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Good trouble & the redline


The divisions of modern U.S. cities and de-facto segregation did not arise by accident. Our panelists examined what enabled redlining and pervasive environmental racism to shape our communities and what can be done to combat their effects.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion  •  January 22, 2021

The divisions of modern U.S. cities and de-facto segregation did not arise by accident. Real estate practices, federal loan programs, and even local ordinances combined help reinforce a process known as “redlining.” Redlining, as well as forced migration, and pervasive environmental racism have all contributed to divisions and current polices in our major cities that have left marginalized communities disenfranchised. Our panelists examined what enabled these policies to shape our communities and what can be done to combat their effects.

Transcript

Lori McDonald: I would very much like to acknowledge that this land, the land upon which we regularly gather but are gathering in spirit virtually today, is named for the Ute Tribe, is the traditional and ancestral homeland of the Shoshone, Paiute, Goshute, and Ute Tribes. The University of Utah recognizes and respects the enduring relationship that exists between many Indigenous peoples and their traditional homelands. We respect the sovereign relationship between tribes, states, and the federal government, and we affirm the University of Utah’s commitment to a partnership with Native Nations and Urban Indian communities through research, education, and community outreach activities.

It is my pleasure to introduce Vice President Jason Perry who’s our vice president of government relations and director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics. The Hinckley Institute is our partner for this program and many of the programs for Martin Luther King, Jr. Week. Jason. 

Jason Perry: Thank you, Lori, so good to be with you and everyone else. I like to congratulate and thank Vice President Mary Ann Villarreal and her team at Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for the partnership we have inclusive politics is so happy to participate in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. programming. I also want to thank the MLK planning committee you’re doing amazing work, EDI, and so many other campus and community partners that do so much for what is going to be a really great event today.

Today, we’re going to be exploring Congressman John Lewis’s call for “good trouble,” as he called it. As we discuss the current state of civil rights in the United States, I can’t think of a better legacy to honor than Congressman John Lewis and his persistence fight for equality from a student and community organizer to a venerated member of Congress. Through his life, he embodied the mission of the Hinckley Institute of Politics demonstrating very well that you’re never too old or too young to fight for a better world. We encourage students to get involved in elections and politics, to intern with the organizations that are shaping policy, get involved, help improve our communities.

Today’s forum, Reframing the Conversation: Good Trouble and the Redline, will explore the intersection of race, power, and geography, and how government policies have been used to harm people of color. It’s going to be a great panel today. I have to tell you and Congressman Lewis was right, sometimes we do need a little “good trouble,” and we’re gonna talk about that a little today. But I want to first introduce our moderator. We’re so glad to have you with us, Jenny. 

Jennifer Mayer-Glenn is going to be our moderator today. I just want to give us a couple things about you, because you’re involved so much, Jenny.

Jenny is the new director of the University Neighborhood Partners. She served as the director of family school collaboration at the Salt Lake City School District working to build authentic family school and community partnerships focusing on underserved communities in Salt Lake City. She was administrator at Glendale Middle School, Mountain View Elementary and Community Learning Center. She also served as the alternative language services coordinator and language and cultural coach for the Salt Lake City School District. 

Before that she was an ESL and special education teacher. When she’s not working for social justice, which we appreciate, she is  doing community advocacy work with the Utah Coalition of La Raza and working to increase the number of Latinx teachers and administrators with the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents-Utah. Jenny, you come so well qualified, and your panel is amazing. I turn it over to you. So glad to have this conversation today; it’s important it’s timely. 

Jennifer Mayer-Glenn: Thank you so much, Jason, for the introduction. A little while ago, I watched the inauguration of President Biden, and I kind of feel like a cloud has been lifted off Washington D.C. and certainly I feel lighter, but what I heard was a call for the healing of the soul of America. Today, I hope that we can understand a little bit better a tiny piece of why that soul is bruised. I’m excited to be moderating a panel of such powerful women today — and thank you so much for being here — and we’ll introduce you all in just a moment, but first a couple of housekeeping items:

The first thing is if you have questions, please add them in the Q&A box. We won’t be checking chat for questions. Also we have an ASL interpreter and closed captioning options if you need those. So, yes, questions in Q&A.

