When Racist Infrastructure Kept Negroes From Equal Access To New Yorks Best Beach

  

Category:  News & Politics

By:  john-russell  •  4 weeks ago  •  17 comments

When Racist Infrastructure Kept Negroes From Equal Access To New Yorks Best Beach

  1. Buttigieg says infrastructure bill will address racist ...




    Transportation Secretary Pete   Buttigieg   said on Monday that his agency would use a portion of the $1.2 trillion   infrastructure   bill to address   racial inequities   in U.S. highway design. Why it...

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In his remarks Buttigieg specifically referenced the bridges that would access Jones Beach in Long Island. He didnt mention Jones Beach by name but he did say a beach in New York. 

Now, lets look at the description of this case in the book The Power Broker by the historian Robert Caro. The book is a biography of a man named Robert Moses who was an urban planner responsible for much , if not all, of the modern planning of the transportation layout of the New York City area in the  first half of the 20th century. 




Underlying Moses' strikingly strict policing for cleanliness in his parks was,
Frances Perkins realized with "shock," deep distaste for the public that was using
them. "He doesn't love the people," she was to say. "It used to shock me because
he was doing all these things for the welfare of the people. . . . He'd denounce
the common people terribly. To him they were lousy, dirty people, throwing
bottles all over Jones Beach. 'I'll get them! I'll teach them!'... He loves the public,
but not as people. The public is just the public. It's a great amorphous mass to
him; it needs to be bathed, it needs to be aired, it needs recreation, but not for
personal reasons—just to make it a better public."



Now he began taking measures to limit use of his parks. He had restricted the use of state parks by poor and lower-middle-class families in the first place, by limiting access to the
parks by rapid transit; he had vetoed the Long Island Rail Road's proposed
construction of a branch spur to Jones Beach for this reason.



Now he began to limit access by buses; he instructed Shapiro to build the bridges across his new parkways low—too low for buses to pass. Bus trips therefore had to be made on local roads, making the trips discouragingly long and arduous.

For Negroes, whom he considered inherently "dirty," there were further measures. Buses needed permits to enter state parks; buses chartered by Negro groups found it very difficult to obtain permits, particularly to Moses' beloved Jones Beach; most were shunted to parks many miles further out on Long Island. And even in these parks, buses carrying Negro groups were shunted to the furthest reaches of the parking areas.


And Negroes were discouraged from using "white" beach areas—the best beaches—by a system Shapiro calls "flagging"; the handful of Negro lifeguards (there were only a handful of Negro employees among the thousands employed by the Long Island State Park Commission) were all stationed at distant, least developed beaches.


Moses was convinced that Negroes did not like cold water; the temperature at the pool at Jones Beach was deliberately icy to keep Negroes out. When Negro civic groups from the hot New York City slums began to complain about this treatment, Roosevelt ordered an investigation and an aide confirmed that "Bob Moses is seeking to discourage large Negro parties from picnicking at Jones Beach, attempting to divert them to some other of the state parks."


Roosevelt gingerly raised the matter with Moses, who denied the charge violently—and the Governor never raised the matter again.





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JohnRussell
Professor Principal
1  author  JohnRussell    4 weeks ago

In the book , written in 1974 , Robert Caro completely verifies what Pete Buttigieg said. 

Yet we are told we dont need a better history of race in America. Tucker Carlson was literally gaslighting his audience to attack Buttigieg. 

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
2  Sean Treacy    4 weeks ago

Better take this down.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
3  author  JohnRussell    4 weeks ago

www.planetizen.com   /news/2021/11/115252-robert-moses-robert-caro-back-news-along-debate-about-systemic-racism

Robert Moses, Robert Caro Back in the News, Along With a Debate About Systemic Racism

November 10, 2021, 12:00 PM PST By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell 5-7 minutes


Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg set off a social media frenzy by referencing an anecdote from "The Power Broker." While some didn't understand the reference, others repeated long-standing questions about the source.


https://www.planetizen.com/files/styles/large/public/images/Pete-Buttigieg.jpg?itok=D9q7pdy2 992w">

By now you've probably seen the clip of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (in a   video posted by the Twitter account of The Hill ) referencing one of the most famous anecdotes from Robert Caro's   The Power Broker   as evidence of the racist intentions of planning and design decisions—a theme that Buttigieg has already   spoken on repeatedly during his first year in the position . Here's the text of what Buttigieg said during a press conference about the new transportation funding available in the   recently approved Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act :

I’m still surprised that some people were surprised when I pointed to the fact that if a highway was built for the purpose of dividing a White and a Black neighborhood, or if an underpass was constructed such that a bus carrying mostly Black and Puerto Rican kids to a beach — or it would have been — in New York, was designed too low for it to pass by, that that obviously reflects racism that went into those design choices. I don’t think we have anything to lose by confronting that simple reality.”

