity and isolating them, further disempowering them.”9 Integration programs do little to improve the material conditions for the majority living in segregated neighborhoods.
Tommie Shelby builds upon Young’s critique of the integration ideal. He argues that “residential integration is not a requirement of corrective justice and should not be viewed as a solution to ghetto poverty.”10 Relocating to predominantly white neighborhoods imposes burdens on black residents, such as greater exposure to racist hostility and violence, along with the loss of networks of mutual support. Moreover, because few whites will live in neighborhoods in which blacks have a substantial presence, a fully integrated society would weaken black cultural institutions and political solidarity in that it ultimately involves relatively small numbers of blacks being dispersed among whites. Shelby defends the moral choice of blacks to self-segregate, especially in our current national environment, and they do not have an obligation to move in order to achieve the aims of integration.11 Although having black neighbors may be good for many whites in terms of challenging their racist assumptions, Shelby argues that this does not justify imposing serious costs on those who are already disadvantaged. He is skeptical that living in the same neighborhood will be sufficient to produce meaningful and cooperative interracial relationships.12 Given the likely class differences between relocated low-income blacks and their new more affluent white neighbors, people from different racial groups may still avoid contact with one another.13
Of course, Young and Shelby both oppose policies and practices that create and maintain segregated communities. Young writes, “Processes of segregation…exacerbate class differences of income, education, and skill to produce racially structured differences in privilege and opportunity. These structures in turn reinforce racial discrimination by creating less desirable places associated with the subordinate group. These places themselves are racially marked by the dominant society as unworthy, and those who live there are held responsible for the physical neglect of their environment.”14 White citizens are often unaware of how black communities are devastated by the practices of redlining, which involves the denial of mortgages and business investments in particular neighborhoods because they are deemed high risk, which then ensures that such places become areas of neglect and deterioration. Moreover, environmental racism (e.g., locating unattractive infrastructure near or through black neighborhoods, such as noisy and polluting highways and factories, or locating low-income housing projects in struggling neighborhoods in ways that concentrate poverty) contributes to turning black neighborhoods into spaces of poverty. The devastating long-term effects on the health and wealth of residents in segregated black communities have been well documented, and is the source of much of the racial tensions we see today.
While Young and Shelby recognize the harms and structural injustices involved in forced segregation, they also oppose what they see as coercive integration programs, which fail to take account of group interests and identities. Young offers “an alternative ideal differentiated solidarity,” which
holds that segregation is wrong, but that social group distinction is not wrong. The ideal affirms a freedom to cluster, both in urban space and in religious, cultural and other affinity group associations. This freedom should be balanced with a commitment to non-discrimination; spatial and social clustering, that is, cannot be based on acts of exclusion, but rather on affinity attraction.
…The freedom to cluster should also be paired with an openness to unassimilated otherness…15
One problem Young sees with current residential integration efforts is they try to improve lives by helping one individual or family at a time. In this way, they fail to recognize our relational interests and group rights. Our lives improve when the lives of those with whom we share social identities also improve, and when we can fully participate in a democracy without having to shed our ethnic and other identities.
Shelby introduces an “egalitarian pluralist” alternative to the integrationist model of racial justice.16 Egalitarian pluralists support “ghetto abolitionism,” but not the destruction of black communities. Instead, Shelby advocates “fundamental reform of the basic structure of our society,” so that poor communities get the resources they deserve and need. Shelby argues that the freedom to cluster or self-segregate, for oppressed groups, enables their members to maintain protective and supportive living environments, and autonomous and creative cultural spaces, and to form bonds of social and political solidarity. However, Shelby writes “I offer no new political strategies or policy proposals. Others are better equipped for those tasks. What I have offered is a defense of a set of values and principles that should inform the next ghetto abolition movement… Ghetto abolitionism, when viewed within the systemic-injustice framework and in accordance with liberal-egalitarian principles, would aid more than just the ghetto poor.”17 Infusing poor communities with greater resources is a worthy goal, but Shelby does not analyze the practices that perpetuate the poverty of these communities, such as redlining or the tax policies that allow affluent communities to hoard resources. Below I will consider some proposals for changing these practices.
Shelby focuses on “what the unjustly disadvantaged are morally required and permitted to do in response to the unjust conditions that circumscribe their lives,” and in this respect he defends the choice to self-segregate rather take part in integration programs.18 I will contend that, in regard to the issue of integration, we need to focus on another issue. We should focus not merely on “what the unjustly disadvantaged are morally required and permitted to do in response to unjust conditions,” but also on what the unjustly advantaged are morally required to do in response to ongoing systemic forms of racial discrimination from which they benefit. By focusing on this question, then perhaps we can see the way toward strategies and policy proposals for change. While Shelby feels unqualified to outline these strategies, I will urge those who are working to understand the systemic injustices that continue in our society, and who are also committed to egalitarian principles of justice and pluralistic forms of democratic inclusion, to creatively engage with others to devise better policies.
Residential integration efforts have historically been about expanding housing choice for blacks and other racialized minorities, and removing restrictive policies that leave them with few choices about where to live. They are not, as Shelby or Young imagines, aimed at requiring or coercing blacks to relocate when they can. Some people may prefer to cluster with members of their ethnic or racial group, and some may prefer to move into white neighborhoods with a history of exclusionary policies. Moreover, Young wrongly asserts that “In an ideally integrated city, no neighborhood would be dominated by a minority group, nor would any neighbourhood be inhabited exclusively by a majority group. Instead, each neighbourhood would contain people of different groups in rough proportion to their incidence in the general population.”19 Shelby echoes this assumption when he identifies the basic components of “the new integrationist vision”: “According to this view, each neighborhood (or almost every neighborhood) should contain people from different racial groups in rough proportion to their presence in the region.”20 This is a bizarrely abstract and formalized way to represent the goals of the “new integrationists” (as Shelby labels them) and it unfortunately mischaracterizes the objectives of residential integration. If Young and Shelby were correct, then every neighborhood in a fully integrated society would be dominated by the majority group of a society (because, by definition, the majority outnumbers the others), and this then would increase the pressure on minority groups to assimilate to the norms of the dominant group. While such mathematical balancing was used in some school integration plans (i.e., to force school integration), it has not generally been part of residential integration programs.21
The main goal of integrationists has been to understand, stop, and reform the policies and practices that make it impossible for blacks and other racial minorities to have the same residential (or school) choices afforded to those with white social and class advantages. It has never been the goal of integrationists to direct the choices of blacks, once they genuinely have choices, until all neighborhoods are “ideally integrated” according to Young’s overly simplified formal model. At most, we might expect that, when people who have been racially stigmatized face the same set of constraints as whites about where to live (income, work opportunities, transportation options, etc.), fewer neighborhoods would be exclusively white, and eventually more whites might choose to live in “black neighborhoods,” i.e., neighborhoods with a higher proportion of blacks than in the general population, and with strong black-owned or black-identified cultural institutions and businesses. This pattern would be perfectly fine for integrationists, rather than the mathematically balanced proportions Young assumes.
