Residential segregation is a long-standing problem in American society. Through legal and illegal means, formal and informal practices, whites often sought and still seek to keep others, particularly blacks, out of their communities and neighborhoods. While residential segregation has lessened in recent years, it is still persistent and numerous communities disadvantaged decades ago are still struggling because of this.
The ability of people of different races and ethnicities to live near each other is not just about proximity to work and access to jobs (though this is helpful too); there are numerous consequences.
-access to local governments, and social services
-interaction with neighbors and people in the community
-political representation at higher levels such as state officials or Congress
-nearby cultural opportunities
-health as well as recreational opportunities
-could provide more options for housing and building wealth
-the chance to address local or community problems together
And the list could go on.
As one example, more minorities living in the American suburbs does not necessarily a guarantee them a better life. When many suburbs were built on and operate on the logic of exclusion, suburban residential segregation subverts the idea of the suburban single-family home representing the American Dream.
Tackling residential segregation is a difficult task. Whiter, wealthier communities are not likely to be on board (see how this plays out with affordable housing conversations). Addressing housing at a national level is hard. But, that does not mean it is not worth addressing.