Secretary Buttiegieg is, of course, referring to an anecdote in   The Power Broker   that tells a story about Robert Moses instructing project managers to lower bridge clearances on the Southern State Parkway near Jones Beach State Park to block the access of buses—potentially carrying the Black and Puerto Rican children mentioned by Buttigieg.

The pushback from the right side of the political aisle was swift, with Republicans such as   Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ,   Senator Ted Cruz   (R-Texas), and hosts of the   Fox News show "The Five"   taking aim at the transportation secretary.

Many who have studied   The Power Broker   and know the history of racism in the planning programs of not just Robert Moses in New York, but all over the country, rushed to clarify the record.   Philip Bump wrote for The Washington Post   that the entire episode proved the need for a national discussion about institutionalized racism.   Ellen McGirt wrote for Fortune   [paywall] that Buttigieg understands the assignment of addressing racial inequity.   Ahmed Baba wrote for Yahoo News   that Buttigieg is right, and Senator Cruz and Tucker Carlson are wrong.

As noted in an   article by Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler , however, many believe the anecdote from   The Power Broker   to be apocryphal. The footnotes from the book list the source for the anecdote as just one person, Sidney M. Shapiro, whom Kessler describes as a "close Moses associate and former chief engineer and general manager of the Long Island State Park Commission." The lack of double verification or written verification of Moses's instruction regarding the bridge have long contributed to a debate about the veracity of the claim. Kessler details the researchers who have attempted to verify the anecdote, finding reputable sources on either side of the issue.

To argue that the anecdote is apocryphal, Kessler cites Bernward Joerges, a German professor of sociology who examined the saga of the bridges in 1999. "In  an essay , he acknowledged Moses was an 'undemocratic scoundrel' and a 'structural racist' but argues that all parkways at the time had low bridges," writes Kessler.

To argue that the anecdote is factual, Kessler cites the work of Thomas J. Campanella, a Cornell University historian of city planning and author the 2019 book   Brooklyn: The Once and Future City . According to Kessler, Campanella "recorded clearances for 20 bridges, viaducts and overpasses on other parkways built at the time and compared them to measures of the 20 original bridges and overpasses on the Southern State Parkway. It turned out clearances are substantially lower on the Moses parkway."

While the veracity of this particular anecdote is subject to debate, the question of whether roads and highways have been designed with racist intentions is well established. Kessler seems to be implying that the existence of structural racism deserves more careful attention by those in positions of power, like Buttigieg: "Buttigieg should tailor his remarks to reflect what is historically unimpeachable — and we should be more careful to double-check on the latest views of historians. Even a Pulitzer Prize-winning book is not always the last word on a subject."

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
4  author  JohnRussell    4 weeks ago

Not taking the seed down.

Kessler cites Bernward Joerges, a German professor of sociology who examined the saga of the bridges in 1999. "In an essay, he acknowledged Moses was an 'undemocratic scoundrel' and a 'structural racist'
 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
4.1  Sean Treacy  replied to  JohnRussell @4    4 weeks ago

Somehow missed this part of his statement, huh?

"U.S. civil engineers with whom I have corresponded regularly produce two simple explanations for the rationality of the low-hanging bridges: that commercial traffic was excluded from the parkways anyway; and that the generally good transport situation on Long Island forbade the very considerable cost of raising the bridges … Moses did nothing different on Long Island from any parks commissioner in the country. … In sum: Moses could hardly have let buses on his parkways, even if he had wanted differently.”

Or this:

Kenneth T. Jackson , a Columbia University  historian  who has said that generations of his students have failed to confirm episodes in Caro’s book, also says the overpass story is not true.