Removing racially discriminatory housing policies and practices in government housing programs, the mortgage and real estate industries, and in private renting and home sales (as the 1968 Fair Housing Act was supposed to do) is not enough to provide blacks with the housing choices of those who enjoy the social and economic advantages of whiteness.22 Due to the history of segregating blacks into poor and blighted communities, blacks now face many class barriers when it comes to exercising housing choice. The historian Richard Rothstein writes “You might expect that the ratio of black to white household wealth would be similar [to the 60 percent income ratio]. But the median white household wealth (assets minus liabilities) is about $134,000, while median black household wealth is about $11,000—less than 10 percent as much. Not all of this enormous difference is attributable to the government’s racial housing policy, but a good portion of it certainly is.”23 To rectify these past harms and injustices, integrationists support programs such as housing vouchers and governmental incentives to build affordable housing in exclusive and relatively wealthy white communities. These are the sort of “move-to-opportunity” programs that Young and Shelby oppose, because they help only a few of those who are economically disadvantaged without helping the majority of those living in hypersegregated poor communities. This is a valid criticism, and pro-integrationists need to find ways to increase budgets for voucher programs (the vast majority who qualify and are on waiting lists don’t receive them24) in order to expand the residential choices of a greater number of disadvantaged people, and also to add more affordable housing units in ways that do not further the agendas of racial segregationists.25 In addition, integrationists (and egalitarian pluralists) need to focus on programs that will address the living conditions and problems of isolated and blighted minority-majority neighborhoods. Residents in these communities need to be empowered to lead and guide these efforts, and resources need to be made available so that they are able to carry out their solutions. Young and Shelby favor the latter kinds of efforts over the former,26 but there is really no need to only pursue one kind of effort to address the deplorable legacy of racial segregation.
It’s hard to win political support for any of these efforts, in part because many people in the U.S. are not aware of their government’s role over many decades (at all levels of government) in creating the exclusive white suburbs and inner-city ghettos that we see today.27 Also, those who benefit from the legacy of segregation and who enjoy the advantages of white status when it comes to residential choice (stable and increasing property values, decent public and private amenities, safe streets, etc.) often fear that they will lose these economic advantages and social goods. So, as Young notes, even supporters of integration overlook how voucher programs are inadequately funded, and those less supportive typically fight to keep subsidized housing developments out of their neighborhoods. While diverting more public resources for community-led and designed improvement projects in poor neighborhoods may be more appropriate, helpful, and justified in some cases, winning public support for these programs will also be an uphill battle. It is incumbent upon social theorists who support the ideals of differentiated solidarity or egalitarian pluralism to provide more concrete details about the kinds of legal or policy changes that can make more resources available to marginalized communities. We need to have these concrete details so that we have a better idea of what adopting a different set of values and principles might mean in practice, and not just in theory, and whether actions guided by these ideals can effect change.28 Otherwise, these philosophical ideals will simply perpetuate the status quo.
For example, Rothstein (who endorses affirmative action toward integration) proposes that the mortgage interest deduction be used as leverage to force desegregation by withholding the deduction from homeowners in exclusive white neighborhoods until their communities take steps to desegregate (e.g., by modifying zoning codes or accepting mixed-income housing), and then returning the withheld deductions to those homeowners once their communities take such actions. He further proposes that the government buy houses for sale in exclusive neighborhoods and sell them to moderate-income black buyers at something closer to the cost (in today’s dollars) that my parents paid for their first home in Levittown.29 I would add to his proposals and suggest that tax-exempt entities (such as religious organizations) which join anti-integration efforts (e.g., by taking a stance against a governmental program or policy proposal intended to promote racial integration) lose their tax-exempt status, and that the recovered funds be diverted to support inclusive and affordable housing projects in these communities. Rothstein further proposes distributing tax credits to developers who build affordable and inclusive housing in high-opportunity neighborhoods.30
3. Segregation and Social Networks
Elizabeth Anderson examines how residential segregation perpetuates black disadvantage in the U.S., and also raises the issue of what those who benefit from ongoing housing discrimination are obligated to do to end such practices. Anderson argues that residential segregation keeps blacks from acquiring beneficial forms of human, social, cultural, and financial capital, and conversely allows whites to hoard goods and opportunities, and impose burdens on non-white communities. This situation is obviously unfair. It also perpetuates the stigmatization of blacks, because segregation keeps whites racially isolated and thus fails to challenge their explicit and implicit racial biases, and to make white elites accountable to all citizens. Furthermore, Anderson argues that “separate is not equal” because it creates an “untouchable social caste” and represents this caste as unfit for association on an equal basis with other citizens.31
To make elites (who are predominately white) accountable to all, Anderson argues that our government (at all levels) needs to take positive steps to ensure that entrenched patterns of racial segregation are not replicated in public institutions (e.g., public schools, government contracts and service). Moreover, she contends that, as private citizens, we are jointly responsible for making our society more just, and that each of us should contribute to efforts to integrate our communities. This involves promoting integration in our informal social networks, because much pernicious discrimination remains out of the reach of anti-discrimination policy. Anderson advocates expanding social interaction across different groups on terms of equality and respect, which can facilitate forms of sharing that promote cultural literacy and greater access to educational, employment, and housing opportunities. Like Young, Anderson argues that inclusive policies and practices are necessary for a healthy democracy.32
Like Shelby, Anderson recognizes that a neighborhood in which people co-exist within the same municipal borders is not genuinely integrated when there is little social contact across racial groups on equal terms. Similarly, if a person’s race correlates with one’s status in other domains in a particular community (e.g., a racially mixed neighborhood in which blacks are mostly live-in servants, or renters rather than owners), then it is not integrated in a just or egalitarian sense. While Anderson supports programs such as housing vouchers, government-subsidized affordable and integrated housing developments, and race-conscious school assignment, she recognizes that positive integration programs often meet with massive resistance from whites (e.g., busing) and therefore need to be feasible.33
Unlike Young, Anderson does not appear to regard “the freedom to cluster” as an important right, and her emphasis on enabling blacks to acquire the cultural and social capital wielded by the dominant group has opened her account to the criticism that it overlooks the harms of assimilation.34 For Anderson, residential clustering along racial or ethnic lines undermines forms of communication, trust, and accountability across groups that sustain democratic institutions and practices. Moreover, clustering creates conditions for resource hoarding by the more dominant group. Young and Shelby focus less on the consequences of the clustering of whites (or white group solidarity) and hold that we should respect the desire of minorities to cluster (which will soon include whites in the U.S.) and remain “unassimilated others,” while simultaneously resisting the forces that keep black neighborhoods impoverished. Both are more confident than Anderson that social and political ties and coalitions can be developed across ethnic groups despite physical separateness or diminished social interaction.
