In sessions III and IV, we’re looking at how it came to be that neighborhoods are largely segregated by race – and the wealth disparity that goes alongside that pattern.
Session III consisted in watching the episode “The House We Live In” from the PBS series “Race: The Power of an Illusion.” The whole series (3 hour-long videos) is available to rent for a week on Vimeo for $5. However, you can watch just the portion that addresses redlining and how racist mortgage practices in the mid-20th century led to today’s racial disparities in household wealth, for free, here. It’s about 30 minutes long.
Session IV: Redlining in Madison
A 3-minute local news video: http://fox47.com/news/local/expert-describes-how-cities-were-designed-to-put-people-of-color-at-disadvantage
The big project looking at historical redlining maps that’s referenced there – Introduction & brief explanation: https://dsl.richmond.edu/panorama/redlining/#loc=9/43.145/-89.62&city=madison-wi&text=intro
And here’s Madison. Click around some! Notice the language used. https://dsl.richmond.edu/panorama/redlining/#loc=12/43.085/-89.409&city=madison-wi&area=C5&adview=full&adviewer=sidebar
Then, spend some time looking at this recent paper: https://minds.wisconsin.edu/bitstream/handle/1793/80355/Gold%20Merry%20Newman.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
Consider reading the whole thing; it’s pretty interesting. But here are some highlights.
- Page 3: “We are seeking to understand if the discriminatory neighborhood evaluations made by the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation have left a legacy of segregation and disparate outcomes in the neighborhoods of Madison. To what extent do modern mortgage lending patterns resemble the 1937 red-lined map of Madison?”
- Read pages 6 & 7 about the historical racial dynamics of Madison.
- Then there’s a whole chunk exploring the debate over whether the redlining maps were descriptive or prescriptive. It’s an interesting question; but what difference does it ultimately make? There’s certainly a huge amount of self-fulfilling prophesy in these ratings.
- From page 20 on, look at the maps and graphs, & what they’re doing.
- Read the conclusion paragraph on page 33. In many ways they end up with more questions. There are clearly some deeply persistent patterns; and there are hints that there are ongoing mechanisms that keep reinforcing those patterns.
An important point: It’s not just that redlined areas have a lack of positive investment; it’s that they suffer from predatory and destructive forces, economic and otherwise. More on that ahead.
Where does all that place St. Dunstan’s as a church founded in the late 1950s on the west side of Madison?
Look at some midcentury Madison maps.
While in 1966 there’s still a lot of open space where there are neighborhoods now, it’s clear that there was RAPID growth to the south and west during these years. (Middleton became a city in 1963, though parts of it are much older – even older than Madison proper.)
I have wondered about the extent to which St. Dunstan’s was a “white flight” church. It doesn’t sound like that was the case, exactly, based on what the paper has to say about the history of Madison’s African-American population. It’s more just that the area was growing, and a church was planted in an area where there was growth. HOWEVER: It may be meaningful that it was planted on the west side, not the south or southwest, which were also growing.
How have we NOTICED the racialized landscape of Madison/Dane County? (Think about language of “crummy” neighborhoods, “bad” schools; places where we have a sense of not belonging or of being unsafe – how are we getting those messages?)
How have we NOT NOTICED it? …
What would it look like to inhabit this landscape differently? …
We have decided to read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ article “The Case for Reparations” and discuss that next week. The article can be read or listened to here. It’s a long read; give it time!
Some additional links…