So first, I’d like to introduce our panelists. 

First is Ciriac Alvarez Valle. You can wave there, Ciriac. Ciriac Alvarez Valle is passionate about bridging policy & grassroots efforts to build a better world, especially for children of color. Her work as a grassroots community organizer and her faith continues to inspire and inform how she sees the world. Ciriac is currently a Policy Analyst at Voices for Utah Children and her policy work is focused on children’s health coverage, community health workers, immigrant rights, and juvenile justice.

She graduated with a B.S. in Political Science and Sociology from the University of Utah in 2017. She was born in Cuernavaca Morelos, Mexico. Cuernavaca Morelos is a beautiful city. Ciriac, I hope you get to visit often once this is over. But she has called Salt Lake City home for almost twenty years.

Ashley, Ashley Cleveland. Ashley Cleveland is ecologist turned city planner. As a millennial of color and new mom, she has always cared about equity and what the means for the places we live. She thinks representation is key in so many important workings of our everyday life. She serves on the board of directors for CurlyMe! a nonprofit serving Black girls and their families. She is on the board of trustees for Tracy Aviary, a Governor’s Outdoor Recreation Advisory Board member, Utah’s only Outdoor Afro Leader, and she manages the Promise Program in Utah’s youngest city: Millcreek.

Thank you for being here, Ashley.

Fatima, Fatima Dirie, if you want to give a wave. 

Fatima Dirie is the senior policy advisor on refugees and new Americans. She was born in Barawa, Somalia, and raised in Kenya and Utah. She received a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Utah. Fatima is passionate about advocating for human rights and social justice issues, empowering women and youth to be leaders, and educating people on refugee populations.

Thank you for being here, Fatima.

And finally, and not least, Franci.

Franci Taylor (Choctaw, she/her) is the director of the University of Utah’s American Indian Resource Center (AIRC) where she leads the Center’s mission to advocate for American Indian and Alaskan Native (AI/AN) students and serve as a vital link between them, the U and the larger community. As a mother of two, grandmother of five, and auntie to many, Franci has always wanted the best for others. She has dedicated the last 25 years towards increasing access for all under-represented students and American Indian education.

Thank you all ladies for being here, this is an important day, I think. I’m hoping it’s a new beginning for us in so many ways. But we are here today to talk about redlining, and so I wanted to just give a brief definition and take it back to sort of our history here in Salt Lake City.

So redlining is a discriminatory practice by which banks and insurance companies among other industries refuse or limit loans, mortgages, and insurance coverage with specific geographic areas with high populations of people of color. This is now an outlawed kind of practice. However, I don’t think it’s something that has really gone away completely.

I would like to share a quote that I’d like to give out of in the Salt Lake City Weekly written by Realtor Babs Delay. I don’t know if some of you may know her. In June of 2020, she said “Salt Lake Mayor Mendonhall reportedly keeps an old map of redlining at her desk,” and I’ve actually seen this map. She does have that map there.  “The maps weren’t just unique to Salt Lake—there were 238 cities that used these maps as a guide to where home loans should not be granted because of high risk.”

“Here in Utah, the maps specifically noted where “Negroes” lived, which were areas that were coincidentally red-lined. The “best” neighborhoods where lenders easily gave out loans were upper Sugar House, property around the University of Utah, the Avenues and Sugar House itself. The main “red” areas where lenders were advised against granting mortgages were Rose Park, the west side (i.e., Poplar Grove) and Liberty Wells.”

Additionally, my own personal history, my great uncle was not allowed to purchase a home in the Marmalade area, so in the West Capital area. He wanted to buy a home there for his mother, and he wasn’t allowed to do so. This is something that has been present all across the nation and really frankly the world. For this question, I’d like to invite Fatima and Franci to answer this question: “redlining, which is now against the law, presents itself more in more implicit ways. How does redlining present itself in 2021? And let’s start actually with Franci.

Franci Taylor: I wanted to start off by also giving my introduction and my native way…

Redlining is ancient. It is extremely ancient, and it went from being legal to insidiously hidden. I mean the government can create a “red line” and then outlaw it, but that doesn’t go to the point of where the citizenry destroys that invisible line well.