For Shelby, residential integration may eventually result when there is greater social and economic equality across racial groups, but it is not a necessary means to these ends.35 Shelby criticizes Anderson for suggesting that it is morally imperative for blacks (as well as whites) to take part in residential integration efforts when they can, because such efforts impose further burdens on people who are oppressed without any guarantee that they will bring net benefits to those who participate, or to blacks in general. Shelby maintains that increasing job and educational opportunities (economic integration) for those who face discrimination is not contingent on residential integration or expanding interracial social networks, and instead should come about through ending discriminatory employment and admission practices and better outreach into black communities (through advertising, public schools, etc.). Although there may be some truth in the expression “it’s who you know that counts,” access to opportunities should not depend on one’s social network, or on acquiring the cultural capital, tastes, habits, and communicatory practices of elites.36 Although Shelby emphasizes the value of intraracial networks (“bonding ties” as opposed to “bridging ties”) in building strong communities and expanding opportunities, and proposes fairer resource sharing between black and white communities, he stops short of explaining or describing the mechanisms of more just resource distributions.
Danielle Allen elaborates and adds nuance to the thesis that segregation is an obstacle to the development of critical social networks for members of disadvantaged groups, which then perpetuates gaps in education, health, and wealth.37 Allen writes,
Why does segregation have such profound effects? Common sense points the way to an explanation, which research has confirmed. All you have to do is think about what flows through social networks. At the most basic level, a human social network
is like a web of streams and rivulets through which language flows. As language flows it carries with it knowledge and skills. That knowledge can be of the sort we recognize in schools: knowledge about the world or history or politics or literature. Or it can be of a practical kind: which jobs are about to come open because someone is retiring; where a new factory is about to be built, bringing new opportunities to an area.38
First-generation college students, for example, often lack forms of practical knowledge that would enable them to negotiate the complexities of college and financial aid applications. This is not due to a lack of human capital or financial capital (compared to other college students) but to social capital. People who live in hypersegregated and economically disadvantaged communities are typically cut off from valuable information and skill building available to those who live in “high-opportunity neighborhoods.” Shelby conjectures that when more African Americans achieve educational and financial success, they may share their social and cultural capital with those who are less fortunate, especially if they remain in ghettoized communities or are willing to move into them.39 This may be true, but it seems to place a moral burden on successful African Americans not to move to “high opportunity” communities, when they can, or to move into low-income black neighborhoods.
Most African Americans do not have the choice to move into less segregated and higher opportunity neighborhoods, where they would have better access to high-performing public schools, and good public amenities and services, and where they could develop more empowered social networks. Even when they have the financial resources to do so, there are a number of obstacles. First, homeowners and landlords, as well as mortgage companies continue to discriminate against black buyers and renters in ways that are difficult to prove and prosecute.40 Second, black residents in predominantly white neighborhoods and cities, including children, face more racial profiling and harassment, and often public officials are part of the problem. Third, white communities have a perverse incentive to remain predominantly white in that many people associate the color of a neighborhood with good schools, adequate public safety, convenient transportation, nice parks, and good shopping, and generally, a high quality of life. This association boosts property values in these neighborhoods, which is an important way that whites increase their wealth.41 Remaining white-identified means limiting the number of families of color, and keeping out businesses or public amenities that might attract people of color, such as culturally diverse restaurants42 or subway stops. As one of my colleagues sadly observes, when she buys or moves into a stable or prosperous neighborhood, the property values around her go down, including the value of her own home.43
The legal theorist Richard Ford explains how our current property and business tax systems serve to replicate patterns of exclusion and economic inequality. Cities gain advantages when they keep out low-income, high-needs residents, such as increased housing and business investment, along with more property and business tax revenues, and lower social services costs. Ford suggests that we need to reverse the incentives that encourage cities to exclude low-income residents by not allowing cities to benefit from such practices.44 When cities get to keep most of their property and sales tax revenue, it then appears rational to try to attract high-income, low-needs residents. Such residents can invest in better housing and attract prosperous local businesses, which together significantly increase local property and sales tax revenues. Also, high-income, low-needs residents generally require less spending on public services. However, by keeping out low-income, high-needs residents, communities of wealth become islands surrounded by oceans of poverty and crime. Arguably, this is not the most rational or desirable arrangement from the perspectives of both wealth-island residents and our larger society. Therefore, we need to change the perverse incentives that create these residential patterns and economic inequalities. Ford’s proposals are similar to Rothstein’s, in that they aim to create financial disincentives for communities to remain exclusive in terms of class and race, and they identify tax revenues that could be used to support inclusive and affordable housing.45
Residential segregation remains in place today not through laws or official policies, but through racial fears and stereotypes, as well as class stratification, that have resulted from over a century of de jure (and not merely de facto) segregation (Rothstein). As both Rothstein and Ford propose, we need to change the perverse incentives that keep white communities exclusively white, and that limit housing choice for blacks, at most income levels. For example, another mechanism that enables white communities to hoard wealth is their ability to redraw their municipal boundaries or reincorporate as separate towns, leaving out economically and racially diverse neighborhoods near them, which then allows them to monopolize and control a larger tax-base.46 While we may not be able to rejoin these communities into one town, we can change the tax policies and incentives that reward white communities that are racially exclusive, as Rothstein and Ford suggest. Of course, such changes are possible in theory, but mobilizing the political will to change these perverse incentives in practice will be highly challenging.
