History of Residential Segregation- Key Terms

Important Definitions and Terms:

American Apartheid

  • The Kerner Commission – released in March 1968 (identified prominent cause for growing racial inequality as residential segregation)
  • Out-migration of middle class whites – leaves behind a destitute community
  • the Index of Dissimilarity – standard measure of segregation; captures the degree to which blacks and whites are evenly spread among neighborhoods in a city
  • Restrictive Covenants – contractual agreements among property owners stating that they would not permit a black to own, occupy, or lease their property
  • Ghetto expansion – rapid black migration into a confined residential area
  • redlining – initiated and institutionalized by the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation
  • Steering – occurs when white and black clients are guided to neighborhoods that differ systematically with respect to social and economic characteristics
  • “urban desertification”(Roderick Wallace) – a sequence of events whereby entire neighborhoods become depopulated and devoid of stable social institutions



Not in My Neighborhood: How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City


  • blockbusting– real estate business that convinced white homeowners at low prices in fear that Black would move into their neighborhoods
  • suburbanization– growth in  areas on the outside of cities
  • eugenics-process of improving human population by controlled breeding; used by FHA (Federal Housing Association) to control the homogeneity of white families in neighborhoods
  • Great Migration– move of 6 million African Americans out of the rural south to the Northeast, Midwest,  and West, mainly took place after WWII
  • covenants– a promise or written agreement used among homeowners and community members; covenants were made to stop selling homes and allowing Blacks to live in white neighborhoods, form of race separation
  • “Forty Thieves” notorious blockbusters families and companies that scammed families into selling their homes cheap prices but selling to Black families for higher prices
    • often placed something bad into neighborhoods to prevent white families from wanting to move into neighborhoods where Black families resided
  • “black tax”-the higher prices Blacks had to pay for houses due to their ethnicity
  • zoning-government laws that dictate where certain individuals can live, usually races are clumped into one area to keep homogeneity