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Inclusion, Exclusion, and the “New” Economic Inequality

Essay - Volume 94 - Issue 7

Olatunde Johnson’s essay hones in on the interaction and tensions between class-based and race-based egalitarianism, two threads that any future democracy of opportunity will need to weave together. She argues that geography—place—is the key to both forms of inequality today. Opportunity is tied to place, which is why racial and income segregation each play such a large role in the intergenerational reproduction of inequality. Johnson begins by highlighting empirical data suggesting why neighborhoods with concentrated poverty—which poor black people are much more likely to live in than poor white people—are resistant to some of the policy solutions on offer that aim either for race-based civil rights or for universal avenues of access to the middle class. She then turns to a set of solutions she views as potentially more promising: efforts by government at both the federal and (especially) the state and local level to “remake place,” edging living patterns toward a future of greater inclusion along lines of both race and class.

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