5 essential books to read on making cities anti-racist

According to architects who specialize in equity and
justice.

The conversation around how race impacts the structures of our
cities has evolved over the years from an equity framework, to one
focused on justice and inclusion, to, today, one that is actively
anti-racist.

An
anti-racist city
is one that is repairing the damage from
racism and remaking itself into a place that affirms the lives of
all people and enables everyone to thrive—regardless of race or
ability. What this looks like in specific communities will vary,
and a lot of work—and
reading
—still needs to be done to imagine it. Creating
anti-racist cities could start with identifying how our cities are
racist, which policies and practices perpetuated racism, and
exploring alternative systems.
Urban planning has been complicit
in racism
for too long.

We asked architects who have been working at the intersection of
cities and race to suggest required reading for anyone interested
in defining the future of anti-racist cities. The titles below have
helped these architects better understand the social, political,
and spatial dynamics that have contributed to unequal cities.
Reading these books is a foundation for the world-building on the
horizon.

The
Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great
Migration
(Random House, 2010) By Isabel Wilkerson

“The story tells the migration of blacks in America from the
South to the North for greater freedom, jobs, education, and hope
for themselves and their children. They faced new forms of
discrimination, disappointment, and harm, which continues today.
The story provides grounding to understand the plight and struggle
of African-Americans in this country that brings us to the present
time. It’s not a North, South, black, or white problem; this
describes our American problem.” —Kimberly Dowdell, president
of the
National Organization of Minority Architects
(2019–2020)

Mismatch: How
Inclusion Shapes Design
(MIT Press 2018) By Kat Holmes

“This book is about inclusive design. The chapter titled
‘With and For,’ which I contributed to, touches on both
injustices in urban design as well as the systematic barriers for
more diversity in architecture, which is needed to create inclusive
cities. A visual telling of this chapter is also shown in the
50-minute documentary just released on Hulu titled Design for All, which shows that
kids of today, no matter the challenge or background, can grow up
to change the world through design.” —Tiffany D. Brown,
architect and founder of 400 Forward, an initiative to bring more
black women into architecture

From
the War on Poverty to the War on Crime
(Harvard University
Press, 2016) By Elizabeth Hinton

“Elizabeth Hinton’s painstakingly historic look at the
intersection of housing policy and policing black neighborhoods is
indispensable in understanding where we are today. The substitution
of ‘crime control’ as urban policy in the 1970s and beyond is
just one example in the book of how the obsession with policing
black communities impeded holistic economic development and
imaginary urban design—missed opportunities that still haunt us
today.” —Milton S.F. Curry, USC School of Architecture dean

The South
Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation
(Picador,
2017) By Natalie Y. Moore

“Chicago invented modern-day segregation through textbook
models of redlining and infrastructure violence that, to this day,
create a palimpsest of inequities across the city. It will be
difficult to get someone to read and research how their privilege
was designed, but this book provides an introduction to place-based
racism and segregation. Ms. Moore weaves her personal narrative of
growing up on the South Side of Chicago with alternating chapters
outlining the policies that impacted her childhood, education,
employment, and housing opportunities. While these histories are
based in Chicago, the tears are spread across the country, and Ms.
Moore captures this just as equally in both photos and maps.”
—Katherine Darnstadt, founder of Latent Design

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government
Segregated America (Liveright, 2017) By Richard Rothstein

“When we wonder how we got to where we are, we have to look at
the local, state, and federal laws in place that allowed for
segregation and discrimination to continue. Rothstein takes an
in-depth look at how private organizations, groups, and courts were
able to take advantage of laws that were actually in the public
domain, promoting everything from redlining to disinvestment in
neighborhoods of color. It underscores the need to understand law
as a complement to architecture and planning, as well as for
architects and planners to run for public office to advocate for
justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion.”—K.D.

Source: FS – All – Architecture 10
5 essential books to read on making cities
anti-racist