Structural Racism and Urban Planning


This guide will offer resources on the topic of Structural Racism and Urban Planning with a particular emphasis on New Jersey. 

Image of sign, We Want White Tenants in Our White Community"

Title: Detroit, Michigan. Riot at the Sojourner Truth homes, a new U.Sn federal housing project, caused by white neighbors' attempt to prevent Negro tenants from moving in. Sign with American flag "We want white tenants in our white community," directly opposite the housing project.

Photographer: Siegel, Arthur, S.,


What is meant by Structural Racism?
A system in which public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations, and other norms work in various, often reinforcing ways to perpetuate racial group inequity. It identifies dimensions of our history and culture that have allowed privileges associated with “whiteness” and disadvantages associated with “color” to endure and adapt over time. Structural racism is not something that a few people or institutions choose to practice. Instead it has been a feature of the social, economic and political systems in which we all exist. Source: The Aspen Institute 
How is Structural Racism connected to Urban Planning?
The goal of urban planning should be to maximize the health, safety, and economic well-being of all people living in our communities, but that hasn’t always been the case—in fact, far from it.  At its inception, modern urban planning in the United States followed the European model of focusing on public health, taking steps like separating industrial and residential uses. However, American planners quickly began using zoning as a tool for segregation. Source: Okikawa, E, & Frank, T. 

Monmouth County Historical Redline Map

Map of Monmouth County

Image:  Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC), Mapping Inequality. To see more New Jersey Maps, see Mapping Inequality.

Featured Articles

Kwon, J., & Nguyen, M. T. (2023). Four decades of research on racial equity and justice in urban planning. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 0739456X2311568.

Bailey, Z. D., Krieger, N., Agénor, M., Graves, J., Linos, N., & Bassett, M. T. (2017). Structural racism and health inequities in the USA: Evidence and interventions. The Lancet, 389(10077), 1453-1463.

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