The many Americans who dismiss racial integration as a form of social engineering fail to grasp the social engineering involved in segregation. For example, St. Louis and Ferguson have limited quality, affordable housing. And the public and private housing that is built goes up in neighborhoods where unemployment is high, where public transportation is shoddy and where there are poor public facilities such as parks and roads. And the school district where these facilities are placed is underfunded, with residents owning less property and wielding less political power. The Fergusons of America, then, seem all the more isolated, with their underfunded schools and transportation and lack of job centers. Meanwhile, the police do not appear underfunded. In the Fergusons of America, myriad black and Latino communities miss opportunities for quality housing and support systems — to say nothing of the disappearance of living-wage jobs.
Nationwide, counties are enacting suburban land-use and zoning policies to promote larger lot development to sustain private property values and to restrict suburban rental housing — all of which limit the influx of black and Latino households. Such public and private behavior continues a legacy of residential segregation in counties such as St. Charles, inflicting a double whammy: The residential segregation furthers unacceptable disparities in wealth between the races, creating a geography of opportunity which determines who has access to the valuable resources that improve one’s life. The geographic gulf between placid St. Charles and Ferguson illustrates the underlying structural racism, which doesn’t arrive at the point of a gun. | Al Jazeera America