Liberal suburbs have their own border wall

By | July 23, 2023

Richard D. Kahlenberg writes:

The New York City suburb of Scarsdale, located in Westchester County, New York, is one of the country’s wealthiest communities, and its residents are reliably liberal. In 2020, three-quarters of Scarsdale voters cast ballots for Joe Biden over Donald Trump. One can safely presume that few Scarsdale residents are ardent backers of Trump’s wall on the Mexican border. But many of them support a less visible kind of wall, erected by zoning regulations that ban multifamily housing and keep non-wealthy people, many of them people of color, out of their community.

Across the country, a lot of good white liberals, people who purchase copies of White Fragility and decry the U.S. Supreme Court for ending affirmative action, sleep every night in exclusive suburbs that socially engineer economic (and thereby racial) segregation by government edict. The huge inequalities between upscale municipalities and their poorer neighbors didn’t just happen; they are in large measure the product of laws that are hard to square with the inclusive In This House, We Believe signs on lawns in many highly educated, deep-blue suburbs.

In a new report for The Century Foundation, I contrast Scarsdale with another Westchester County suburb, Port Chester, which is just eight miles away but has remarkably different demographics. Scarsdale’s median household income, in excess of $250,000, is nearly three times that of Port Chester, as is the portion of residents with a college degree. And whereas three-quarters of Port Chester’s elementary students qualify for free or reduced-price meals at school, zero percent of Scarsdale’s students do. In Scarsdale, 87 percent of residents are non-Hispanic white or Asian American, whereas 69 percent of Port Chester residents are Black or Hispanic. [Continue reading…]

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