I’m from Montana originally. Montana at the turn of the century, in the 1880s, had a very vibrant, exciting African-American community. Out of the 1,300 people in Helena, Montana — where I own a home — almost 400 were African American. They had newspapers, theaters, stores, restaurants. It was a very vibrant community. In the early 20th Century, redlining became apparent, and they started drawing lines. By the 1930s, there were no Black establishments left in element In fact across Montana, it was redlined against most people of color: Hispanics, American Indians, absolutely. Some people would say that our reservations are redlined, but they are sovereign individual governments, and we say that that’s just a little bit of our land that was left. But we had what were called Sundown Laws, where people of color could not be in any of the major cities after nighttime based on these supposed threats that they posed to the general populace.

Today, they’re moving in today. If you want to know if redlining continues until this day, take a trip from Idaho all the way down to St. George on I-15 and count how many exits and on-ramps go in and out at the west side of the tracks. Then come back up and find how difficult it is to exit on 600 [South] and get all the way into the Avenues. This isn’t an accident; this was done by government planning as the more white upper-class neighborhoods increase the difficulty for anyone to get into that neighborhood and then back onto the Interstate. It exists today in many ways, most of it underground so you don’t see it. An uncle of mine tried to borrow money in Montana to buy a car, and it wasn’t until he legally changed his name from an Indian sounding name into one that looked Anglo did he get the loan. So thank you very much. 

Jennifer Mayer-Glenn: Thank you, Franci. Fatima, same question.

Fatima Dirie: Yes. So I grew up in Rose Park. For many of you who are not familiar with that, it’s on the west side of Salt Lake City. Coming here as a nine-year-old, I just remember some of the things that we had to live by as being a minority like getting to the hospital. The closest clinic was the Redwood Clinic at the University, which is, you know, at least 30 minutes away as well as the biggest hospital — University of Utah — [was] located in the east side of Salt Lake. So for me, I just kind of wanted to reflect back on some of the inequalities that hurt a lot of minorities given that the redlining was banned about 50 years ago. The law was passed, and still to this day we can reflect on some of the patterns that we see in economic and racial residential segregation that’s still evident in many US cities.

Looking at Salt Lake City, for example, many of the neighborhoods that we oftentimes hear about — West Valley, Rose Park — these are neighborhoods that are minority, you know minority-led, and so a lot of them are economically disenfranchised. A lot of them don’t have access to the same opportunities that many neighborhoods like Draper and Sandy are provided to them. It’s good to remind ourselves what has happened with redlining neighborhoods in the south and west side, as well as today to look at largely some of the minority groups that are unable to become homeowners, unable to get bank loans, or their credit is deemed due to their ethnic background, but they don’t understand why that is. We need to historically recognize that. 

For me, working for Mayor Mendenhall, and for her to have this map available to us to review, reminds ourselves of some of the hazards that were created and how do we go back and make sure that the policies we are implementing and the things that we are evaluating are not only equitable [while] the structure of racism is still in existence today. We need to evaluable some of these things. What we do going forward is really important. 

As was mentioned by my colleague, Franci, if you just want to understand how redlining has affected many of our neighborhoods, just take a drive through some of these neighborhoods I highlighted and mentioned and see the impact that it has on many of these communities today. In this day and age, racial inequality, policing, racial injustice, all of these things in fact are affecting a lot of minorities — people of color — a lot more in extreme ways. We need to be more desirable; we need to highlight some of these stories in ways so that we don’t go back in history. We do some good trouble, we move forward, and we change some of these policies and procedures in place and are affecting all of us.

Jennifer Mayer-Glenn: Thank you, Fatima. We’ll go on to question two, and this is for Ashley and Ciriac: In March 2018, Washington Post published an article titled, “Redlining was banned 50 years ago. It’s still hurting minorities today.” What has been the impact of redlining on you and your family?

Ashley Cleveland: Well, thank you for having me. My name’s Ashley. I will go ahead and speak to what Fatima and Franci has mentioned on how it’s presented itself, right? Franci brought up how entries and exits to freeways are mostly towards BIPOC communities (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities within cities. What that means for my family in my community is that we usually have higher rates of asthma and other diseases that are connected to environmental factors. 

