Sunday, July 01, 2007

A really awful SCOTUS decision

The decision overturning the Seattle and Louisville desegregation plans, plans that used race as a tiebreaker after many other considerations for school assignments, reflected a naiveté about the state of residential segregation in the United States that is appalling.

In Seattle, nearly 60 percent of black households would need to move for the community to be integrated; in Louisville, the percentage is nearly 70 percent. (see for details, which come from the fine work of Frey and Myers).

Moreover, the best evidence we have is that these patterns of segregation arise from continuing discrimination in the housing market (John Yinger, Marge Turner and Reynolds Farley do the heavy lifting on demonstrating continuing discrimination). Given that SCOTUS has ruled out the ability of school districts to remedy the fact that housing discrimination leads to school segregation, the only way to move forward is to enforce fair housing laws far more rigorously--sending rental agents and Realtors who discriminate to jail for a Paris Hilton type sentence might not be the worst way to start. Not that I expect to see this anytime soon...

At least when people of my generation and older are dead and gone, things should get better. A Pew poll on attitudes toward race shows that Gen Xers are far more enlightened than the rest of us--91 percent think inter-racial dating is OK, while only 77 percent of my generation (boomers) think so (who are those other 23 percent?) . Those older than I are are even less likely to think it is OK.


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