“Caro is wrong,” he wrote in an email. “Arnold Vollmer, the landscape architect who was in charge of design for the bridges, said the height was due to cost.” He added: “ Also, you can still get to Jones Beach by train and bus, as you always could."

It's an urban myth, literally. Even Kessler, the liberal pundit, backed off his partisan kneejerk defense of Buttegig as soon as he actually looked into it. 

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
4.1.1  author  JohnRussell  replied to  Sean Treacy @4.1    4 weeks ago

1. The passage in Caro's book is in dispute.

2. It is only one of many instances in the book that depict Caro, who was responsible for the infrastructure of modern New York City, as being racist and incorporating racism into his infrastructure decisions. 

3. There are many other examples of racism applied to roads and other infrastructure around the country. 

People who dont like the seeded article are free to express their objections. 

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
4.1.2  author  JohnRussell  replied to  Sean Treacy @4.1    4 weeks ago
Even Kessler, the liberal pundit, backed off his partisan kneejerk defense of Buttegig as soon as he actually looked into it. 

Kessler comes to no conclusion as to the Caro book passage. 

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
4.1.3  Sean Treacy  replied to  JohnRussell @4.1.2    4 weeks ago
essler comes to no conclusion as to the Caro book passage

Which speaks volumes, given his full throated endorsement of it before he looked into it.  The comedy of a "fact checker" defending a claim before actually looking at the facts speaks for itself. 

This is after all Glen Kessler, a liberal apologist. If there was a possible way to defend this myth as legitimate without losing all credibility, he would have. Instead he punted. 

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
5  author  JohnRussell    4 weeks ago

www.washingtonpost.com   /politics/2021/11/08/this-is-why-its-useful-talk-about-historic-examples-institutionalized-racism/

And this is why it’s useful to talk about historical examples of institutionalized racism

Philip Bump 6-8 minutes   11/8/2021


Speaking at a White House news briefing Monday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg described how the recently passed federal   spending bill   would allow his agency to address a number of issues and problems marring the country’s infrastructure. In response to a question, he acknowledged that that potentially meant doing away with the racism that guided past decisions on how roads and bridges were built.

The question was asked because Buttigieg has mentioned those design decisions before.

“I’m still surprised that some people were surprised when I pointed to the fact that if a highway was built for the purpose of dividing a White and a Black neighborhood,” he said, “or if an underpass was constructed such that a bus carrying mostly Black and Puerto Rican kids to a beach — or it would have been — in New York, was designed too low for it to pass by, that that obviously reflects racism that went into those design choices. I don’t think we have anything to lose by confronting that simple reality.”

When the Hill shared a video of Buttigieg making that claim, it quickly (again)   became a focus   of mockery among   right-wing   commentators   and some   Republican politicians . But in short order, Buttigieg’s comments also served as an opportunity not only to elevate the specific story to which he was referring but the utility of educating Americans about a complicated history of systemic racism.

The secretary was referring to a story from Robert Caro’s “The Power Broker,” a book that is generally recognized as one of the premier examples of journalism in modern American history. It centers on Robert Moses, a mid-century New York City official who set out to reshape how the city’s residents moved — mostly successfully. In that book, Caro describes one particular goal of Moses’s: keeping poor Black people from busing to Long Island’s Jones Beach.

Moses “had restricted the use of state parks by poor and lower-middle-class families in the first place, by limiting access to the parks by rapid transit,” Caro   wrote , “he had vetoed the Long Island Rail Road’s proposed construction of a branch spur to Jones Beach for this reason. Now he began to limit access by buses; he instructed [general manager of the Long Island State Park Commission Sidney] Shapiro to build the bridges across his new parkways low — too low for buses to pass. Bus trips therefore had to be made on local roads, making the trips discouragingly long and arduous.”

What’s more, buses needed permits to enter parks, permits that were often denied to those bringing Black residents to Jones Beach.

In 2017, a reporter for Bloomberg News decided to   test the veracity   of this anecdote, described to Caro by Shapiro himself. Thomas Campanella found that it was true. While Moses was content to have buses be able to access other parks, the bridges along the main parkway to Jones Beach were significantly lower than the Westchester County bridges on which they were modeled. “There is just a single structure of under eight feet (96 inches) clearance on all three Westchester parkways,” Campanella wrote, while “on the Southern State there are four.”