If racial segregation perpetuates disadvantage by blocking the formation of empowered social networks, then we can address some of the harms of residential segregation through practices that expand the social networks of those who are racially stigmatized. Danielle Allen claims that research shows that “connected societies” have greater social equality.47 In these societies, people form and maintain important social bonds with people, not only within, but also outside their own social groups. The latter kind of social bonding is possibly an effect of social equality (especially if these relationships are nonhierarchical), but they also engender and sustain social equality. Societies in which people are segregated or socially isolated along one or more dimensions (gender, religion, race, etc.) typically reflect less social equality.
Allen’s analysis suggests that, if we want to promote social equality, then we need to engage in the kinds of policy and cultural work that enable people to develop “bridging ties,” while maintaining strong “bonding” ones with our social familiars. To do this, we need housing communities and places of employment where we encounter diverse people at all levels of social organization, and where people of different backgrounds interact on more equal terms. In other words, it’s not enough to put kids of different backgrounds together in same school, or families together in one neighborhood, governmental programs need to do this in ways that encourage people to regard each other as social equals, and that do not replicate patterns of domination and subordination. For example, any program that places low-income black children together with middle-income white ones needs to insure there are also black adults in positions of authority and control within those institutions or social contexts, according to Allen. In addition, rather than voucher programs which allow low-income blacks to rent apartments in higher-income white communities, government housing programs should refocus their efforts on increasing black home ownership in the ways that Rothstein suggests.
Moreover, the cultural work Allen suggests happens when individuals join organizations that are diverse, including political, community service, arts oriented, or recreational groups, and when people open their own groups and private networks to diverse members. In “Beyond Your Own Kind,” Anita Allen also encourages our undertaking such cultural work, and states, “If you are wondering whether you ought to make an effort to include people of other backgrounds into your circle of friends, your condominium association, your church, your children’s school, or your workplace, stop wondering and just do it. You are hearing the faint voice of a better self speaking above the conventional chatter.”48 Both policy and cultural efforts should be designed in ways that promote successful skills, capacities, habits, and knowledge for interacting respectfully with people across social divides. Desegregating our social networks, as Danielle Allen and Elizabeth Anderson propose, is something individuals can do, or small groups can organize, without mobilizing the kind of massive movement it would take to change how property taxes are distributed, or government housing subsidies are designed. In the next section I will consider the role of faith communities in preserving social networks that are racially segregated, and why grassroots integration efforts in this sphere could be helpful.
4. Bridging Ties and Faith Communities
In his book, The Last Segregated Hour: The Memphis Kneel-Ins and the Campaign for Southern Church Desegregation, Stephen Haynes recounts the history of organized efforts to integrate Christian churches in the 1960s.49 While many students of the civil rights movement are familiar with lunch counter sit-ins, bus boycotts, and black school children bravely entering white schools under police protection from angry white mobs, the kneel-in phenomenon has received less interest as a past or possibly future strategy for desegregation. Efforts to desegregate churches have waned, or at least have disappeared from public view, despite the fact that “eleven o’clock on Sunday morning is [still apparently] the most segregated hour in America.”50 Given the persistence of segregation in houses of worship, why have church desegregation actions been abandoned? And, would such desegregation efforts enable blacks to form more empowered social networks, without the need for government action or the risk of a powerful backlash?
The kneel-in movement of the sixties exploited the power of images of people in prayer being kept out of a house of God. Stephen Haynes writes:
Kneel-ins were staged not to protest unjust statutes, claim rights that had been denied, or expose oppressive law-enforcement practices, but to dramatize a moral query: Would African Americans and their white accomplices be permitted to enter space in which white Christians worshipped a God they claimed loved all persons without distinction?…
…kneel-ins were moral spectacles par excellence. Depending on a church’s reaction, these visits could dramatize unity and reconciliation, or division and exclusion. The more prominent and centrally located the congregation, the more powerful the spectacle…
If black visitors and their fellow-travelers were admitted to one of these leading white churches, they participated in a spectacle of embrace that publicly dramatized Christ’s reconciling love. Conversely, the barring of blacks or racially mixed groups from worship created a spectacle of exclusion that symbolized the valuing of “time-honored tradition” over proclamation of the gospel.51
Haynes reports that the kneel-in actions stirred up controversy within various Protestant denominations whose churches were targeted, were discussed in the local and national papers, and created productive tensions between exclusive white churches and the desegregated, but church-affiliated, universities which some of the protesters attended. The protests created a sense of urgency about a problem that local religious and community leaders had neglected. Haynes notes that the kneel-in actions pricked the consciences of white southerners by presenting segregation in religious terms—as inconsistent with Christian love and brotherhood.