Fatima brought up how we haven’t had access to bank loans and economic opportunities because they’re not available on our side of town. What that means for myself and my family is that we still have a larger hurdle to getting over the eight-generational wealth gap. Especially for the African American community, our wealth gap has tripled since 1968. Our generational wealth is about $24,000 dollars in comparison to White communities that have about $120,000 to pass on to their next generations. 

When we look at family health outcomes for myself, my daughter, and other people in my community and my family, one scholar named Mindy Thompson Fullilove talks about how we have, you know, higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, lower access to healthy food, we live in food deserts. These are things that impact our daily lives and, you know, make it harder for us to live healthier lives, because it’s not available to us. Not because we are not working hard or, you know, have the education available to us like, someone like me who has a master’s degree from the U, we still have a lot of things that we have to deal with.

One of the other things that, you know, Fatima mentioned in regards to safety; if you look at a lot of instances where we’ve experienced a civil unrest this past year, if you were to overlay that map with redlining, you would see that a lot of the cities were these instances are happening are in communities that also have been redlined and left it in the cold in regards to redlining and filling those equity gaps because of city budgets and things of that nature. So that’s something that definitely impacts myself and people in my community.

Then, lastly, I would probably bring up health outcomes for our children and pregnant mothers. Asthma is a real thing for us, and new CDC data has shown that people of color and especially Black women are three to four times more likely to have preeclampsia and other things that negatively impact our chances of having a healthy pregnancy and childbirth and lead to high mortality rates. That’s something that directly impacts me and people who live in my community. 

Jennifer Mayer-Glenn: Thanks, Ashley. Ciriac?

Ciriac Alvarez Valle: Hi, everyone. Thank you so much for letting me be on this panel with such wonderful panelists and moderator. Again, my name is Ciriac and my pronouns are she/hers. 

You know, as I was thinking about this question, I was thinking about a piece that Jenny shared with us. It’s called “The Gathering Place” by John McCormick if anybody’s interested, and there is a small sentence in there from a person of color who mentioned that they were not allowed to go to Liberty Park — the pool at The Liberty Park. And it really struck me because I’ve grown up in Liberty Wells, and I’ve gone to that park so many times. I learned to ride my bike there, and my family would go there all the time. So it’s just like in this very moment, I can feel the history of that redlining and that discrimination.

The reason why I want to continue pursuing social justice and not only thinking about the healing or the things we must do — but the things we must repair — when we talk about redlining and when we talk about discrimination and racism that has been historically embedded in our city like in Salt Lake City. Not just in our country, but we see it like in our own very neighborhoods! As I’m thinking about just how redlining has affected my family, most of us immigrated to the U.S. in the early nineties and early two thousands, and so we haven’t really seen the like impact of the actual redlining but the legacy of redlining in our experience. Most of that has been and still not being able to buy housing, and as we know housing or buying homes is one of the major ways that Americans in this country create wealth. From my family, only like two or three of my family members have a home. The rest of them rent.

I was actually like finding a new place recently, and I was looking at all of the different requirements right like not being evicted, not having any criminal background, having a good credit score, all of these things that we know that are important but also know that there are higher rates of people of color and people in the Westside communities who have higher policing. So when you have more policing, you have more criminalization. When you have more criminalization, you have more instances of having a misdemeanor or a felony or all of these charges. So then you are less likelihood of getting apartments or places that are cheaper or in better neighborhoods or generally just being able to find that steady housing. So for my family, it’s been largely the impacts of the legacy of redlining that have affected how we see ourselves and our family.

I’ll just end with this: I was talking to a friend when we both happened to be at Sugarhouse Park.  I was walking my dogs, and they were jokingly saying, “well, there’s no parks in West Valley, so we come here.” All jokes aside, right, like that’s actually true! The green spaces that exist in Sugarhouse or on the east side, there are so many more opportunities to go hiking, to be outdoors then there is on the west side, and that is one of the reasons why I am actually, like, very excited for Mayor Mendonhall in the work that she’s doing. I know that planting trees is one of the things that she has outlined in her plan. I think that’s beautiful, because when we talk about redlining there are so many things outside of just housing that you know, Ashley, Franci, and Fatima have all outlined that are just as impactful to the way that we live then just, you know, buying a home or not being able to buy a home.