When Buttigieg first argued this spring that infrastructure on some occasions reflected decisions rooted in racism, he had done so only in the abstract, saying that there was racism “physically built” into the country’s roads. He was mocked — and then   determined   to have been speaking truthfully. Now, though, even with this very specific and quite famous example in hand, his political opponents offered a similar response.

It is in fact surprising that they should. The idea that American cities made decisions about transportation that indirectly affected non-White residents negatively is not particularly controversial — nor is the idea that some decisions   directly   and intentionally targeted them.

Historian Kevin Kruse   wrote about   the history of using infrastructure as a tool to bolster racist policies for the New York Times in 2019. He described specific decisions to route highways through poor (and heavily non-White) neighborhoods, razing them to the ground. But it didn’t end there.

“While Interstates were regularly used to destroy black neighborhoods, they were also used to keep black and white neighborhoods apart,” Kruse wrote. “Today, major roads and highways serve as stark dividing lines between black and white sections in cities like Buffalo, Hartford, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and St. Louis.”

His article was focused on Atlanta but, as above, it is peppered with other examples from other places. In Detroit, for example, a wall built to keep Black and White residents apart nearly a century ago is   still standing .

Kruse’s article was part of the Times’s “1619 Project,” an effort to elevate examples of structural racism that led to a massive backlash on the right and seeded the current effort to demand a teaching of American history that avoids close examination of issues of race. The furor over critical race theory, an intellectual movement whose name has been appropriated to refer to a broad, nebulous pool of educational discussion of issues of race, can be traced back to the political fight over the “1619 Project” that former president Donald Trump amplified in 2020. Trump’s goal was obvious: use the reexamination of American history as a way to stoke the insecurities of White voters who saw questions about historical racism as somehow destabilizing. Now, the fight involves states passing laws preventing educators from teaching critical race theory, and it involves parents attending school board meetings to express anger about what they believe their kids are being taught.

The renewed Buttigieg kerfuffle should serve as a counterweight to that effort. It is not only obviously true that American governmental bodies used infrastructure spending as a way to bolster both directly and indirectly racist policies, but it is an equally obvious truth that such systemic decisions have often been ignored in the teaching of the country’s history. The “1619 Project” was meant to help elevate some of that history and, in doing so, it elevated the debate over its teaching.

That proved irresistible to the political right. But as the example of Moses and Buttigieg demonstrates, opponents of teaching this history keep showing why it needs to be.

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
5.1  Sean Treacy  replied to  JohnRussell @5    4 weeks ago
nd this is why it’s useful to talk about historical examples of institutionalized racism

That he's relying on made up stories with no factual basis makes the opposite point of the one he think's making. 

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
5.1.1  author  JohnRussell  replied to  Sean Treacy @5.1    4 weeks ago

The factual basis is the passage in the Caro book, which is attributed to Robert Moses top aide. 

It is certainly possible that the passage in the Caro book is incorrect, having come from only one source, albeit from someone who claims to have been personally involved in the planning for the bridges. 

People can decide for themselves. The book also gives other examples of how Moses wanted to prevent or discourage blacks from going to Jones Beach, aside from the bridges. The book goes into considerable detail about Moses racism. There is also this

When Negro civic groups from the hot New York City slums began to complain about this treatment, Roosevelt ordered an investigation and an aide confirmed that "Bob Moses is seeking to discourage large Negro parties from picnicking at Jones Beach, attempting to divert them to some other of the state parks."
 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
5.1.2  author  JohnRussell  replied to  Sean Treacy @5.1    4 weeks ago
Robert Moses had always displayed a genius for adorning his creations with little details that made them fit in with their setting, that made the people who used them feel at home in them. There was a little detail on the playhouse-comfort station in the Harlem section of Riverside Park that is found nowhere else in the park. The wrought-iron trellises of the park’s other playhouses and comfort stations are decorated with designs like curling waves.

The wrought-iron trellises of the Harlem playhouse-comfort station are decorated with monkeys.