While the lunch counter sit-ins of the early civil rights movement generated images of biracial groups eating at the same table, Haynes points out the heightened symbolic power of a similar group breaking bread together in a religious setting, which was part of some kneel-in demonstrations. LGBT rights activists in the 1990s exploited the symbolic power of weddings in similar ways. Weddings represent the beginning of a new family, the assumption of adult responsibility, and commitment to others. Images of lesbians and gay men, or a multiracial group, taking part in sacred religious and cultural rituals create powerful messages of inclusion and community acceptance. These defiant actions provide a window into new kinds of social relations that are possible when we can get past our narrow-minded beliefs and customs. France’s victorious World Cup (2018) soccer team similarly provides powerful images of multi-racial and cross-religious interaction based on equality and respect.52 And images of American football players kneeling, rather than standing, before the flag, encourages viewers to question the meaning of patriotism.
Susan Moller Okin described families as schools of justice, in that children first learn about the rules of fairness and social hierarchy in their homes. 53 Churches and faith communities are also schools of justice. Individual members and families look to their faith communities to guide them on questions of morality and social justice. Children whose families are part of a segregated faith community grow up experiencing this cleavage in our society, and learning the various rationales for it. Today, white churches are unlikely to have explicitly racist covenants keeping out non-whites, but they are generally unwelcoming to African Americans.54 Black churches are more welcoming to non-blacks, but few of the latter attend.
Exclusionary white churches should be a concern to those who believe in cross-racial solidarity and equality. They are places where notions of white racial superiority or distinctness are nurtured. At the very least, they are places where whites form social bonds only with other whites, and whose social sympathies and solidarity become largely confined to racially homogeneous communities. Segregated white churches provide a social world where white adults and their children can avoid interaction with non-whites, and where members fail to acquire important social knowledge that can render interactions with non-whites less awkward and negative.55 In these white segregated communities, people tend to trust and seek help from only those who share their racial status.
Black churches, by contrast, have generally played an admirable role in civil rights struggles. They have provided places of refuge from our racist society, and for people to organize and launch social justice efforts.56 They are centers for community service and poverty relief efforts, as are some white churches. They are generally welcoming to white worshippers, which has made them more vulnerable to hate crimes. Because these churches do not tend to engage in exclusionary practices, and because the social and economic realities of black institutions are shaped by more powerful white-dominated institutions, black churches prepare their members more than white ones for participation in a racially diverse society.
One worry that anti-racist reformers might have is that desegregating white houses of worship might eventually lead to the demise of black cultural institutions, such as the black church. Such institutions are valuable not only as a refuge from a society that has not yet become “post-racial,” but also as an end in themselves. 57 However, if what is meant here by the “black church” is an institution that excludes non-blacks, this does not appear to be a central feature of the black church today.58 If houses of worship and religious institutions were to become less segregated, each could maintain its distinctive styles of worship and communion. For example, the Unitarian Universalist church today welcomes people of all faith backgrounds, ethnicities, sexualities, and so on. Yet to anyone who is non-Christian, it is evident that their forms of worship are culturally Christian—their Sunday services, their music, prayers, and so on. This is probably because most of their members are culturally Christian, and find certain kinds of music and sermons familiar and comforting, even though they reject most Christian doctrine. As long as a large number of Unitarian Universalists enjoy and find meaningful such cultural rituals and forms, their congregations should continue to participate in them.
Organized efforts to desegregate exclusive and resistant white churches have waned since the 1960s and one reason for this may be that the means for accomplishing this goal are not obvious. There is no law to change or remove, and no new government regulation or program to develop and impose. Perhaps those who organized the kneel-in campaigns of the 1960s eventually came to believe that moral shaming, via the public spectacle of bi-racial groups of worshippers being prevented by whites from entering their houses of God, was not enough to effect significant social change. However, efforts at racial desegregation that do not involve governmental mandates may have some advantages. Today we see that government-imposed reforms have led to a major political backlash in the U.S., resulting in lasting resentments on the part of state politicians and their followers who oppose the federal government’s intrusion into their affairs. The Republican party exploits these populist sentiments and attitudes toward affirmative action programs by taking a stance against so-called big government. Church desegregation, which need not be government organized and imposed, may be harder for white separatists to oppose.
While kneel-in demonstrations are part of the past, over the last several decades there have been scattered efforts to build intentionally, or voluntarily, inclusive church congregations. For example, the recent merging of a black church and a white church in Oakland, California to form the Tapestry Church, accomplished with the leadership of their pastors, provides a promising model for the voluntary racial integration of people who share a faith.59 This effort demonstrates how private organizations can make a significant contribution to positive social change. One advantage of desegregation efforts like this is that they place adults, rather than children by themselves, on the front lines of resisting racism and negotiating new social networks. Because these battles can be adversarial, hostile, and violent, they can take a larger toll on the psyches of black children than their parents.60 For instance, dispersing small numbers of black children into majority white schools and neighborhoods subjects these children to bullying and racial profiling in ways that can offset other benefits.61 By contrast, having children accompany their parents into voluntarily integrated spaces, such as that of the Tapestry Church in Oakland, provides them with emotional support as they participate in anti-racist social action.
Some might argue that children are more malleable and therefore better candidates for positive cross-racial interaction than adults, but unfortunately this is less true when parents get in the way and strenuously oppose any desegregation initiatives involving their children. While the actions of some white parents in these situations have been troubling and often reprehensible, forcing desegregation in these contexts creates the public spectacle of the government infringing their parental rights. Alternatively, voluntary efforts on the part of congregations that wish to be more racially inclusive would likely find less opposition, and could provide constructive lessons for others sympathetic to their aims.
Moreover, church desegregation can create conditions for social interaction among adults who already share significant religious beliefs and moral values, which may help to bridge differences due to class and ethnicity. A church is a moral community in which members share and deepen their moral understanding of the world. It is a community where people develop social trust and compassion for others, and accept responsibility for each other’s well-being to a significant extent. Leaders of such communities command moral authority and influence the behavior of others. Faith communities often encourage people to be less self-centered, and to think about those less fortunate than themselves.
