An essay I wrote was published in @PublicSourcePA today: "A moral reckoning is upon us. We must reorient the lens for which we gaze at #Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is not the nation’s most livable city. It is America’s apartheid city." publicsource.org/commentary-jer…
Pittsburgh is America's apartheid city, not the nation's most livable city.
(2) It is a jarring comparison at first blush. The legacy of South Africa’s apartheid had forcibly, by law, separated people by racial classifications and into geographically isolated districts...
(3) How could Pittsburgh possibly compare? At best the contrast seemed historically inaccurate and at worst culturally and racially insensitive...
(4) But, as sociologists Nancy Denton and Douglas Massey once explained in their seminal work, American Apartheid, “Americans have been quick to criticize the apartheid system of South Africa...
(5) [but] they have been reluctant to acknowledge the consequences of their own institutionalized system of racial separation.”
(6) The apartheid comparison is apt if we dig beneath the surface. There, we find irrefutably sobering facts that contradict Pittsburgh’s romanticized moniker of “America’s most livable city.”
(7) A confluence of private and state actions has led to a long history of segregation and discrimination in Pittsburgh. Like Johannesburg, these past practices have established a comparatively “firm basis for a broader system of racial injustice” today.
(8) Although the history of Pittsburgh’s apartheid may not have been “rooted in the legal strictures” of its Johannesburg relative, the city’s policies and practices, like many localities...
(9) that are comparably segregated in the United States and South Africa, have been “no less effective in perpetuating racial inequality.”
(10) Examples abound. The razing of the lower Hill District to make way for an arena was catastrophic to Black Pittsburgh, displacing thousands to isolated grey fortress housing projects. The mass displacement of East Liberty exacerbated racial exclusion...
(11) Aggressive redlining throughout the city quietly pushed Black residents to concentrated pockets, such as Homewood, Larimer and Lincoln-Lemington. Racial steering cornered Black and Brown communities into silos...
(12) Pittsburgh created an “exclusionary zoning” code that maximized the proximity and separation between low-income renters and homeowners in specific neighborhoods to effectively establish de facto racial zoning...
(13) And the acceleration of gentrification in recent decades has made the Pittsburgh region a tale of two cities that mirrors a de facto apartheid city. There were also regional spillover effects...
(14) A decades-long system of housing discrimination practices in predominantly Black suburbs forced poor residents into segregated public housing enclaves in Braddock, Clairton, Rankin and Wilkinsburg...
(15) Illegal school segregation practices quarantined Black children in Braddock and Rankin from the predominantly white suburbs of Forest Hills, Edgewood, Swissvale, Churchill and Turtle Creek to “perpetuate, exacerbate and maximize segregation of school pupils.” ...
(16) The hallmark of South Africa’s apartheid cities was not simply segregation. It was the racial inequalities exacerbated by the segregation...
(17) Likewise, for decades, Pittsburgh sowed a divided urban landscape that contributed to the city producing some of the nation's starkest racial disparities, which have only grown starker as a result of the pandemic disproportionately devastating Black and Brown communities...
(18) Indeed, Black residents in Pittsburgh fall “far below similar cities” in health, income, employment and educational outcomes as a consequence...
(19) More Black children in Pittsburgh grow up in poverty than 95 percent of similar cities, while one-third of Black women live in poverty in the city. They are five times more likely to be poor than white men...
(20) The dire health outcomes linked to poverty between whites and Blacks, a trademark of apartheid, are some of the worst in the country...
(21) Black adult mortality rates are higher in Pittsburgh than almost every other similarly situated city, and Black male homicide rates are some of the highest in the country...
(22) Black mothers are three times more likely compared to white mothers to give birth to extremely low weight babies...
(23) Black infant mortality rate is much higher than white babies in Pittsburgh and across the country, while fetal deaths are two times more likely among Black women compared to white women...
(24) In fact, the inequality between white and Black maternal mortality rates is greater than in most other cities. The disparities extend into the workforce. The city has one of the highest rates of occupational segregation between whites and Blacks in America...
(25) White women make 78 cents to every dollar, while Black women make just 54 cents. Black men have some of the lowest average incomes in the country...
(26) The sharp division in employment and occupational inequality between whites and Blacks also leads to significant differences in educational attainment across race. White men and women are three times more likely to have a college degree than Black men and women...
(27) Black men are two and a half times more likely to drop out of high school than white students...
(28) This is modern American apartheid. A moral reckoning is upon us. We must reorient the lens for which we gaze at Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is not the nation’s most livable city. It is America’s apartheid city...
(29) The future success of any metropolis depends on a moral vision that its residents feel they can identify with and attach themselves to...
(30) It is obvious, then, that our collective moral imperative is to end Pittsburgh’s apartheid and to become a world-class city of racial equality. That is our vision for Pittsburgh. That is our moral imperative...
(31) As a father of two Black daughters, whether we choose to pursue this vision and embrace this imperative will be the defining characteristic of our generation.