"Robert Moses Is A Racist Whatever" (kottke.org)
 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
5.1.3  author  JohnRussell  replied to  JohnRussell @5.1.1    4 weeks ago

www.bloomberg.com   /news/articles/2017-07-09/robert-moses-and-his-racist-parkway-explained

Robert Moses and His Racist Parkway, Explained.

Thomas J. Campanella 8-10 minutes   7/9/2017


This summer, as New Yorkers head out to Long Island’s beach towns and parks on the Southern State Parkway, they’ll pass beneath a series of overpass bridges made infamous in Robert A. Caro’s monumental 1974 biography of Robert Moses,   The Power Broker .

In one of the book's most memorable passages, Caro reveals that Moses ordered his engineers to build the bridges low over the parkway to keep buses from the city away from Jones Beach—buses presumably filled with the poor blacks and Puerto Ricans Moses despised. The story was told to Caro by Sidney M. Shapiro, a close Moses associate and former chief engineer and general manager of the Long Island State Park Commission.

Caro's 1,300-page, Pulitzer-winning book is still the definitive account of how Moses, who never held elected office (and never learned to drive), modernized Gotham for the motor age. No figure in U.S. history wielded more power over a city; none better exemplifies the famous epitaph on Sir Christopher Wren’s tomb at St. Paul's:   si monumentum requiris, circumspice   (“if you seek his monument, look about you”). Fifty years after Moses left the stage, millions daily still use his parks, playgrounds, bridges, tunnels, and expressways. It is simply not possible to spend more than a few hours in New York without being exposed to the vast legacy of this latter-day Trajan.

Lives of such titanic scale and complexity require equally mammoth biographies. They also demand pithy takeaways—kernels so densely representative that they can stand for the whole. The low-bridge story is a microbiography of Moses, a tragic hero who built for the ages, but for a narrowly construed public. It also shows how something as inert as a stone-faced bridge can be alive with politics and meaning.

But I’ve always had doubts about the veracity of the Jim Crow bridge story. There is little question that Moses held patently bigoted views. But to what extent were those prejudices embedded in his public works? Very much so, according to Caro, who described Moses as “ the most racist human being I had ever really encountered .” The evidence is legion: minority neighborhoods bulldozed for urban renewal projects; simian-themed details in a Harlem playground; elaborate attempts to discourage non-whites from certain parks and pools. He complained of his works sullied by “that scum floating up from Puerto Rico.”

But Moses was complex. He gave Harlem a glorious pool and play center—now Jackie Robinson Park—one of the best public works of the New Deal era anywhere in the United States. A crowd of 25,000 attended the opening ceremony in August, 1936, the 369th Regiment Band playing “When the Music Goes ‘Round and ‘Round” before Parks Commissioner Moses was introduced—to great applause—by Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.

And contrary to a claim in   The Power Broker , Moses clearly meant buses to serve his “little Jones Beach” in the Rockaways—Jacob Riis Park. While oriented mainly toward motorists (the parking lot was once the largest in the world), it is simply not true that New Yorkers without cars were excluded. The original site plan included bus drop-off zones, and photographs from the era plainly show buses loading and unloading passengers. “Bus connections with the B.M.T. and I.R.T. in Brooklyn,” reported the Brooklyn Eagle when the vast seaside playground opened 80 years ago this summer, “make the park easily accessible to non-motorists.”

Further complicating the bridge story is the history of the American motor parkway. The Southern State, begun in the summer of 1926, was not as boldly inventive as Caro and others have claimed. It was, rather, copied whole-cloth from several prototypes in Westchester County. The Bronx, Hutchinson, and Saw Mill River parkways were all either completed or under construction when Moses began planning the Southern State. These were revolutionary roads—set in broad park-like reservations, with grade-separated intersections and access limited to interchanges. They were among the first modern highways in the world, emulated far and wide.

-1x-1.jpg

When Moses created the Long Island State Park Commission in 1924, he naturally turned to Westchester for guidance. He even tried to recruit the design genius behind its vast park and parkway system—Gilmore D. Clarke.

Clarke agreed to be a consultant, which is why the Southern State—the first Moses parkway on Long Island—is nearly identical to those Clarke laid out north of the city. Right down to the bridges.