Jennifer Mayer-Glenn: Thank you, Ciriac. 

Okay this next question is for Franci and Ciriac again. So, according to local historian John McCormick that you mentioned today — thank you, Ciriac —  in the 1960s the Central City Community Council organized a residence code compliance committee and they founded People Against Redlining to fight against the common practice of banks and savings and loans of not providing loans to residents of undesirable inner city areas. How have you and other people you know, fought against discriminatory practices like redlining? 

Franci Taylor: I mean, it’s  making calls to legislators, it’s talking to community members, it’s standing up and speaking out, it’s not tolerating the segregation or elimination of any community. For me personally, I think it’s a personal stance that I take that I don’t tolerate anybody being pushed to the sides. Even here at the [American Indian Resource Center], I make it well known to students that the meaning of this center is to support American Indian students, but every student on campus, every person in the community, is welcome here. 

The more that we illustrate the right way to do it, hopefully the younger communities will  follow our example more than our words. Because like I said, you can take away the legal redline, but that does not remove the internal redline that many of our communities adhere to and embrace. We need to break that fear that they need to embrace. We need to break that fear that they need to embrace this alienation. 

Jennifer Mayer-Glenn: Thank you, Franci. Ciriac?

Ciriac Alvarez Valle: Yeah, I personally have not done a lot of work around redlining, but what I have been really interested in is on health equity. And that’s why, you know, as a policy analyst at Voices for Utah Children, I focus a lot on children’s health and children’s health coverage. There is a report from the Office of Health Disparities that outlines health disparities by legislative districts that I wanted to share. I think it’s super valuable to the conversation that we’re having today on redlining, because we can see that the same neighborhoods that were redlined are the same neighborhoods that have higher rates of chronic illnesses, that have higher rates of mortality for infants, that have higher rates of just health disparities in general. And health disparities are, you know, disparities in health that could have been changed or aren’t necessary. The work that I do really has focused on, at Voices, the social determinants of health, and those are the things — the conditions of the environments where people are born, where people learn, where people live, where people worship — are the things that affect the quality of life.

I think the work that I’m doing now is really to, you know, work towards health equity of all communities. And why I work on policies for children, especially, but also community health workers (promotores) who are really, you know, the like the heart of community who are trying to teach other community members about resources/opportunities, but they also fight against, just like, malinformation.  People of color may not feel as safe you know from the government or from certain entities when we know historically, right, there’s been so many things that have gone wrong and so community health workers have been like a really good license. 

A lot of my work recently has been on health equity, and, you know, something that I really love from John Lewis is his quote, “if not us, then who? If not now, then when?” I think that speaks so much especially today, while, you know, we are filling in some ways of renewed hope but also just like this continuation — a drive — to fight for equity and justice. While one transfer power is really important, there’s so much work to do, to one: heal, but also just change a lot of the practices and policies that we’ve never really acknowledged. While we acknowledge redlining there’s never been anything that has counteracted the mortgages or, like, the things that were given right to white Americans that weren’t given to Black or other people of color, right? And so, while we can talk about having, you know, changes in some of the practices, we still have a lot of people of color who can’t afford homes even in the west side, or there’s a lot of gentrification that happens. When the housing values go up, people of color then can’t afford those places, and so there’s a lot of work we have to do. And I’m so excited to continue to fight for our especially our kids. I think I’m really passionate about kids of color, and just knowing that, like, a third of our population here in Utah is kids — like around 800,000-900,000 people are kids — and you know while we have a lot of work to do, I think there’s a lot of hope especially for our future. 

Jennifer Mayer-Glenn: Thank you, Ciriac. It’s actually your age group that gives me hope, so that it’s sort of a generational gap, but yeah, thank you for that! Okay, Fatima and Ashley: other news headlines have been “Cleveland Neighborhoods ‘Redlined’ in the 1930s Are the Same Ones Dealing With Lead, Sexual Assault, Poverty and Poor Internet Issues Today,” another “Study: Tampa Bay homes in once ‘redlined’ neighborhoods worth half those in other areas,” and a third “In Baltimore, The Gap Between White And Black Homeownership Persists.” What have been long-term impacts of redlining in our community and also in our society. So, Fatima?