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More from @JerrySDickinson

13 Jan
Pittsburgh is an American Apartheid city. Here’s the reality.

(THREAD)
(2) As sociologists Nancy Denton and Doug Massey wrote in their seminal book, American Apartheid, “Although America’s apartheid may not be rooted in the legal strictures of its South African relative, it is no less effective in perpetuating racial inequality.”
(3) Pittsburgh, the city I love, remains one of the most racially segregated cities by neighborhood in America.
Read 20 tweets
7 Jan
THREAD: Some quick notes on what the law says about storming the Capitol. You CANNOT willfully and knowingly entered or remain on the House floor, or any cloakroom or lobby adjacent to the floor UNLESS AUTHORIZED. It’s violent entry and disorderly conduct in violation of fed law.
(2) You also cannot enter or remain in the gallery of either the House or Senate in violation of rules governing admission to the gallery...
(3) You can’t do all this with the intent to disrupt the orderly conduct of official business, enter or remain in a room in any of the Capitol Buildings set aside or designated for the use by either House Member, committee, officer, or employee of Congress...
Read 9 tweets
28 Nov 20
Breaking News: Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismisses @SeanParnellUSA and @MikeKellyPA lawsuit seeking to disenfranchise millions of PA voters! This was the right decision.

Here it is: pacourts.us/assets/files/s…

I’ll follow up with an analysis below.
Here is the concurring statement from Justice Wecht. pacourts.us/assets/files/s…
Here is Chief Justice Saylor’s concurring and dissenting statement. pacourts.us/assets/files/s…
Read 29 tweets
28 Nov 20
The last week has exposed not so subtle efforts to subvert democracy in PA. Yesterday, a lower court signaled it agreed with GOP that mail-in ballots were unlawful (they are not). Today, a GOP member has openly called for the assembly to appoint electors to Electoral College...
(2) These are perfect examples of democratic “backsliding” as coined by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt. These efforts of subversion are dangerous because they are typically legal, meaning they can be approved by the assembly or accepted by the courts...
(3) Further, this form of backsliding focuses on the ballot box. The goal is to, in bad faith, undermine elections by portraying the need for election reform to improve democracy, clean up electoral process and combat unsubstantiated corruption — ie sow doubt into the election.
Read 5 tweets
27 Nov 20
Just heard news that Third Circuit affirmed Judge Brann’s dismissal of Trump federal lawsuit seeking to upend the election. Another feather in the cap towards ending this post-election nonsense.
(2) Judge Bibas, who wrote the panel opinion, starts with “Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy. Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.”
(3) He ends the opinion noting “public interest strongly favors finality, counting every lawful voter’s vote, and not disenfranchising millions of Pennsylvania voters who voted by mail. Plus, discarding those votes could disrupt every other election on the ballot.”
Read 4 tweets
19 Nov 20
Nice piece by @JulietteRihl. This hits close to home. Over the last 15 years I’ve either purchased books for a few of my adoptive brothers incarcerated at SCIs or sent $$$ via JPay so they could buy books. 😔
(2) That’s the personal. Now, for the legal. As I mention in this article, “If the county was precluding free religious books altogether, then that changes the analysis.” Indeed, inmates have constitutional protections to read the text books of their faith...
(3) But, the US Supreme Court precedent, as of right now, says constitutional rights of prisoners are more limited than the rights of other non-incarcerated individuals. I don’t particularly agree with this as a matter of law, but it’s precedent.
Read 8 tweets

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