City Landscapes and Systemic Oppression

by nicolas_bernier on October 16, 2017 - 10:12am

In the article “How Urban Design Perpetuates Racial In equality- And What We Can Do About It” by Diana Budds it is discussed that cities are shaped by the people who plan them. For centuries, in the United States of America, these people where mostly racist and discriminatory. Urban policies like the Housing Act of 1949, passed by congress, helped forge more divisions in various cities. Laws like these helped push slum dwellers out of their homes and on to the streets. Another gravily dividing factor is public transportation and access to it. Lack of viable and efficient public transportation is a helpful tool to keep some communities segregated, and there for the people within them also. It can be as simple as an overpass that is too low for buses to cross to a certain area.

         Some believe that there is a need to redesign the landscape of practicing designers. There are extremely low amounts of color and low-income backgrounds individuals in power in these field, which leads to a lack of diversity in ideas.

         Others argue that building a more equitable city will pass through government legislation with physical change. From protesters to politicians, everyone seems to see compromise as weakness and this creates large amounts of division. If things and spaces are forcibly made public, then the wealthy 1% will be forced to improve all spaces and not just the ones they own.

         Things like noxious factories and highways have purposefully torn low-income neighborhood because they were less important. As a result, investment in beautification go to other areas and these places move from bad to worse.


Discussion: This article showed various sides of the issue. With movements like Black Lives Matter coming in and standing up for their rights, it has become in every politician’s best interest to support the desegregation of cities in America. This is due to the large amount of positive media attention these politicians will get. However, the era of slums, which date back to the Jim Crow area is over and tenants need to accept that changes will affect their communities for better or for worse. Things like gentrification, which, if executed properly will lead to more diverse neighborhoods are inevitable, and some tenants will need to accept this as fact. With involvement from members of every involved community, evictions can be limited and conditions in affordable housing projects will most likely improve.




I think you summarized the article quite faithfully, although I feel there are some points that would require some precision. First of all, from what I can see, this article is entirely centered on the united states and its own social issues. This is shown through reference to the Jim Crow laws, as well as the generally more racist background the article assumes to be existing, which is mostly present in the US. It would maybe have been a good idea to indicate the national bias this article has, as many of the points do not apply, or do in a minor way, to less socially lagging nations such as Canada, and many other western countries. Secondly, the argument for the de-privatization of spaces, I feel, is a bit utopian. Indeed, if all spaces are rendered public (public as in owned by the government or just publically available?), I doubt this would change the human nature and/or greed of those in power, they would still only spend on things that would benefit them personally, regardless of if the space can only be accessed by them or by everyone. Finally, in your summary, the article sounds as if the placing of industrial facilities in low-income areas, and in the scope of this US-biased article, people of color, is purposefully targeting these areas in order to maintain supremacy over these people. In reality, corporations and governments will usually build facilities that offer low-income low-qualification jobs in low-income areas because that is where both jobs are the most needed, but also where the most people are likely to take up those jobs. You wouldn't install a factory in a wealthy neighbourhood, as no one close by would want to work there, and people who would need those jobs wouldn't want to pay for transportation all the way across the city if they can avoid it. This was my little bit of input, congrats once more on faithfully summarizing the article you chose.
States Challenge Cities, Nonprofit Low-Income Housing Industrial Complex
Roger Valdez -

I really enjoyed your summary of Diana Budd's article, it was well organized, instructive and fun to read. I agree with the fact that urban planning does not help end racism but on the contrary acts as one more obstacle in the way of a united world. I was impressed when you wrote about simple overpasses being too low could influence certain transport routes and influence segregation. I think one solution to this issue would be to try to involve minorities in urban planning because like you stated only a fraction of minorities are involved in urban planning. "A 2007 American Planning Association task force found that fewer than 10 percent of the organization’s members are racial minorities, compared to more than 30 percent of the U.S. population." (Honeywell,2015). Involving minorities and the habitants of every type of neighbourhood is essential in my opinion while planning cities to make sure that the need of everyone is heard and addressed.

Source: Honeywell, R. (2015, October 29). Does Urban Planning Have a Race Problem? Retrieved October 17, 2017, from

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