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Sometimes, I Wish I Was Wrong

February 3, 2020

After the election of Donald Trump and observing his Cabinet appointments, I posted a series of predictions of where I saw the country headed. One of those posts predicted the end of segregation efforts, particularly in the area of housing. I wish my predictions about Mr. Trump and especially his USDOE Secretary Betsy DeVos has been wrong… but as the title of this NYTImes article by Richard Rothstein, “The Trump Administration’s New Housing Rules Will Worsen Segregation”  indicates, Ben Carson’s leadership at HUD has been disastrous for those who advocate the placement of low income housing in affluent communities.

If poor African American families are able to live in the same neighborhoods and attend the same schools as affluent whites it can break down racial barriers faster than any government mandate. Moreover, if those who advocate school choice as a solution fail to simultaneously advocate choice for housing, they are disingenuously or misleadingly offering a hollow choice because unless poor children of color have a ready physical means of resigning close to the schools of their choice they will miss out on the benefits that occur from the locality of those schools. As Mr. Rothstein asks:

How can we ever develop the common national identity essential to the preservation of our democracy if so many African Americans and whites live so far from each other that we have no ability to understand and empathize with each other’s life experiences?

Any politician who runs on a platform of unity should embrace government funding that provides low income housing in affluent communities and promotes legal action when communities attempt to construct de facto walls around them by passing zoning regulations that preclude this possibility. Instead of debating “free college for all” the progressive candidates should focus their time and energy on equitable school funding for all. Not everyone in the nation has been to college or aspires to college, but I daresay there is anyone in the country who doesn’t aspire to living in a community where everyone looks out for everyone else.

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