Fatima Dirie: Yes, so as we know structural racism has prevented many communities of color to really be part of societies and the economy. Also, like in general, it’s manifested in so many other ways of creating separation within institutions. I also recently read an article on a couple that was trying to sell their home in Michigan and when they put up for appraisal because they were people of color their appraisal came down way lower than their neighbor who’s White that was selling the same neighborhood, like literally door-to-door, and their appraisal came up a higher rate.

So we can see some of these long-term effects, and I think structurally we need to evaluate some of the things that are being done by banks, mortgages, real estate, all these things that are affecting communities of color from prospering and living, you know, a good life, striving to educate their children to grow out of poverty, to come out stronger. How do we basically fundamentally evaluate some of the things that have affected people of color, Brown people, Black people from moving forward? How do we actively reinforce some of the segregation that has impacted them for a very long time? I think we just need to ask ourselves, “is this a partisan issue? What do we do going forward?” It really shouldn’t be a partisan issue; it should be an ongoing conversation that we’re having on racial inequalities/racial injustice, fixing some of the barriers today.

As you guys have seen, having our very first women of color being a vice president, having Joe Biden coming, you know, on top of things, reminding ourselves why it’s important to get into action [and] be part of this good trouble because it will paint the future for many of the younger generations. We’re not gonna be here in this position for a very long time; we need to pass the baton. And how do we do that? How do we come forward and work around voting rights, employment, health disparities, as well as change some of the backlash and experiences of Black communities and people of color going forward.

Jennifer Mayer-Glenn: Thank you, Fatima. Ashley? 

Ashley Cleveland: Thank you, and thank you again so much for inviting me to serve on this panel. It’s been really, really enlightening and it’s been a conversation that, you know, needs to happen more often. We have to be more vulnerable and have these conversations and see each other, you know, from all of our backgrounds and all of our struggles. When I think about what the impact is for our society and for people like Ciriac and my child in the generations coming before us, we are going to see a larger gap in the things that we are supposed to admire as this country. 

We’ll see larger gaps in life when we look at redlining in the disparities that come and happen between zip codes in regards to health. Just here in Salt Lake City, there’s a 10-year life expectancy gap between the east side and the west side. When we think about the pursuit of life, we need to look at the pursuit of having a healthy life and not dying sooner than other people in other communities. When I think about liberty, the pursuit of education, and participating in the economy, that is going to continue to be an issue when our wealth gap continues to increase and, you know, opportunities to be able to buy a home and participate in home ownership on stolen land is not available to us. Those same opportunities to buy a home allow people to send their kids to college, and right now African-American women are the ones who hold the highest amount of education/student loan debt, but we are still the ones who are graduating from university and educational institutions at a higher rate than everyone else these days.

When I look at the, you know, the pursuit of justice in our society we’re going to continue to see an increase in incarceration for Black, Indigenous, people of color. Our school-to-prison pipeline is going to get broader if we don’t look at what happens when you don’t provide resources to all communities equally. Safer communities aren’t the ones who are policed the most, they are the ones who have adequate resources.

 And then when we look at the environment, we’re going to have more disparities in that regard. The environment and climate change are going to continue to be a persisting issue, and if we don’t look at how to cool those effects, how to make transportation more equitable for everyone, how to make sure that access to recreation and healthy biodiverse environments are near everyone and all residents and children in cities and states, we’re going to see more of an impact towards the negative side if we don’t get involved and participate in some good trouble. Because good trouble does exist I see it here on this panel. 

I’m seeing it more with my colleagues, and I’m seeing it more in my community, you know. We have to be what we set out to be as a society, which is a society that takes care of everyone and that includes highlighting people who are underrepresented and underserved. 

Jennifer Mayer-Glenn: Thank you so much, Ashley. I’ll also just add to this question some things that I’ve seen when I think about environmental racism. We look at the inland port. We look at just the air quality in general in Salt Lake City and the higher rates of asthma that children have in areas in the bottom of the valley. Then, in addition to that, it also makes me think about decisions made which doesn’t point directly to redlining but definitely comes from the same kind of belief and attitude, and that is that there’s not a high school in the west side of Salt Lake except West High, but that’s far north and not that far west. But there are 1,300 students bused — in normal times — on a daily basis to East high and Highland High every day, and these are kids who, you know, have an experience who’s teachers don’t believe their parents are very involved in their education. They can’t get there, right? They don’t necessarily have access to good transportation or to vehicles themselves, and so they can’t go to the schools to meet with teachers and so on and so forth. 

