Community Planning: Land and Transportation

Lack of affordable housing and homelessness, limited public transportation, and poorly funded public schools in communities of color are not arbitrary, but rather a result of design. The racist roots of community planning and urban planning have, undoubtedly, contributed to poorer quality of life and health outcomes for communities of color. Beyond planning, oppressive legal mechanisms were also used. In fact, between 1910 and 1997, Black communities lost about 90% of their farmland, contributing to America’s largest wealth gap.

Resources in this section explore the concept of ‘Regionalism’; that is, the sharing of skills, policies, amenities, tax burdens, and resources across municipal boundaries, so communities can function as cohesive entities instead of perpetuating racial disparities. [...]

Land Use and Management Issues

LANDBACK: A Tipi Village Takes on Healing & Homelessness
The Laura Flanders Show
Shuumi Land Tax
Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, Led by Urban Indigenous Women
Reparations Summer: Who We Are
Black Land and Power (BLP), a project of the National Black Food Justice Alliance (NBFJA)
How Community Land Trusts Can Help Heal Segregated Cities
Mark Roseland and Christopher Boone
Next City
Land Reparations: Resources on Land Accumulation & Wealth
Land Reparations & Indigenous Solidarity Toolkit
Resource Generation (RG)
Resources and Support for Land Justice
jes kelley et al.
Resource Generation (RG)
A Digital Map Leads to Reparations for Black and Indigenous Farmers
Jean Willoughby
YES! Magazine
How Property Law Is Used to Appropriate Black Land
Alzo Slade
Milwaukee Latest City to Put an Equity Lens on its Parks
Zoe Sullivan
Next City
White Earth Land Recovery Project
Black Land and Its Role in the Liberation of Black People
Karissa Lewis

Planning and Design

What Makes a Racially Equitable City?
Maritza E. Mercado Pechin
Next City
The Bitter History Behind the Highways Occupied by Protesters
Olivia Paschal
Facing South
A New Home For Activists, and a New Way of Building in Communities
Amanda Abrams
YES! Magazine
Explore Sustainability Metrics: How Do We Achieve More Sustainable Regions?
Sustainable Regions, Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
First-Ever Compendium of Indigenous Technologies Provides a Powerful Toolkit for Climate-Resilient Design
Sala Elise Patterson
Department of Urban Planning and Design, Harvard University
How Urban Planning Keeps Cities Segregated—And Maintains White Supremacy
Julian Agyeman
YES! Magazine
Public-Making and Spatial Justice
Design Studio for Social Innovation
What Does It Mean to Decolonize Design?
Anoushka Khandwala
Eye on Design
Why Justice in Design Is Critical to Repairing America
 Meaghan O'Neill
Architectural Digest
Edging Toward Equity: Creating Shared Opportunity in America’s Regions
Manuel Pastor, C. Benner, and R. Rosner
Center for Justice, Tolerance, and Community at UC Santa Cruz


Horizontal Development: Equitable Development for City-Makers
University of Orange & DS4SI
Community Land Trusts Could Help Heal Segregated Cities
Mark Roseland and Christopher Boone
Arizona State University; The Conversation US
The Design Collective Taking on Structural Racism in the Industry
Diana Budds
Eye on Design


Soul City Podcast
Katie Mingle et al.
99% Invisible
What Is the Nature of Gentrification, Displacement, and Exclusion in Global Cities?
K. Chapple and T. Thomas
Urban Displacement Project (UDP), UC Berkeley
Historical Context of Racist Planning: A History of How Planning Segregated Portland
Jena Hughes
City of Portland
Mapping Prejudice - Minneapolis
University of Minnesota
Race, Municipal Underbounding, and Coalitional Politics in Modesto, California and Moore County, North Carolina
Emily Tumpson Molina
Regional Equity Atlas: Geography of Opportunity
Coalition of Communities of Color; Ecotrust; Futurewise; 1000 Friends of Oregon

Transportation Issues

How Infrastructure Has Historically Promoted Inequality
Candice Norwood
PBS NewsHour
Can Removing Highways Fix America’s Cities?
Nadja Popovich, Josh Williams, and Denise Lu
The NY Times
To Fight Racism, Transit Has a Key Role
Darnell Grisby, Bloomberg City Lab
Transportation Policy Is Housing Policy
Stephen Menendian
Othering & Belonging Institute
What Does Racism Have to Do with Gridlock?
Tracy Thompson
Moving to Equity: Addressing Inequitable Effects of Transportation Policies on Minorities
Thomas W. Sanchez, Rich Stolz, and Jacinta S. Ma
Center for Community Change; The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University
Transportation Equity Tools
The Civil Rights Project at UCLA

“We are in a struggle for justice and liberation. It requires us to stand in solidarity, stay strong, aim big, commit for the long haul, and redouble our efforts to build a society in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential.”

