The Modern Face of Segregation

I shall leave others to debate the racial undertones of the tragic death of Tayvon Martin in Orlando Florida:

Race continues to be be too great an issue in America to be covered in one short article.  Instead, I will raise an even broader and less discussed issue that to me appears very pertinent to this case.  The shooting took place in a “gated community”, those ghettos of the better off that are becoming increasingly prevalent across the world.  At the same time, those areas more commonly associated with the word “ghetto”, the housing projects, estates, shanty towns etc. (depending on the local term and circumstances), continue to be black holes into which the poor of the world get sucked into and escape with great difficulty.

So why are we so obsessed with separating people so they only live with other people “like themselves”?  I’m not talking about everybody living in the same size or value of house like some Marxist vision of utopia, I’m asking what is so undesirable about communities that have a mix of people from different social classes and income levels?  Would it not have benefits such as:

  • Greater understanding about other people’s lives;
  • Raising the aspirations of those who are normally left behind;
  • Fostering humility and empathy amongst those with so much; and
  • Reducing the kind of irrational fears and prejudices that led to the tragedy above.

I live in an area of London that remains reasonably mixed, both ethnically and socioeconomically, although there are few that you would describe as “rich”.  It is not perfect and has its problems, (especially the SOBs who keep stealing bits off my car!) but nobody gets shot for looking suspicious while they walk back from the store.  I also struggle to think what I would gain by living in a gated community or other exclusive area; why would it make me happier?  

So am I just weird or could I be on to something?


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