The kinds of decisions that have been made historically that have impacted us geographically and just equitably in general, I think, is something that we really have to work on across all of our institutions and systems. 

So we have some questions from our audience here, so I think what we’ll do is I’ll ask a question and then invite any of you to just unmute yourselves and speak to the questions. 

So the first one is, “how important is it to legally remove discriminatory language from real estate documents, though the discrimination would be illegal so it may not be enforced?” So would any of you like to speak to that? 

Ashley Cleveland: Okay, I’ll take a stab at it. Normally it’s what these look like are deed restrictions, and so what I’ve seen and in my practice as the planner — I haven’t come across it very often, although I have seen it — is they’ll be a deed restriction attached to a piece of property. When someone wants to change the zoning on the property, or a type of use on the property, or do anything really that involves the city and bringing the property up to code or transitioning things about the property, that’s usually when something like that can be addressed. 

Franci Taylor: When we say “separate from fairly significant gerrymandering” that doesn’t give equal vote, equal voice to all people in the community. 

Jennifer Mayer-Glenn: Great, thank you, Franci. All right, let’s move on there’s some great questions here. So, um this one I think is really a present in Salt Lake City right now particularly, but “how do you think gentrification impacts areas that were formally redlined?” 

Fatima, I’m kind of looking at you. I know you can’t tell.

Fatima Dirie: I was like everybody’s just staring and glaring. So there’s a lot of development happening throughout Salt Lake City, as we can see, specifically in the areas that are largely lived by minorities, right? A lot of time they’re pushed out and they have to go further and further away and opportunities that they would be available to them are no longer available because they can’t afford to be in those neighborhoods; they’re having to go outside of that realm.

So currently the trends that we’re seeing are some of these housing are giving them discounts or low income, and still they’re smaller. So if they have large families, they still can be in those small unit apartments that are two bedrooms, but all of a sudden, the square footage is cut shorter, and they don’t have any means of supporting their children and large families. I think this is something that needs to be ultimately discussed with housing authorities and with various institutions. These minorities and families that are constantly being told you can’t live here anymore, you can go to this school district, because you no longer fit into the everyday lives of what we’re trying to do with these cities. I think this is an ongoing conversation we’re having.

There was a question about “food desert,” and we see during COVID-19 food banks having to provide odd hours for communities to come, open school for them to pick up lunches and breakfasts, because families are working essential jobs and they’re unable to feed their families. This is an ongoing conversation. At the city we have food equity policy personnel that have really listed a list of these resources and really try to evaluate some of our policies and making sure that we’re not leaving any communities out of the conversation and we’re relying on what they need rather than us giving out a handout, because handouts don’t work. Handouts don’t necessarily get people that turn you to thrive and become better citizens within their communities, so this is an ongoing conversation. I don’t think we have the right answers and gentrification is happening. Through Valley but Salt Lake City is definitely seeing a big impact around gentrification.

Jennifer Mayer-Glenn: Thank you. This next question, um, I think speaks a lot to, again, back to sort of that belief in attitude. “Working in lending, I have seen these implicit biases that exist in giving access to capital through lending. If we continue to live in a society that is centered around obtaining capital to sustain a good life, what way do you think is best to overcome these implicit biases and provide access to capital to people who experience prejudice?” Who would like to take that?

Ciriac Alvarez Valle: I can just say a little bit. Um, I think we have to acknowledge first that these implicit biases and racism don’t just exist in like one space or just like, you know, one lending practice, but in the whole system. There’s a lot that we have to do. The first of course is acknowledgement that it exists; that we have implicit biases — all of us. We have all, you know, we have to rethink and reimagine the way that we talk about people and how we understand the history of all of us as a nation, especially when it comes to discrimination and racism and acknowledge all of these past things when we think, when we are doing our job, when we are living and existing in the places that we do. So I do think there is a lot that needs to be done in spaces that engage with families, engage with people, in talking to an actual person. Go through trainings, not just one, not just two, but like continuous trainings on what does racial discrimination look like in the workplace, how does it  manifests itself when you are talking to families, or when lenders are talking to families. 

