In the sphere of sociology, the term “segregation” denotes various discriminatory attitudes and treatments that African Americans and many other minority groups face on the territory of the USA. Despite the availability of supportive legal statuses and regulations, the degree of segregation among African Americans in the USA remains extremely high. The given paper aims to shed light on historical background, essence, and consequences of housing segregation on society. Moreover, much attention will be paid to several other types of racial inequalities and their relation to the phenomenon of segregation.
Taking into consideration the definition of the term, housing segregation means the process that is closely intertwined with separation of people on the basis of their “housing opportunities” (Williams & Collins, 2001, p. 405). Unfortunately, even in the 21st century, not all racial groups and minorities have equal access to housing because of numerous reasons, especially misinformation as well as denial of financial services. According to scientific assumptions, housing policies in the USA have had enormous impacts on housing segregation trends and processes throughout the entire history of this country (Williams & Collins, 2001, p. 405). Such tightly interconnected factors as socioeconomic status of humans, spatial assimilations, and, finally, immigration contribute to the increased development and expansion of housing segregation. It is extremely important to emphasize the fact that the term “housing segregation” is primarily used in negative context because it results in relocation of people, unequal living standards, and high levels of poverty among minorities (Williams & Collins, 2001, p. 405).
Taking into consideration the factors that stimulate housing discrimination or, in other words, the causes of housing segregation, one should state that measuring and assessing the prevalence of discrimination is a complicated task. More than ten decades of social science interest in the concept of discrimination have resulted in appearance of numerous effective techniques that give the chance to scientists to measure discrimination (Williams & Collins, 2001, p. 406). At present, hundreds of statistical analyses, experiments, and scientific reports enable scientists to measure segregation in the spheres of employment, health care, consumer markets, and housing (Williams & Collins, 2001, p. 406).
Numerous researchers, including Williams and Collins (2001) are the proponents of the idea that housing segregation is a so-called stimulator of creation, development, and perpetuation of racial inequalities on the territory of the USA (p. 405). This physical separation of races was not only planned by legislative organs in the United States, but it was promoted by numerous economic institutions and establishments (Williams & Collins, 2001, p. 406). According to historical data, segregation that the black-white population had faced was significantly increased in large Northern and Southern cities in the second half of the nineteenth century (Williams & Collins, 2001, p. 406). However, housing segregation among African Americans is considered a distinctive process (Williams & Collins, 2001, p. 408). Although many racial minorities, ethnicities, and immigrant groups have experienced housing discrimination or segregation on the territory of the USA, no other racial group has ever faced extremely harsh and unnatural forms of segregation that has always existed for African Americans. For instance, according to the Civil Rights Act that was adopted in 1968, sale as well as rental of housing was included to the list of illegal processes that were punished by the law of the country (Williams & Collins, 2001, p. 408). Moreover, despite the fact that African Americans had experienced higher support in comparison with other ethnicities in the USA, residential exclusion of black population was obvious (Williams & Collins, 2001, p. 408).
Pager and Shepherd (2008) assure that, in spite of governmental attempts to reduce housing segregation to a minimum, residential segregation remains one of the most salient and pressing issues in the USA (p. 188). Although housing segregation drastically decreased between the 1980s and the 2000s, black population still suffers from unequal residential opportunities. According to the data provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, black population faces discrimination even in the 21st century (Pager & Shepherd, 2008, p. 183). In other words, approximately 5500 paired tests with participation of blacks, Latinos, Asian populations, and, finally, Native Americans provide convincing arguments that housing discrimination is a serious problem even nowadays (Pager & Shepherd, 2008, p. 188). The results of experiments prove that high percentage of blacks experience bias, prejudice, and discrimination (Pager & Shepherd, 2008, p. 183). Therefore, blacks as home buyers claim that they usually get less information about available offers or alternatives. In addition, insignificant assistance with finances is typical to housing segregation among African Americans and other minority groups (Pager & Shepherd, 2008, p. 183). The results of Housing Discrimination Study produced in 2000 prove that extremely exaggerated levels of housing discrimination and segregation among the blacks have significantly declined since 1989 in the spheres of rentals as well as sales (Pager & Shepherd, 2008, p. 184). On the contrary, the majority of Hispanics state that segregation in rental markets has not declined until nowadays. Numerous telephone multi-city audits estimate that housing segregation in the USA substantially differs depending on metropolitan contexts (Pager & Shepherd, 2008, p. 185).
Despite numerous controversies and debates among the researchers regarding seriousness of housing discrimination, it is rather important to emphasize that housing segregation is still a severe problem (Pager & Shepherd, 2008, p. 186). In other words, housing segregation should be classified as an urgent problematic issue because of several negative consequences and its effects on health and welfare of society. Taking into consideration the estimations of professionals in the sphere of social sciences, housing segregation negatively impacts the processes of relocation, unequal living standards, poverty, and, finally quality of health (Pager & Shepherd, 2008, p. 186). To begin with, many residents that face housing segregation confess that they were forced to relocate. Furthermore, while hunting for new residence, “victims” of housing segregation, especially African Americans, assure that they encounter discrimination on various levels. For example, the results of statistics prove that whites are, in the majority of cases, favored for both rental as well as sales units in many metropolitan areas on the territory of the USA (Pager & Shepherd, 2008, p. 186).
