Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment. Summary

The article “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment” by Sarah Schindler, shows us how some cities are built and conducted to promote segregation and discrimination. It also gives us information on a few cities that are predominantly African American and how this architectural exclusion affects the people there. It also goes on to show how these cases dodged the supreme court’s eye leading them to not challenge any of the issues. As you read through the article you learn more about how this exclusion takes place throughout the history of our country.

In Atlanta, Georgia the use of MARTA does not travel into the northern suburban communities due to the face that, “wealthy, mostly white residents of the northern Atlanta suburbs have vocally opposed efforts to expand MARTA into their neighborhoods for the reason that doing so would give people of color easy access to suburban communities”(Schindler). In 1974 in  Memphis, Tennessee a whole street was closed off because it connected a predominately white neighborhood to a primary black neighborhood, because the “cause” was to promote safety and reduce traffic and noise within their community. This caught the attention of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and he thought that this carried a “powerful symbolic message.”

The Supreme Court just saw these instances as normal and innocent efforts for advancement and building cities; but it actually was using design tactics to separate the, less fortunate, African Americans (and other minorities). And since the designs are viewed as common city, and community, enhancements, it was easy to slip right from under the eyes of the Supreme Court. Buildings were built in subtle ways that kept people from realizing what was really being created; some of the ways this was done are as followed: the absence and lack of sidewalks, crosswalks, transit into certain locations, and the requirement of residential parking permits. All these architectural constructs, “can shape the demographics of a city and isolate a neighborhood from those surrounding it, often intentionally”(Schindler).

In our history as Americans, and even just as merely being human-beings, on a the daily we exclude things that we do not want in our lives in a multitude of different ways; whether it is subconscious or not. These ways can be as simple as regulating what we watch on television to who we chose to hang around. We exclude the things that we do not like- which thus becomes human nature. Social norms also build in these places and once something new is introduced, many actions are made to keep those things that may change the environment we are in away and in somewhat controlled environments. We tend to either exclude those things or simply get rid of them all together. Sometimes highways are built in the poor parts of a city to force people to move away from that location; whether it’s due to complaints of noise or just being able to escape the environment. This also can be due to eviction that allows the city to buy out said  poorer sect of a town, which in turn could, unfortunately, bring down the property value in a nice neighborhood.

Sarah Schindler’s main focus and point was on the somehow slyness of corporations and individuals to close off undesirable places within a large community. The reasons that these companies and individuals get away with their inclosing of certain populations is because of the way that they choose to approach the situation. Instead of simply proclaiming that they do not want the lower class, mainly minority, groups to be able to access their more wealthy parts of town, many people-usually of wealth and class- choose to focus on architecturally making it nearly impossible for said lower class citizens to move around outside of their “living areas”. People decide that it is easier and less noticeable to cut off resources to these people by using, what seems like, advancements rather than being completely outright with their intentions.

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SCHINDLER, SARAH. “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination And Segregation Through Physical Design Of The Built Environment.” Yale Law Journal 124.6 (2015): 1934-2024, pp. 1934-1972. Academic Search Complete. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.

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