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New map reminds us that Orlando remains incredibly segregated

Colin Wolf May 18, 2018 16:02 PM
Photo via Anti-Discrimination Center
Although the metro Orlando area is more diverse than ever, our neighborhoods, on the other hand, are increasingly segregated.

A recently released interactive map from the Anti-Discrimination Center shows that Orlando has some issues with racially divided residential areas. The map, which also allows you to browse regions throughout the entire country, allows users to switch between data from the 2010 Census and the 2016 five-year American Community Survey.

Orlando has shown considerable progress since the Fair Housing Act of 1968, but racially divided residential patterns remain deeply embedded and are plainly obvious when you look at the map and notice how I-4 cuts through Orlando like a picket line.


Many of Orlando's segregation issues stem from what's referred to as "redlining," which was a discriminatory practice widely used in the 1920s and 30s to selectively control where people of color could buy property, and we're still dealing with its effects. This is one of the reasons why Winter Park and College Park are still whiter than ever.

You'll also notice on the map that Hannibal Square, Apopka and Eatonville remain holdouts for Orlando area's African American populations, and how Latin American numbers are growing in Orlando's theme park district and Metro West.
Photo via Anti-Discrimination Center
While the differences between the 2010 and 2016 data may seem small, the consequences of a hyper-segregated city are dire and should not be taken lightly. Racially divided neighborhoods have massive economic impacts on property values, private investment and public school funding, but they can also be damaging to public health.

According to a 2013 study from Washington University in St. Louis, segregated neighborhoods are often poorer, are exposed to more violent crime, have less access to doctors and fewer public services, and are more likely to have fast-food chains, liquor stores and convenience stores, as opposed to farmers markets or grocery stores.

A solid example of this can be found in a Huffington Post report from last February that spotlighted the Griffin Park neighborhood of Parrramore, an area that was purposely surrounded by I-4 construction and now exposes residents to cancer-causing soot and noxious fumes. 

From HuffPost:
This was not an unintended consequence; this was the whole point. As highway lobbyist Alfred Johnson later told an interviewer, some city officials in the mid-1950s were blunt about the goals of highway planning: “Urban Interstates would give them a good opportunity to get rid of the local ‘niggertown.’”
...
Today, I-4, State Road 408 and various ramps form the loop that encapsulates Griffin Park within an “oval of pollution,” said Robert Cassanello, a history professor at the University of Central Florida. “The developments, and the plans to revitalize the city, were at the cost and risk of African-American residents.”
As the article states, this area has been devastated by racially bent housing and zoning policies. Now, the child poverty rate in Parramore is 73 percent and the median annual household income is $13,613.

But our segregation issues are probably most obvious in our schools. Orange County actually has a long racist history of fighting desegregation efforts and we're paying for it.

A 2017 study from the LeRoy Collins Institute shows that one out of five schools in Florida are "intensely segregated," which is defined as having a nonwhite student body of 90 percent or greater. In schools with at least a 50 percent nonwhite school body, low-income students represented 68 percent of the population.

Experts say it's important to remember that "voluntary segregation" doesn't exist. No one is choosing to be segregated and there's almost nothing individuals can do about it.

"There is little ‘free choice,’ if, by that term, one means the ability of members of all racial and ethnic groups to enter or leave a particular geography in accordance with their own wishes,” said ADC's executive director Craig Gurian. "Most segregated patterns were created by explicitly and intentionally discriminatory conduct on the part of all players, private and public, in the housing market."

It's not a coincidence that Division Avenue in Orlando was given this name, and still serves as a literal divider in our city. 
Photo via Google Maps

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