“manufactured by whites through a series of self-conscious actions and purposeful institutional arrangements that continue today. Similar patterns are observed when segregation is examined by education and occupation. No matter how socioeconomic status is measured, therefore, black segregation remains universally high while that of Hispanics and Asians falls progressively as status rises. Only blacks experience a pattern of constant, high segregation that is impervious to socioeconomic influences. The persistence of racial segregation in American cities, therefore, is a matter of race and not class.” (Massey & Denton, 1993, p.65)
Another salient feature of the book that caught my attention is its insight and fresh perspective. When one looks at mainstream American political discourse today, the debaters come from one of two sections of the political divide. On one side are representatives like Newt Gingrich , Mitt Romney, etc, who espouse a vehemently skeptical view of social welfare (of which black Americans are major beneficiaries). Belonging to this conservative side are media personalities like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, etc. This group consistently attacks the notion of a welfare state and reckons that the black community has to lift itself out of poverty and its ghettos. On the other hand, liberal commentators argue the role played by the white establishment in bolstering the prospects of whites at the cost of blacks. What Murray and Denton have done is to bring a new perspective to the issue. They effectively show how the process of construction of urban spaces is both a cause and consequence of larger economic currents bearing upon society. Thereby, the authors imply a novel method of creating equitable societies – via the method of fair, equitable and desegregated housing. This suggestion struck me as a creative solution to the problem of poverty among minority communities.
Currently, the process of hyper-segregation is one of the biggest malaises to afflict American society. Hence, the authors sound a warning that despite political rhetoric and the example of a black President, the black community’s fortunes in America are still dismal. Not only is the “depth of black segregation unprecedented and utterly unique compared with that of other groups, but it shows little sign of change with the passage of time or improvements in socioeconomic status.” Hence, policy makers will have to act upon constructive recommendations made by Douglas Massey and Nancy Denton for resolving this pressing problem.
Charles E. Hurst (2007). Social Inequality: Forms, causes, and consequences (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson. ISBN 9780205698295.
Douglas S. Massey; Nancy A. Denton (1993). American Apartheid. Boston: Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674018204.
Hasday, Judy L. (2007), The Civil Rights Act of 1964: An End to Racial Segregation for High Schools.