Multiracial churches provide places where people can form more inclusive social networks and learn skills for positive interaction across racial divides. Initiatives that expand and diversify the social networks of people whose residential choices are severely constrained ameliorate to some degree the social isolation and neglect faced by people who live in hypersegregated neighborhoods.62 Importantly, they involve grassroots actions we can take and organize in order to address the legacy of racial segregation without waiting for the gears of our large governmental bureaucracy to turn. There are some interfaith groups that now focus on building multiracial (as well as multi-faith) networks in order to address issues of social justice. For example, the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, according to their website, “was founded by a group of 45 clergy and community leaders who began meeting in January of 1996. What motivated this founding group to begin building GBIO was a common desire to transcend the historic divisions in Boston that existed between neighborhoods, particularly around race and class issues.”63 One of their primary initiatives is to raise money to build affordable housing for low-income families.64 The Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice in Ann Arbor has a taskforce on Racial and Economic Justice which partners with a group called Religious Action for Affordable Housing.65 A number of individual congregations have initiated racial justice “conversations” and projects. Temple Israel of Boston has organized “an effort to promote purchasing from Black-owned businesses. This project is anchored in our awareness of insidious past and present racial discrimination; and in the evidence that Black-owned businesses are likely to hire Black people, and foster economic improvement for Black families and communities along with myriad other benefits.”66 All of these organizations enable the formation of diverse social networks, where people are accountable to each other, and develop bonds of trust and understanding that transcend race and ethnicity. This is a first step toward greater community and neighborhood diversity.
In the 1990s, when I was living in a predominantly white, upper middle-class university town in Southern California, the city council voted down a proposal by a well-established restaurant group to open an Ethiopian restaurant in our “village” business area. I asked people I knew on our city council and in our city attorney’s office for explanations. The official rationale seemed to be that there were concerns that such a restaurant would not be popular among, or patronized by, the town’s residents, which is somewhat bizarre. Ethiopian restaurants are now popular and successful in many U.S. cities, and so I challenged this explanation. After hearing multiple attempts to justify the decision, the only thing I could surmise was that some concerned residents feared that the restaurant would attract black people from outside our town, and their presence might discourage the town’s residents from patronizing other businesses in the village. Of course, no one said exactly this, in these terms, but the issue of business taxes and property values kept coming up, which was only relevant if they thought a potentially successful “black” business in our town would depress them.
The leaders in this town missed an opportunity to challenge the fears and prejudices of a sizable group of residents and help integrate the town’s business district, as a step perhaps toward greater neighborhood integration. Perhaps greater pressure from civil society groups, including faith organizations that are taking up the issue of racial and social justice, would have led to a different outcome. Changes in our tax policy of the sort that Rothstein and Ford propose can also put pressure on city councils to advance residential diversity, and make better and fairer decisions. My general point is that we need to be creative and try different and new approaches, in order to end black hypersegregation and the many other disadvantages it perpetuates. Perhaps once we understand the historical causes of segregation—especially the role of our government—and also how whites continue to reap underserved advantages, the advantaged group will be less inclined to view current arrangements as a matter of their virtue or some cultural characteristics of racialized groups.67
*I would like to thank the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, where much of the research for this essay was completed.
- Richard Rothstein, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America (Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2017). Rothstein writes about Levittown: “in these and thousands of other locales, mass-production builders created entire suburbs with the FHA- or VA-imposed condition that these suburbs be all white (p. 70).
- Aaron Williams and Armand Emamdjomeh, “America is more diverse than ever—but still segregated,” The Washington Post, May 10, 2018: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/national/segregation-us-cities/?utm_term=.c512c7b56048
- For a definition of ‘hypersegregation,’ see Douglas S. Massey and Nancy A. Denton, “Hypersegregation in U.S. Metropolitan Areas: Black and Hispanic Segregation along Five Dimensions,” Demography 26(3):373-39. Extreme segregation is mostly experienced by African Americans in the U.S., where segregation often includes five dimensions: evenness, isolation, concentration, centralization, and clustering.
- Iris Marion Young, Inclusion and Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 216.
- I. Young, Inclusion and Democracy, p. 216.
- I. Young, Inclusion and Democracy, p. 217.
- I. Young, Inclusion and Democracy, p. 217.
- I. Young, Inclusion and Democracy, p. 217.
- I. Young, Inclusion and Democracy, p. 218.
- Tommie Shelby, Dark Ghettos: Injustice, Dissent, and Reform (Harvard University Press, 2016), p. 49.
- T. Shelby, Dark Ghettos, p. 59. Shelby does not advocate racial separatism as an end (as do black nationalists), but as an acceptable means to black equality and freedom. See also Shelby’s We Who are Dark: The Philosophical Foundations of Black Solidarity (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007). In some ways Shelby’s criticisms of the new integrationists are similar to Malcolm X’s criticisms of Martin Luther King on integration. See the recorded interviews “Malcolm X: Forcing Integration Doesn’t Work” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKxny3F22so and “Malcolm X, Do You Believe in Segregation” (1963) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhB8r5Rx-FQ
- T. Shelby, Dark Ghettos, p. 70.
- T. Shelby, Dark Ghettos, p. 71
- I. Young, Inclusion and Democracy, pp. 206-7.
- I. Young, Inclusion and Democracy, p. 224.
- T. Shelby, Dark Ghettos, pp. 67-79.
- T. Shelby, Dark Ghettos, p. 278.
- T. Shelby, Dark Ghettos, p. 5, and pp. 59-62.
- I. Young, Inclusion and Democracy, p. 216.
- T. Shelby, Dark Ghettos, p. 63.
- For example, the Seattle policy that was reviewed by the Supreme Court in 2007 worked as follows: “In the district’s public schools approximately 41 percent of enrolled students are white; the remaining 59 percent, comprising all other racial groups, are classified by Seattle for assignment purposes as nonwhite…If an oversubscribed school is not within 10 percentage points of the district’s overall white/nonwhite racial balance, it is what the district calls ‘integration positive,’ and the district employs a tiebreaker that selects for assignment students whose race ‘will serve to bring the school into balance.’” Opinion of Roberts, C.J., (551 U.S., 2007), PARENTS INVOLVED IN COMMUNITY SCHOOLS v. SEATTLE SCHOOL DIST. NO. 1, p. 3: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/supreme-court-decision-seattle-louisville-school-integration-cases; Residential integration programs do not generally aim to achieve such precise racial balancing, and even school integration programs like Seattle’s did not attempt to balance each racial/ethnic group “in rough proportion to their presence in the region.” Indeed, voucher programs, by limiting funding, may be charged with trying to keep the numbers of blacks moving to higher opportunity neighborhoods much lower than their proportion in the region, so as not to provoke white flight.
