Displaced and Disinvested: Understanding Racial Inequality in Rural Pennsylvania

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American University, 2016 - Families, Black - 202 pages
Inequality plagues the United States and has resulted in negative, unproductive relationships between raced groups. One of the ways in which racism has operated is through federal housing policy that overwhelmingly aided in the well-being of white middle and working class families through the subsidization of segregated suburbs and more recently through the promotion of displacement from public housing converted to mixed-use. White America is largely unaware of these factors that have benefited their families for generations but that over time have come at an exorbitant cost to families of color. When black families migrated away from their home cities to escape concentrated poverty and to take advantage of affordable housing availability, white families in rural areas expressed alarm due to racial stereotypes as well as ignorance of the historical factors that led black families to move into white communities. These rural locations also struggled economically, reeling from decades of disinvestment, in which steel mills in nearby cities were gradually shut down. Deindustrialization sent these communities into physical and economic ruin, creating feelings of insecurity that amplified into racism upon the in-migration of black families. When made aware of the presence and implications of systemic racism, individuals can use their collective voices to affect change. The goal of this dissertation is to inspire individuals, community leaders, and policymakers in the development of better informed policies around poverty and to better understand how racism is perpetuated at individual and institutional levels that are ultimately a detriment to all Americans.

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