Racial covenants

Racial covenants

As a start to our discussion for this week, please write a short description of your neighborhood from your own perspective (see syllabus: this is one of your short writing assignments and counts as one of your weekly posts). What does your neighborhood look like, smell like, sound like? What does your house look like? How big is your room? Do you have a backyard? How long have you lived there? Please use as many adjectives as possible. Please use as much detail as possible. Think creatively. Help us to “see” your home. After you have done this, please locate your neighborhood on the Seattle Civil Rights webpage. What is the specific legacy of your neighborhood when it comes to segregation? Please post the above assignment by 10am on Thursday.

You DO NOT need to email me a copy of this assignment. If your neighborhood is not on the website or you do not live in Seattle, YOU DO NEED to do additional research on segregation policies in your city/county/neighborhood. I do not want a simple breakdown of racial demographics here. I want you to try your best to understand how the legal system (and its historical policies) shaped where you currently live. Contact your city and/or county directly and inquire about records of housing policies and segregation (often known as “racial covenants”). If you live in a close suburb of Seattle, you may also consider how Seattle policies on race affected the construction of the suburb. You may also want to consider how U.S. government policies regarding Native American land shaped where you live today.

When assessing your neighborhood description, I will look for detailed descriptions and depth of engagement with the assignment. This week is about understanding the history of where you’re at… SEATTLE CIVIL RIGHTS WEB PAGE http://depts.washington.edu/civilr/segregated.htm 

****** For the remainder of the week, I’d like you to think about the history of the “ghetto” traced by Asante, Jr. in the reading under “files.” How does knowing this longer history of the Jewish ghettos effect your present day understanding of it as a geographical/political space? Did this article make you think differently about the segregation policies of the United States? Or the history of your own neighborhood? How so? Some other possible questions to consider: What did you think of the form of the article? Was it effective? Please state your reasoning for your answers.

A note on discussion: I’d like to encourage us as much as possible (when not talking about the text specifically) to speak from our own social locations. Try to be as critical as possible about where YOU are located within the historical and social system. I realize it can be difficult, but when we do this kind of work, we offer more than an “opinion” about what ought to be done by other people. We instead begin to understand our own experiences and perspectives within the historical frameworks we are studying.

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