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1 Nw. J. L. & Soc. Pol'y 1 (2006)

handle is hein.journals/nwjlsopo1 and id is 1 raw text is: Racial Inequality and the Black Ghettoal
Alexander Polikoff
Shortly after the Katrina hurricane, David Broder observed that the capacity of affluent
white Americans to put aside lasting concern about those isolated from mainstream society by
poverty and race is almost limitless.1 Perhaps this is so because many Americans assume that
the consequences of the isolation are confined to the isolated. If more Americans perceived that
the consequences spread more widely, perhaps their capacity to put aside concern would be more
limited. I will argue here that the consequences do in fact spread widely, indeed, throughout
American society. Then I will suggest how increased concern, should it arise, might be usefully
directed.
Poison in the National Groundwater
Some 170 years ago Alexis de Tocqueville called racial inequality the most formidable
evil threatening the future of the United States,''2 and prophesied that America would fail to
address that most formidable evil successfully, a failure that would eventually bring the country
to disaster.3 Much more recently, Jason DeParle echoed Tocqueville's observation if not his
prophecy. Inner city poverty and disorder, DeParle wrote in the New York Times, lacerate our
al This article was adapted from the last chapter of Alexander Polikoff, WAITING FOR GAUTREAUX: A STORY OF
SEGREGATION, HOUSING, AND THE BLACK GHETTO (2006).
1 David Broder, Editorial, Waiting for Action; Right Words but Little Practical Helpfor Poor, WASH. POST, Sept.
22, 2005, at A25.
2 ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE, DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA 340 (George Lawrence trans., Perennial Classics 2000)
(1835).
3Id. at 340-363.

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