June 3, 2020
Dear Friends, Colleagues, and Partners,
American cities are supposed to be places of opportunity. Yet too often, and especially in the last century, they have served as sites of oppression. From the redlining of Black neighborhoods in response to the Great Depression to enduring racial inequities in wealth, housing, education, health, and public safety today, it’s clear just how deeply the American city has failed its people—and its Black communities in particular. We’ve seen the consequences of that failure play out for decades and we’re seeing it now, but merely diagnosing the problem was never a sufficient response.
Nearly a century ago, measures designed to hasten recovery from the Great Depression led to decades of racial injustice that entrenched discrimination, exacerbated inequality, and promoted segregation in our laws, culture, and built environment. Today, as we face similar levels of unemployment and economic losses, we can and must recover more equitably than our predecessors. Governing, planning, and, yes, policing of American cities have too often left adverse impacts on communities of color—an unacceptable status quo before the current crisis, and one we’re now obligated to rectify.
A truly equitable recovery must incorporate policies that explicitly correct structural racism and its consequences of social and economic exclusion. The way we use and regulate urban land can determine who has access to good jobs, quality education, clean air, sound health, and freedom from violence and oppression. We need to use that understanding to rebuild and invest in cities that prosper along with all their residents.
We are committed to working toward that future.
George W. “Mac” McCarthy
President and CEO
Lincoln Institute of Land Policy