Posted on August 3, 2021

The Roots of Structural Racism Project

Stephen Menendian et al., Othering and Belonging Institute, June 21, 2021

The Roots of Structural Racism Project was unveiled in June 2021 after several years of investigating the persistence of racial residential segregation across the United States. Among the many components included in this project are the national segregation report (below) which contains startling findings about the intensification of racial residential segregation in recent decades; an interactive mapping tool that illustrates the level of segregation in every city, region and neighborhood in the country; a collection of tables which list cities and metropolitan regions by various measures of segregation and political polarization; nine city profiles noteworthy for their levels of segregation or integration; and a literature review featuring dozens of local city histories. All of these components can be accessed using the navigation menu on the right-hand side of this page. This project spawned out of a multi-part report series on segregation focused on the San Francisco Bay Area we published from 2018 to 2020, and which informed efforts by the Berkeley city council in February 2021 to reconsider exclusionary zoning. We hope this new national project will be useful to housing justice advocates, researchers, lawmakers, and journalists across the country working towards integration.

Key report findings

  1. Out of every metropolitan region in the United States with more than 200,000 residents, 81 percent (169 out of 209) were more segregated as of 2019 than they were in 1990
  2. Rustbelt cities of the industrial Midwest and mid-Atlantic disproportionately make up the top 10 most segregated cities list, which includes Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Trenton
  3. Out of the 113 largest cities examined, only Colorado Springs, CO and Port St. Lucie, FL qualify as “integrated” under our rubric
  4. Neighborhood poverty rates are highest in segregated communities of color (21 percent), which is three times higher than in segregated white neighborhoods (7 percent)
  5. Black children raised in integrated neighborhoods earn nearly $1,000 more as adults per year, and $4,000 more when raised in white neighborhoods, than those raised in highly segregated communities of color
  6. Latino children raised in integrated neighborhoods earn $844 more per year as adults, and $5,000 more when raised in white neighborhoods, than those raised in highly segregated communities of color
  7. Household incomes and home values in white neighborhoods are nearly twice as high as those in segregated communities of color
  8. Homeownership is 77 percent in highly segregated white neighborhoods, 59 percent in well-integrated neighborhoods, but just 46 percent in highly segregated communities of color
  9. 83 percent of neighborhoods that were given poor ratings (or “redlined”) in the 1930s by a federal mortgage policy were as of 2010 highly segregated communities of color
  10. Regions with higher levels of racial residential segregation have higher levels of political polarization, an important implication in the context of gerrymandering and voter suppression
  11. The most segregated regions are the Midwest and mid-Atlantic, followed by the West Coast
  12. Southern states have lower overall levels of segregation, and the Mountain West and Plains states have the least