A coworker yesterday pointed me to this publisher’s note that Wick wrote 10 years ago this month in D Magazine and suggested we repost it here. As with this post, the publisher’s note was titled “Why Are All the Best Neighborhoods in Dallas Still Segregated?” My first thought was “Heck, yeah. Why are all the best neighborhoods still segregated?” Wick made some great points about homeowners subsidizing racial discrimination at the Dallas Country Club (which doesn’t itself pay property taxes), and he called on religious leaders and the mayors of Dallas, Highland Park, and University Park to make their best neighborhoods more inclusive. I thought that Wick’s message resonated.
Then I started poking around and asking myself a few questions. First off, what Wick was really asking was “Why are all the richest neighborhoods segregated?” He singled out four: Preston Hollow, Greenway Parks, HP, and UP. Wait a second. What about Lakewood? Pretty good little neighborhood. And I have to rep my own Eastwood, which is even cheaper. And then there’s Kessler Park and — you know, there are some great neighborhoods around Dallas. I won’t say there’s no connection between household income and desirability, but I’d like to put a little more distance between “best” and “richest.” They aren’t the same thing.
The second problem that I saw with Wick’s piece became clear to me when I looked at this block-by-block map of race distribution in Dallas. It’s not just the “best” neighborhoods that are segregated. The entire city is segregated. Go ahead. Find your own neighborhood on that map. What does it look like? So, really, the question in the headline should be “Why is Dallas Still Segregated?” And that, friends, is a question cities all across America should be wrestling with.
Here’s a documentary you should watch. It’s called Bonton + Ideal, and it’s about how White racists created two poor neighborhoods in Dallas, Bonton and Ideal. As the intro to the film says, “Jim Crow segregation. Discriminatory housing policies. Racial violence. These are inescapable elements of America’s urban history. In every city, it’s the same story, manifesting in a different way.”