Creating Momentum for Transformative   Change: Addressing the Racialized   Structure of Opportunity   john a. powell   Dir...
2My Biographyo I grew up.
3My ParentsMy parents weresharecroppers inthe South.They left theSouth in search ofopportunity.
4      HomeThey moved northseeking opportunity andbought a house.Today I would say theybought into a decliningarea or low ...
5           My Old Neighborhood The vacant grassyplots are not parks.
Where are all the people?                                     Suburbs                Suburbs                          Cent...
7           What’s left behind?Vacant lots andabandoned houses
8Where I Grew UpI grew up in a low opportunity structure in a declining opportunity                                city.
9It is also known as Detroit.   DeconstructedOpportunity Structures and Neighborhoods
10Place and Life Outcomes                                      • We all live in opportunity                               ...
11 Some people ride the     Others have to run up“Up” escalator to reach   the “Down” escalator     opportunity.         t...
12 Opportunity is Racializedo Structures and policies are  not neutral. They unevenly                                   Sc...
13  Isn’t this just an issue of poverty?o No – even if it was, that would not be an adequate answer.o For those living in ...
14Which community would you choose?
15 A Tale of High and Low Opportunity Structures          Low Opportunity                     High Opportunity• Less the 2...
16I now live in a high opportunity structure.
17  Opportunity Matters:  Neighborhoods & Access to Opportunityo High poverty areas with poor  employment, underperforming...
18
19A trip in the past or back to the future?The real story of redlining starting with Philadelphia
20Changes since then…. o Systems have become more complex. Example: mortgage    finance went from a 2 to 3 party system   ...
21  …to this!           Today:      The web of actors       and institutions     involved in the sub     prime lending and...
22    From Redlining to    Reverse Redlining:    A historical view of     redlining zones inPhiladelphia and areas of  for...
23Columbus, OH: Non-White Population & Foreclosures
24                          Why is the growing                         foreclosure problem   More than Just         causin...
25Who’s to blame?    ************************************************************   The old inequality made the new inequa...
26Two Views        Atomistic                       Systemic• The problem: bad apples     • The problem: poisonous treeColo...
27       The structures we live in are actually systems.27                                         Systems Thinking:     T...
28Consider the Broader Contexto We want to avoid negative feedback loops.o A structural analysis is deeply relational and ...
29What are the implications of opportunity isolation?               • Poor economic outcomes, lower educational           ...
30What are the costs of opportunity isolation? o Individual/family costs     Living in “concentrated disadvantage” reduce...
31Remedying Opportunity Isolationo Adopt strategies that open up access to levers of  opportunity for marginalized individ...
32
33
34Rethinking Structural Arrangementso Bringing people into  structures that formerly  excluded them may not be  enougho Me...
35Questions or Comments?For More Information, Visit Us Online: www.KirwanInstitute.org
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Creating Momentum for Transformative Change: Addressing the Racialized Structure of Opportunity

  1. 1. Creating Momentum for Transformative Change: Addressing the Racialized Structure of Opportunity john a. powell Director, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity Williams Chair in Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, Moritz College of LawTIDES Momentum ConferenceSeptember 7-9, 2009San Francisco
  2. 2. 2My Biographyo I grew up.
  3. 3. 3My ParentsMy parents weresharecroppers inthe South.They left theSouth in search ofopportunity.
  4. 4. 4 HomeThey moved northseeking opportunity andbought a house.Today I would say theybought into a decliningarea or low opportunitystructure.
  5. 5. 5 My Old Neighborhood The vacant grassyplots are not parks.
  6. 6. Where are all the people? Suburbs Suburbs Central Suburbs City Thisfragmentationdepresses thewhole region. Suburbs
  7. 7. 7 What’s left behind?Vacant lots andabandoned houses
  8. 8. 8Where I Grew UpI grew up in a low opportunity structure in a declining opportunity city.
  9. 9. 9It is also known as Detroit. DeconstructedOpportunity Structures and Neighborhoods
  10. 10. 10Place and Life Outcomes • We all live in opportunity structures. Health • The opportunities available Childcare Employment to all people are not the same. Housing EffectiveParticipation Education • Opportunity is racialized. Transportation
  11. 11. 11 Some people ride the Others have to run up“Up” escalator to reach the “Down” escalator opportunity. to get there.
  12. 12. 12 Opportunity is Racializedo Structures and policies are not neutral. They unevenly School distribute benefits and Lower Segregation & burdens. Educational Concentrated Outcomes Povertyo Institutions can operate jointly to produce racialized outcomes.o This institutional uneven Racial and Increased distribution & racial Economic Flight marking has negative Neighborhood of Affluent consequences for all of us. Segregation Families
  13. 13. 13 Isn’t this just an issue of poverty?o No – even if it was, that would not be an adequate answer.o For those living in high poverty neighborhoods, structural factors can significantly inhibit life outcomes.  Low income urban blacks are many times more likely to live in structures where there is little opportunity.  It is not much better for rural blacks or Latinos.