- Some writers use the term “white privilege” to refer to the social and economic advantages whites generally have over blacks, but this suggests that blacks are being denied merely a privilege rather than respect for their basic rights when they are treated unequally. See Naomi Zack, White Privilege, Black Right (N.J.: Rowman and Littlefield, 2015).
- Richard Rothstein, The Color of Law, pp. 184-5. Sadly, the recent collapse of real estate values in the U.S. has had a more devastating impact on black wealth than white, in part due to the former’s lack of access to decent mortgage terms or to less risky properties in neighborhoods with lower foreclosure rates. See Gillian White, “The Recession’s Racial Slant,” The Atlantic, June 24, 2015: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/06/black-recession-housing-race/396725/
- Richard Rothstein, The Color of Law, p. 209. According to Rothstein, “In 2015 approximately one million families had vouchers—but another 6 million who qualified went without them. There are long waiting lists for vouchers in every city that has a large African American low-income population.” (p. 209).
- Rothstein reports that public-subsidized housing has furthered segregation because government officials and the real estate industry joined forces to locate low-income housing “projects” in poor black neighborhoods. In this way, public housing programs have served to concentrate poverty rather than promote economic security. Nevertheless, Shelby advocates placing public housing units in segregated black neighborhoods, and allowing people to use vouchers to rent in these neighborhoods as a way to bring resources to poor neighborhoods, and allow people to self-segregate if they choose. Of course, there is little resistance for doing what Shelby proposes, and great resistance to building affordable and inclusive housing outside black neighborhoods, which would significantly increase housing choice for blacks. Dark Ghettos, p. 77.
- See also Andrew Valls, see “A Liberal Defense of Black Nationalism.” American Political Science Review 104 (2010): 467-81.
- Rothstein’s The Color of Law shows how our governmental regulations and programs throughout the 20th century (e.g., racial zoning, exclusive covenants, public housing programs, etc.) created white prosperous suburban communities and black inner-city slums. Rothstein challenges what he calls the myth of de facto segregation, and shows that de jure segregation extended well beyond the Jim Crow era and to all regions of the country.
- A number of philosophers have told me that it is not our job to develop concrete policies or programs, but rather this is the job of political strategists or policy makers. Our job is only to distinguish and morally evaluate competing and guiding principles or ideals. I find this division of labor to be somewhat elitist, and it exempts philosophers from doing the hard work of fleshing out their principles and explaining what difference they could make if put into practice, and also becoming more informed about the empirical realities in which we live. In general, feminist philosophers have been more willing to debate the nuances of policy, such as those pertaining to abortion and reproductive rights, or pornography and free speech.
- R. Rothstein, The Color of Law, pp. 202-11.
- R. Rothstein, The Color of Law, p. 210.
- Anderson, Elizabeth. (2010). The Imperative of Integration (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press), chapters one, two, and three.
- E. Anderson, The Imperative of Integration, chapter 5.
- E. Anderson, The Imperative of Integration, chapters 6, 7, and 9.
- “Commentaries on Elizabeth S. Anderson, The Imperative of Integration” Symposia on Gender, Race and Philosophy 9.2 (Fall 2013): http://web.mit.edu/~sgrp/2013/no2/SGRPv9no2(0913).pdf See commentaries by Denise James, Ronald Sundstrom, and Paul C. Taylor. See also Andrew Valls forthcoming book Rethinking Racial Justice (Oxford University Press, Aug. 2018).
- Shelby, Dark Ghettos, pp. 66-79
- Shelby, Dark Ghettos, pp. 66-79
- Allen, Danielle. (2016). “Toward a connected society,” in Our Compelling Interests, eds. E. Lewis and N. Cantor (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press), p. 89. See also, Douglas S. Massey, “Segregation and the Perpetuation of Disadvantage,” The Oxford Handbook of the Social Science of Poverty, eds. D. Brady and L.M. Burton (Oxford University Press, 2016). http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199914050.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199914050-e-17
- D. Allen, “Toward a connected society,” pp. 89-90.
- Shelby, Dark Ghettos, Chapter 2, “Integration or Egalitarian Pluralism”?
- Landlords sometimes do not answer phone calls from prospective black renters, homeowners sometimes feel pressure from neighbors not to sell to blacks, and banks sometimes offer black borrowers less attractive mortgage rates. Many people who do this do not regard themselves as racist, instead they see themselves as protecting their own financial investments or their company’s financial interests. Douglas Massey writes, “Discrimination in the sale and rental of homes was not outlawed until the Fair Housing Act of 1968; discrimination in mortgage lending was not prohibited until the 1974 Equal Credit Opportunity Act; and redlining was only banned in 1977 by the Community Reinvestment Act. Although these laws outlawed discrimination, however, they contained few enforcement provisions, generally placing the onus on individual victims to prove that they had suffered discrimination in court. As a result, discrimination did not cease so much as become clandestine after the Civil Rights Era.” See Massey, “Segregation and the Perpetuation of Disadvantage.”
- NPR, “Interactive Redlining Map Zooms In On America’s History of Discrimination,” October 19, 2016: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/10/19/498536077/interactive-redlining-map-zooms-in-on-americas-history-of-discrimination
- New York Times Editorial Board, “How Segregation Destroys Black Wealth,” The New York Times, September 15, 2015: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/15/opinion/how-segregation-destroys-black-wealth.html
- Patricia Williams relates an incident in which a bank wanted to charge her more points for a mortgage because the bank officials believed that property values would drop in any neighborhood that a black person bought into: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/race/audio/pwilliams.html Residential discrimination based on race (independent of wealth) is an example of why racial discrimination cannot be reduced to, or simply explained in terms of, class discrimination. See also Race and Real Estate, eds. Adrienne Brown and Valerie Smith (Oxford University Press, 2016).