Scott Baker (2001), the author of the article “The Paradoxes of Desegregation” claims that segregation negatively influences health, education, and behavior. For instance, segregated communities are characterized by slow rates of assimilation. The ability to speak English is the result of considerably increased rates of desegregation in communities (Baker, 2001). In addition, another impact of residential segregation is closely connected to the amounts of social networks created. For example, friendships and marriages usually occur among individuals who live in considerably close proximities. However, housing segregation influences the perpetuation and expansion of violence (Baker, 2001, p. 320).
Health and education are also influenced by housing segregation. Numerous studies prove that racial as well as ethnic minorities face disproportional delivery of health services (Baker, 2001, p. 320). Insufficient supply of healthy food, lack of pharmacies, and, finally, increased amounts of advertisements that promote alcohol and tobacco are promoted by housing segregation (Baker, 2001, p. 320). Minorities and other ethnic groups are usually concentrated in low-income urban neighborhoods. The researchers support the idea that many ethnic groups and minorities suffer because of unequal accessibility to numerous services in comparison with their sub-urban communities (Baker, 2001, p. 321). Finally, housing segregation deprives ethnic groups of the opportunity to get high-quality education. According to the results provided by the scientific observations and investigations, housing segregation in the USA leads to appearance of schools that have nothing in common with high-quality resources, professional teachers, and, consequently, successful students (Baker, 2001, p. 321).
D. S. Massey (1990) is the proponent of the idea that segregation results in appearance of underclasses (p. 330). In other words, the author of the article “American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass” assures that segregation is one of the key variables that increases poverty and creates underclasses. Massey believes that segregation affects economic, social, and personal well-being of minorities, especially blacks, primarily through housing market (Massey, 1990, p. 330).
Having determined and assessed the essence, causes, and consequences of housing segregation, one should note that there are many other types of racial inequalities that are directly linked to the phenomenon of segregation. For example, Williams and Collins (2001) claim that residential segregation is the “root” or, in other words, major cause of racial disparities in health (p. 412). According to the estimations of the researcher, housing segregation results in considerable inequalities in health care (Williams & Collins, 2001, p. 409). Tobacco and alcohol industries that are promoted by housing segregation have successfully found their market among the minorities. Segregation is closely interconnected with extremely low quality of medical services. It has been proved that many African Americans face serious challenges in accessing medical services (Williams & Collins, 2001, p. 409). Moreover, one of the recent studies that investigated New York City neighborhoods has provided convincing arguments that many pharmacies in segregated communities do not have adequate types of high-quality medications to treat people who suffer from severe pain. In addition, African Americans as well as other minority groups and ethnicities do not usually receive professional treatment even after they succeed in getting access to medical care (Williams & Collins, 2001, p. 409).
In addition, health is no less related to segregation than education. First, researchers agree upon the fact that residential segregation leads to the increasingly segregated elementary and high schools (Williams & Collins, 2001, p. 406). For the majority of Americans, residence impacts which school children will attend. Thus, residential segregation is directly tied to poor quality of neighborhood schools. For example, the majority of segregated public schools are dominated by blacks and Hispanics from poor families. Compared to numerous middle-class areas, segregated schools are characterized by degrading quality, low average test scores, no access to serious academic counseling, weak connections to higher educational establishments and employers. Furthermore, extremely deteriorated buildings, increased levels of teenage pregnancy, and, finally, high dropout rates are typical to segregated schools. Segregated schools result in degrading competences and knowledge among graduates of high school. In other words, numerous people who have studied in segregated schools face problems while preparing for higher education, and they often fail in the process of enrollment to college (Williams & Collins, 2001, p. 406).
Finally, the researchers convince that segregation is closely related to mass incarceration (Williams & Collins, 2001, p. 411). For examples, African Americans, as compared to whites, become the victims of severe crimes, especially homicides. The gap among blacks and whites is considered the largest for homicide. One of the recent surveys that has investigated homicide proves that 30 out of 100,000 people among African Americans become the victims of homicide (Williams & Collins, 2001, p. 411). Insufficient access to jobs that results in unemployment and underemployment is one of the most important contributors to high crime rates (Williams & Collins, 2001, p. 411).
Thus, having discussed and evaluated the phenomenon of housing segregation and relation of segregation to health, education, and crime, one can infer that segregation is a severe problem even in the 21st century because it is the major motivator of inequality around the globe. Residential segregation is considered a fundamental cause of racial and ethnical disparities in health, housing, rental opportunities, access as well as quality of health care services. Various types of segregation determine economic and social status of African Americans and ethnic groups. The government of the USA should make efforts in order to reduce discrimination and segregation because these processes limit opportunities of African Americans and racial minorities.