Low-slung and clad in ashlar stone, the bridges were essential to parkway stagecraft—part of a suite of details meant to create a sense of romantic rusticity. The parkway was just that—a   way   through a   park . It was designed to both literally and figuratively remove you from the city, a Central Park for the motorist. Berms and lush plantings screened off-site views disruptive of the reverie, creating an almost cinematic impression of driving through a vast pastoral landscape.

As leisure and recreation infrastructure—park before way—commercial traffic was excluded on all the early American parkways. This meant not only trucks, but buses. Banning big, noisy commercial vehicles was essential to the aesthetics of the parkway, and had nothing to do with racial discrimination. There would have been no need to use the bridges on the Southern State as barricades of a sort; buses were not allowed on this or any other state parkway in the first place.

But Moses was no fool. “Legislation can always be changed,” Shapiro told Caro; “It’s very hard to tear down a bridge once it’s up.” So did Moses use cement and stone to effectively backstop the vehicular exclusion policy, insuring that the Southern State could never be used to schlep busloads of poor folk to Jones Beach?

I decided to test this by comparing bridge clearances on the Southern State to those on the three earlier Westchester roads.  Mengisteab Debessay, an engineer with New York State Department of Transportation, directed me to a   database of bridge clearances   statewide used for route planning—thus sparing me a time-consuming windshield survey. A measure of the minimum height between the pavement and the bottom of the overpass structure, clearances tend to change only modestly with road resurfacings.  Unless a bridge is upgraded or replaced, clearances remain stable over time.

-1x-1.jpg

Limiting my search to only those arched stone or brick-clad structures in place or under construction when Moses began work on the Southern State, I recorded clearances for a total of 20 bridges, viaducts and overpasses: 7 on the Bronx River Parkway (completed in 1925); 6 on the initial portion of the Saw Mill River Parkway (1926) and 7 on the Hutchinson River Parkway (begun in 1924 and opened in 1927). I then took measure of the 20 original bridges and overpasses on the Southern State Parkway, from its start at the city line in Queens to the Wantagh Parkway, the first section to open (on November 7, 1927) and the portion used to reach Jones Beach. The verdict? It appears that Sid Shapiro was right.

Overall, clearances are substantially lower on the Moses parkway, averaging just 107.6 inches (eastbound), against 121.6 inches on the Hutchinson and 123.2 inches on the Saw Mill. Even on the Bronx River Parkway—a road championed by an infamous racist, Madison Grant, author of the 1916 best seller   The Passing of the Great Race —clearances averaged 115.6 inches. There is just a single structure of under eight feet (96 inches) clearance on all three Westchester parkways; on the Southern State there are four.

There are today, of course, many routes to Jones Beach. The Southern State Parkway is still the swiftest and most scenic, for all its crazed drivers and constant commuter traffic. It is also a monument to a brilliant, misguided soul, a man whose works are part of every New Yorker’s life, who’s own life was dedicated to serving a public whose constituents he mostly loathed.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
6  author  JohnRussell    4 weeks ago

news.yahoo.com   /buttigieg-america-roads-racist-ted-182346200.html

Buttigieg is right — America’s roads are racist. Ted Cruz and Tucker Carlson are pretending to misunderstand

Ahmed Baba 6-7 minutes   11/9/2021


81b1b679d92956f3fe10238a435561c0

EEUU-MUERTES DE TRÁNSITO (AP)

Another day, another manufactured right-wing outrage about America’s history of systemic racism. On Monday, White House correspondent for   The Grio   April Ryan   asked   Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg how the infrastructure bill will “deconstruct the racism that was built into the roadways.” Secretary Buttigieg, who has talked about this issue before, delivered a response that would set right-wing Twitter on fire with white-hot rage.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) sarcastically   tweeted , “The roads are racist. We must get rid of roads.” Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson, who has himself sparked backlash over the past year for   echoing   the white supremacist Great Replacement theory,   tweeted   a video segment mocking Secretary Buttigieg’s remarks, adding: “Inanimate objects, like roads, can’t be racist. That seems obvious, though apparently Pete Buttigieg doesn’t know this.”

Actually, Buttigieg does know this, and so does everyone else who has rightfully pointed out the history of systemic racism in America’s infrastructure. It’s a typical strategy of right-wing figures to drastically underestimate the intelligence of their base and push the most simple-minded explanation of a given topic. Obviously, inanimate objects like roads can’t be racist, but the intent and strategy that goes into how some roads are constructed can be, and were, absolutely racist.