- Ford, Richard Thompson, “The Color of Territory: How Law and Borders Keep America Segregated,” in Justice and the American Metropolis, eds. C.R. Hayward, T. Swanstrom S. Macedo and D. Rae (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011).
- When the tax revenues of a community are high due to historic segregation and ongoing discrimination, one could argue that the community has a moral obligation to share resources with those who have been the victims of segregation and discrimination. Also, the state has an acknowledged interest in promoting diversity in educational institutions and ending racial isolation, and one tool it has to accomplish this is tax redistribution.
- Ford, Richard Thompson, “The Color of Territory: How Law and Borders Keep America Segregated.”
- D. Allen, “Toward a connected society,” p. 88.
- A. Allen, The New Ethics, p. 243.
- Stephen Haynes, The Last Segregated Hour: The Memphis Kneel-Ins and the Campaign for Southern Church Desegregation (Oxford University Press 2012).
- In “The Most Segregated Hour in America” http://www.phil.vt.edu/JKlagge/ConductorChurch.htm , James C. Klagge discusses the research of the Multiracial Congregations Project regarding the prevalence of multiracial congregations: http://www.hartfordinstitute.org/cong/research_multiracl.html. Korie Edwards questions efforts to launch multiracial congregations, especially those associated with the megachurches, in that they often celebrate diversity without focusing on the structural causes of inequality. See “Much Ado About Nothing? Rethinking the Efficacy of Multiracial Churches for Racial Reconciliation,” in Christians and the Color Line, eds. J.R. Hawkins and P.L. Sinitiere (Oxford University Press, 2013). I agree with Edwards’s critique regarding the shallowness of some of these efforts, though it overlooks the importance of the social networks that such congregations may facilitate.
- Haynes, The Last Segregated Hour, pp. 14-15
- “Is France’s ethnically diverse team a symbol of multiculturalism?” Ramy Allahoum, Aljazeera, July 10, 2018: https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/france-ethnically-diverse-team-symbol-multiculturalism-180709224535038.html Also see “Migration, Outreach Mean Diversity Is Soccer’s New Normal,” The Associated Press, The New York Times, July 10, 2018: https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2018/07/10/world/europe/ap-soc-wcup-diversity.html
- Justice, Gender, and the Family (Basic Books 1991).
- See Michael Emerson and Christian Smith, Divided By Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America (NY: Oxford University Press 2001).
- Anita Allen argues that segregation prevents us from acquiring forms of knowledge we need to treat others with respect (p. 241). Anita L. Allen, The New Ethics (New York, NY: Miramax Books, 2004).
- Eric L. McDaniel, Politics in the Pews: The Political Mobilization of Black Churches (University of Michigan Press, 2008).
- Shelby, “Integration, Inequality, and Imperatives of Justice: A Review Essay.”
- In this video clip of Reverend Martin Luther King, he states that black Christian churches are segregated but not “segregating” in that they would welcome white members: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1q881g1L_d8
- Jill Tucker, “Black, white Oakland churches to merge into one,” San Francisco Chronicle, June 2, 2018: https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Black-white-Oakland-churches-to-merge-into-one-12961726.php ; and Sandhya Dirks, “Integrating Sunday Morning Church Service—A Prayer Answered,” NPR, August, 11, 2018:
There have been some earlier efforts to form multiracial churches, see Lucas J. Johnson, “Rare Combination: Parishes partner to make King’s message of desegregation a reality,” Missoulian, October 8, 2011: https://missoulian.com/lifestyles/faith-and-values/religion/rare-combination-parishes-partner-to-make-king-s-message-of/article_35395816-f11d-11e0-914e-001cc4c002e0.html
- Hannah Arendt criticized the school desegregation movement for this reason, and became somewhat vilified for this. Hannah Arendt, “Reflections on Little Rock,” Dissent 6 (1959): 45-56. See also: Danielle Allen, “Law’s Necessary Forcefulness: Ralph Ellison vs. Hannah Arendt on the Battle of Little Rock,” Oklahoma City University Law Review 26 (2009): 857-2001; Maribel Morey, “Reassessing Hannah Arendt’s “Reflections on Little Rock” (1959)”. Law Culture and the Humanities 10 (2014): 88-110; Kathryn T. Gines, Hannah Arendt and the Negro Question (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014).
- Shelby, “Integration, Inequality, and Imperatives of Justice: A Review Essay”
- A recent study by Edward C. Polson and Rachel Gillespie found that “the activity of multiracial congregations suggests that diverse CBOs [community-based organizations] and associations might play an important role in fostering and sustaining bridging social capital in communities.” See “The Bridging Activity of Multiracial Congregations,” Religions 10:3 (March 2019). See also Michael O. Emerson, People of the Dream: Multiracial Congregations in the United States (NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008); and Curtiss Paul DeYoung, Michael O. Emerson, George Yancey, and Karen Chai Kim, United by Faith: The Multiracial Congregation As an Answer to the Problem of Race (New York: Oxford University Press 2004).
- Greater Boston Interfaith Organization: http://www.gbio.org/about-gbio
- Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice: https://www.icpj.org/blog/program-areas/racial-economic-justice/
- Temple Israel of Boston: https://www.tisrael.org/racial-justice-initiative/
- Jemar Tisby writes, “In accounting for the black-white wealth gap, for instance, black and white Christians have remarkably different understandings of the problem and solution. Sixty-two percent of white evangelicals attribute poverty among black people to a lack of motivation, while 31 percent of black Christians said the same. And just 27 percent of white evangelicals attribute the wealth gap to racial discrimination, while 72 percent of blacks cite discrimination as a major cause of the discrepancy.” The Color of Compromise: The Truth About the American Church’s Complicity in Racism (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan 2019): p. 176.