How Race Shapes the American City

Decades of discriminatory policy and planning decisions have kept many American urban centers segregated and inequitable. In this curated reading list, Fortune staff writer Aric Jenkins examines how race continues to shape the design and infrastructure of American cities—from public spaces to mass transit, housing to architecture—and considers solutions to help make cities more reflective of the people who live there.

America’s Cities Were Designed to Oppress

Bryan Lee Jr. • CityLab

Architects and planners have an obligation to protect health, safety and welfare through the spaces we design. As the George Floyd protests reveal, we’ve failed.

The Latent Racism of the Better Homes in America Program

Manisha Claire • JSTOR Daily

How Better Homes in America—a collaboration between Herbert Hoover and the editor of a conservative women’s magazine—promoted idealized whiteness.

The Criminalization of Gentrifying Neighborhoods

Abdallah Fayyad • The Atlantic

Areas that are changing economically often draw more police—creating conditions for more surveillance and more potential misconduct.

Whose Streets? Black Streets

Amina Yasin • The Tyee

Planners and urbanists, it’s time to reckon with the racism rampant in city building. Here are four actions to take.

America’s Unfair Rules of the Road

Corinne Ramey • Slate

How our transportation system discriminates against the most vulnerable.

Urban Density: Confronting the Distance Between Desire and Disparity

Jay Pitter • Azure

Placemaker and author Jay Pitter argues for an equity-based understanding of urban density during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

America Is More Diverse Than Ever — But Still Segregated

Aaron Williams and Armand Emamdjomeh • The Washington Post

The United States is on track to be a majority-minority nation by 2044. But census data show most of our neighbors are the same race.

Nine Ideas for Making Our City’s Public Space More Race Equitable

Carolina A. Miranda • Los Angeles Times

Conversations in the world of design and urban planning can often get tied up on issues such as bike lanes and height limits, without considering the larger inequities our cities perpetuate — such as the ways in which the public space is policed.

Un-Making Architecture

Wai Architecture Think Tank

An anti-racist architecture manifesto.

About the curator

Aric Jenkins is a staff writer at Fortune magazine, where he has covered transportation and infrastructure and edits the raceAhead newsletter on culture and diversity in corporate America. His most recent magazine feature examined Airbnb and its struggles expanding into cities and new businesses. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Time magazine, Newsweek, and more. Aric lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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