The example that Secretary Buttigieg cited about the low overpass came straight from “The Power Broker,” Robert Caro’s famous 1974   biography on New York City official Robert Moses . This specific claim has drawn scrutiny for decades and was   confirmed   to be true by Bloomberg’s Thomas J. Campanella in 2017, as   The Washington Post’s   Philip Bump   pointed out in his piece   on Secretary Buttigieg’s comments.

Not only was Buttigieg’s anecdote backed by evidence, but the extent of this problem also goes far beyond Robert Moses. The issue of systemic racism in America’s highways is well-known. Deborah N. Archer, a professor at the NYU School of Law, has written extensively about this issue. In a lengthy   paper outlining how racial equity can be advanced through highway reconstruction , Professor Archer delivered an in-depth look a how many highways across the country were built with racist intent, writing: “In states around the country, highway construction displaced Black households and cut the heart and soul out of thriving Black communities as homes, churches, schools, and businesses were destroyed. In other communities, the highway system was a tool of a segregationist agenda, erecting a wall that separated white and Black communities and protected white people from Black migration.”

Highways are just the tip of this systemically racist iceberg. There’s also   redlining , which is the decades-long racist practice where banks denied Black families loans to purchase or renovate homes based on their race or where they lived. It was once government-backed. This heightened the segregation of American neighborhoods, ramifications we’re still grappling with today.

Redlining also impacted which neighborhoods received funding for local projects because it made it simple for government officials to determine who lived where. As we can see with our own eyes walking through neighborhoods of different wealth and racial demographics, it’s clear the wealthier, whiter areas have cleaner streets and more well-kept infrastructure.

There is also the issue of sundown towns. The   Associated Press   described   it succinctly in their deep dive into the modern impacts of this racist practice: “The rules of a sundown town were simple: Black people were allowed to pass through during the day or go in to shop or work, but they had to be gone by nightfall. Anyone breaking the rules could risk arrest, a beating or worse.”

How is all that relevant, and how can infrastructure have racist impacts? These racist practices impacted where Black people lived, where they were able to work, the way they commuted to work, the accessibility of services, where they were able to shop, how they could travel, and the overall quality of their lives. “I’m still surprised that some people were surprised when I pointed to the fact that if a highway was built for the purpose of dividing a white and a Black neighborhood, or if an underpass was constructed such that a bus carrying mostly Black and Puerto Rican kids to a beach — or that would have been — in New York was designed too low for it to pass by, that obviously reflects racism that went into those design choices,” Secretary Buttigieg said.

Once again, we’ve all been gifted with a great opportunity to elevate objective reality in the face of disinformation and historical denialism. Republicans are currently advocating for the banning of certain teachings of systemic racism in schools. Their ignorant response to Secretary Buttigieg’s accurate statements about racism in America’s infrastructure just proved why it’s so important to teach this.

Those who acknowledge America’s history of systemic racism don’t hate America. On the contrary, we love it enough to point out these uncomfortable truths so we can pursue that seemingly elusive, more perfect union. How can we make improvements if so many Americans deny the existence of these flaws? It’s time for us to get on the same page.

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
Professor Guide
7  Paula Bartholomew    4 weeks ago

I don't like cold water either and I'm white.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
7.1  author  JohnRussell  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @7    4 weeks ago

I assume that most people dont like cold water in the swimming pool. 

The anecdote though is saying that the water in the pool was kept cold to keep blacks out, not to keep everyone out. 

 
 
 
Jack_TX
Junior Quiet
8  Jack_TX    4 weeks ago
Transportation Secretary Pete   Buttigieg   said on Monday that his agency would use a portion of the $1.2 trillion   infrastructure   bill to address   racial inequities   in U.S. highway design.

We're gonna replace "racist" highways with "non-racist" highways.  Oh good grief.

See, this is why we can't have nice things.  What we're telling average Americans is that they can either vote for Donald Trump or listen to how even the roads are racist.  For fuck's sake.  

James Carville is in tears right now.

Keep shit like this up and there will be 6 Democrats left in Congress by 2023.

 
 
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