  14. 14. 14Which community would you choose?
  15. 15. 15 A Tale of High and Low Opportunity Structures Low Opportunity High Opportunity• Less the 25% of students in • The year my step daughter Detroit finish high school finished high school, 100% of the students graduated and 100%• More the 60% of the men will went to college spend time in jail • Most will not even drive by a jail• There may soon be no bus service in some areas • Free bus service• It is difficult to attract jobs or • Relatively easy to attract capital private capital • Very safe; great parks• Not safe; very few parks • Easy to get fresh food• Difficult to get fresh food
  16. 16. 16I now live in a high opportunity structure.
  17. 17. 17 Opportunity Matters: Neighborhoods & Access to Opportunityo High poverty areas with poor employment, underperforming schools, distressed housing and public health/safety risks depress life outcomes  A system of disadvantageo People of color are far more likely to live in opportunity deprived neighborhoods and communities
  18. 18. 18
  19. 19. 19A trip in the past or back to the future?The real story of redlining starting with Philadelphia
  20. 20. 20Changes since then…. o Systems have become more complex. Example: mortgage finance went from a 2 to 3 party system Pre-Depression: Two Party Housing MarketParty Party 1 2 Seller Homebuyer (and/or) Lending The Post-Depression FHA Institution Era: Three Party Mortgage Market Party Party Party 1 2 Lending 3 Government Homebuyer Sponsored Institution Institution purchases, insures or underwrites loan
  21. 21. 21 …to this! Today: The web of actors and institutions involved in the sub prime lending and mortgage securitization marketCreated by Chris Peterson, University of Utah Law School
  22. 22. 22 From Redlining to Reverse Redlining: A historical view of redlining zones inPhiladelphia and areas of foreclosure in minority communities.
  23. 23. 23Columbus, OH: Non-White Population & Foreclosures
  24. 24. 24 Why is the growing foreclosure problem More than Just causing problem inForeclosures and a communities of color? Few Bad -Lenders targeted Borrowers: communities of color with subprime loansUnderstanding theCredit Crisis Impact -Lack of loan in Communities of information or understanding for Color consumers in many of these communities Why Were -Communities were Subprime Loans historically starved of Concentrated in credit These -Mortgage securitization Neighborhoods? and the growth of the subprime industry created incentives to 24 target new markets with mortgages
  25. 25. 25Who’s to blame? ************************************************************ The old inequality made the new inequality possible. Photo source: (Madoff) AP
  26. 26. 26Two Views Atomistic Systemic• The problem: bad apples • The problem: poisonous treeColorblindness as the goal. Fix the “soil”.
  27. 27. 27 The structures we live in are actually systems.27 Systems Thinking: The Newtonian Perspective: A D ABCDE C B Linear causation E Causation is reciprocal, mutual, and cumulative.
  28. 28. 28Consider the Broader Contexto We want to avoid negative feedback loops.o A structural analysis is deeply relational and time bound.  Example: the subprime crisis. “People got bad loans.”  A surface view solution: “Stop giving people bad loans.”  Contextualized view (SR analysis) solution: Fix the dual credit market, stop spatial segregation/redlining, work toward stable home-equity building, etc.
  29. 29. 29What are the implications of opportunity isolation? • Poor economic outcomes, lower educational outcomes, degraded asset development • Poor health conditions, higher exposure to and Individual risk from crime • Psychological distress, weak social and professional networks • High social costs, distressed and stressed communities, fiscal challenges Community • Weakened civic engagement and democratic & Economy participation • Underdeveloped human capital, poor labor outlook, poor economic development prospects
  30. 30. 30What are the costs of opportunity isolation? o Individual/family costs  Living in “concentrated disadvantage” reduces student IQ by 4 points, roughly the equivalent to missing one year of school (Sampson 2007) o Societal cost  Neighborhoods of concentrated poverty suppress property values by nearly 400 billion nationwide (Galster et al. 2007)
  31. 31. 31Remedying Opportunity Isolationo Adopt strategies that open up access to levers of opportunity for marginalized individuals, families, and communities  Invest in people, places, and linkages  Bring opportunities to opportunity-deprived areas  Connect people to existing opportunities throughout the metropolitan region  Targeted Universalism
  32. 32. 32
  33. 33. 33
  34. 34. 34Rethinking Structural Arrangementso Bringing people into structures that formerly excluded them may not be enougho Message is: individual is not properly “negotiating” the ladder when the ladder is too narrow or long … and we’re climbing alone  Insensitive, perhaps hostile structural arrangementso We need to re-think structures themselves
  35. 35. 35Questions or Comments?For More Information, Visit Us Online: www.KirwanInstitute.org
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