~ Michael McAfee, President and CEO, PolicyLink


The Disturbing History of the Suburbs – Adam Ruins Everything, CollegeHumor

Also in this section:
  • Addressing Hate and White Supremacy

  • Economic Development

  • Employment and Labor

  • Health and Healthcare

  • Language Justice

  • Reparations

  • Voting Justice and Democracy Building

  • Children, Families, and Youth Development

  • Economic Security

  • Environmental Justice

  • Housing

  • Media and Technology

  • Reproductive Justice

  • Criminal Justice

  • Education

  • Food Justice

  • Immigration and Refugee Rights

  • Philanthropy

  • Trauma, Violence, and Healing



In the context of racial equity work, accountability refers to the ways in which individuals and communities hold themselves to their goals and actions, and acknowledge the values and groups to which they are responsible.

To be accountable, one must be visible, with a transparent agenda and process. Invisibility defies examination; it is, in fact, employed in order to avoid detection and examination. Accountability demands commitment. It might be defined as “what kicks in when convenience runs out.” Accountability requires some sense of urgency and becoming a true stakeholder in the outcome. Accountability can be externally imposed (legal or organizational requirements), or internally applied (moral, relational, faith-based, or recognized as some combination of the two) on a continuum from the institutional and organizational level to the individual level. From a relational point of view, accountability is not always doing it right. Sometimes it’s really about what happens after it’s done wrong.

SOURCE:  Accountability and White Anti-Racist Organizing: Stories from Our Work, Bonnie Berman Cushing with Lila Cabbil, Margery Freeman, Jeff Hitchcock, and Kimberly Richards (2010). 

Related Resources:  Accountability

Location: PLAN / Change Process

Black Lives Matter

A political movement to address systemic and state violence against African Americans. Per the Black Lives Matter organizers: “In 2013, three radical Black organizers—Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi—created a Black-centered political will and movement building project called #BlackLivesMatter. It was in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman. The project is now a member-led global network of more than 40 chapters. [Black Lives Matter] members organize and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ humanity, our contributions to this society, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.” 

SOURCE:  Black Lives Matter, “Herstory” (accessed 7 October 2019).


When people act to perpetuate oppression or prevent others from working to eliminate oppression. 

Example: Able-bodied people who object to strategies for making buildings accessible because of the expense.

SOURCE:  Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice: A Sourcebook, edited by Maurianne Adams, Lee Anne Bell, and Pat Griffin (Routledge, 1997).

Institutional Racism

Institutional racism refers specifically to the ways in which institutional policies and practices create different outcomes for different racial groups. The institutional policies may never mention any racial group, but their effect is to create advantages for whites and oppression and disadvantage for people from groups classified as people of color.


  • Government policies that explicitly restricted the ability of people to get loans to buy or improve their homes in neighborhoods with high concentrations of African Americans (also known as “red-lining”).

  • City sanitation department policies that concentrate trash transfer stations and other environmental hazards disproportionately in communities of color.

SOURCE:  Flipping the Script: White Privilege and Community Building by Maggie Potapchuk, Sally Leiderman, Donna Bivens, and Barbara Major (2005).

Related Resources:  Racism (scroll down alphabetically to the box for “Institutional Racism”)

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts

Movement Building

Movement building is the effort of social change agents to engage power holders and the broader society in addressing a systemic problem or injustice while promoting an alternative vision or solution. Movement building requires a range of intersecting approaches through a set of distinct stages over a long-term period of time. Through movement building, organizers can:

  • Propose solutions to the root causes of social problems.

  • Enable people to exercise their collective power.

  • Humanize groups that have been denied basic human rights and improve conditions for the groups affected.

  • Create structural change by building something larger than a particular organization or campaign.

  • Promote visions and values for society based on fairness, justice, and democracy.

SOURCE:  Julie Quiroz-Martinez, From the Roots: Building the Power of Communities of Color to Challenge Structural Racism (Akonadi Foundation, 2010), citing the Movement Strategy Center, which offers these further definitions.

Related Resources:  Movement Building

Location: PLAN / Change Process


The systematic subjugation of one social group by a more powerful social group for the social, economic, and political benefit of the more powerful social group. Rita Hardiman and Bailey Jackson state that oppression exists when the following 4 conditions are found:

  • the oppressor group has the power to define reality for themselves and others,

  • the target groups take in and internalize the negative messages about them and end up cooperating with the oppressors (thinking and acting like them),

  • genocide, harassment, and discrimination are systematic and institutionalized, so that individuals are not necessary to keep it going, and

  • members of both the oppressor and target groups are socialized to play their roles as normal and correct.

Oppression = Power + Prejudice

SOURCE:  What Is Racism?” − Dismantling Racism Works (dRworks) web workbook.

Racial Inequity

Racial inequity is when two or more racial groups are not standing on approximately equal footing, such as the percentages of each ethnic group in terms of dropout rates, single family home ownership, access to healthcare, etc.

SOURCE:  Ibram X. Kendi, How To Be An Antiracist, Random House, 2019.

Racist Policies

A racist policy is any measure that produces or sustains racial inequity between or among racial groups. Policies are written and unwritten laws, rules, procedures, processes, regulations, and guidelines that govern people. There is no such thing as a nonracist or race-neutral policy. Every policy in every institution in every community in every nation is producing or sustaining either racial inequity or equity between racial groups. Racist policies are also expressed through other terms such as “structural racism” or “systemic racism”. Racism itself is institutional, structural, and systemic.

SOURCE:  Ibram X. Kendi, How To Be An Antiracist, Random House, 2019.

Related Resources:  Laws and Policies

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / History of Racism and Movements

For specific topics, also see PLAN / Issues


States have a legal duty to acknowledge and address widespread or systematic human rights violations, in cases where the state caused the violations or did not seriously try to prevent them. Reparations initiatives seek to address the harms caused by these violations. They can take the form of compensating for the losses suffered, which helps overcome some of the consequences of abuse. They can also be future oriented—providing rehabilitation and a better life to victims—and help to change the underlying causes of abuse. Reparations publicly affirm that victims are rights-holders entitled to redress.

SOURCE:  International Center for Transitional Justice.

Related Resources:  Reparations

Location: PLAN / Issues

Structural Racism

  1. The normalization and legitimization of an array of dynamics – historical, cultural, institutional, and interpersonal – that routinely advantage Whites while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color. Structural racism encompasses the entire system of White domination, diffused and infused in all aspects of society including its history, culture, politics, economics, and entire social fabric. Structural racism is more difficult to locate in a particular institution because it involves the reinforcing effects of multiple institutions and cultural norms, past and present, continually reproducing old and producing new forms of racism. Structural racism is the most profound and pervasive form of racism – all other forms of racism emerge from structural racism.

  2. For example, we can see structural racism in the many institutional, cultural, and structural factors that contribute to lower life expectancy for African American and Native American men, compared to white men. These include higher exposure to environmental toxins, dangerous jobs and unhealthy housing stock, higher exposure to and more lethal consequences for reacting to violence, stress, and racism, lower rates of health care coverage, access, and quality of care, and systematic refusal by the nation to fix these things.


  1. Chronic Disparity: Strong and Pervasive Evidence of Racial Inequalities by Keith Lawrence, Aspen Institute on Community Change, and Terry Keleher, Applied Research Center, for the Race and Public Policy Conference (2004).

  2. Flipping the Script: White Privilege and Community Building by Maggie Potapchuk, Sally Leiderman, Donna Bivens, and Barbara Major (2005).

Related Resources:  Structural Racism

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts

White Supremacy

The idea (ideology) that white people and the ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions of white people are superior to People of Color and their ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions. While most people associate white supremacy with extremist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazis, white supremacy is ever present in our institutional and cultural assumptions that assign value, morality, goodness, and humanity to the white group while casting people and communities of color as worthless (worth less), immoral, bad, and inhuman and “undeserving.” Drawing from critical race theory, the term “white supremacy” also refers to a political or socio-economic system where white people enjoy structural advantage and rights that other racial and ethnic groups do not, both at a collective and an individual level.

SOURCE: “What Is Racism?” − Dismantling Racism Works (dRworks) web workbook.

Related Resources:  System of White Supremacy and White Privilege and Addressing Hate and White Supremacy

Locations: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts and PLAN / Issues