Again it’s not just, you know, home lenders or people who are working in housing, but in all parts of our lives. We also have to look internally in our own organizations. I think that’s one of the key key factors, right? If there are no people of color, if there are no people of diverse backgrounds, in your own organizations or you’re not treating them nicely, or kindly, or in the way that actually acknowledges the inequalities, then that’s just as discriminatory as if you have people who have never you know, acknowledged racism in the practices that they do.

I think there’s a lot that needs to be done, but first and foremost looking internally — having conversations about race, racism, and discrimination in your own organization’s businesses and then also continuous trainings on what can be done and how to how to speak about the history and discriminatory practices that were before and how plays out in the way that you talk to people, talk to families.

Jennifer Mayer-Glenn: Thank you. Another question: “what is something that students can do to combat the effects of red lining?”

Ashley Cleveland: I’m gonna chime in here. When I was a grad student at the U, I participated in something called the Bennion Center, and the Bennion Center was really great at getting us out into the community and off of campus to participate in things that are going on in our community — anything from, you know, participating in a community garden to helping out at a school. 

I think it would be really great if there was some type of pipeline to support our students and get involved with community councils, and understanding planning commissions, and getting to know their city council members and things of that nature. Because a lot of times when I speak with younger people in my community and the city that I work for, they’re quite intimidated by the entire process of civic engagement, not just from the aspect of, you know, just needing pure education on it because they’re university students — they’re very smart and capable and bright and can do tons of stuff — so it’s more so a feeling comfortable in a space that seems very professional and might not be inclusive of them being LGBTQIA, Indigenous, English language learner, even mothers who are students. I think that’s one way that students could get involved in the whole conversation about redlining.

If you don’t have the time, I would highly suggest reading publications that talk about just city planning and housing and environment just in general, there are some great recommendations that are out there if you just hop on Google, and don’t be afraid to sit on your community council! They usually meet once a month and, you know, they provide a lot of insight into what’s going on in your neighborhood and how you can directly have an impact on ordinances and zoning.

Franci Taylor: Actively seek to create coalitions. If January 6th taught us nothing, it’s sometimes frightening and dangerous to be the only ones speaking out, but if you can surround yourself with like-thinking people, you’re less likely to face repercussions. 

Ciriac Alvarez Valle: I also wanted to give a plug to the Hinckley Institute of Politics. I did an internship with them in D.C, and I know that they have a ton of different internships here in Salt Lake where you can get involved either at the legislative session, like right now there are legislative interns who talk about local issues while it’s not exclusively redlining it is about what is affecting our local communities. Also they have internships at local organizations…working with communities of color and grassroots efforts that are working towards bettering our communities, so just want to give a plug there. The internship opportunities are amazing if you want to get involved, but also want to get some professional experiences. 

Fatima Dirie: I was gonna just add additionally with internship volunteering and sort of getting connected with organizations like the Hinckley Institute, some of the programs like the Bennion Center, there is the TRIO program at the University of Utah, and the University Neighborhood Partners (UNP) is another great organization to really connect with students and communities of color from west side. Jenny Mayer-Glen here is the director of UNP. 

There are so many opportunities that are outlined. I think one of the things that I would like to plug in is to volunteer/mentor students of color, volunteer and get connected with individuals from minority communities, really hear their lens and their story from their own perspective rather than what you hear from the media, what you hear about them from other communities, or what’s written about them and the history and that context when you meet the individual and they tell you how they’ve been traumatized and how trauma has infected them from moving forward.

We run a volunteer program called Know Your Neighbor. If you want to get connected with refugees and immigrants, that’s one way to meet communities who are coming to the United States, New Americans. They need help with citizenship. They need help with language, or they just need help with employment. You can connect to the resources and provide access to equitable resources and help with everything that they’re struggling with. You can pave the way; you can be that individual that they rely on and they can call you rather when they’re facing these troubles and these challenging times.

There are many other ways that you can get connected with ethnic minority, faith-based organizations and another way: go to different churches, mosques, synagogues, and meet with these communities. Understand what they’re doing to impact their communities — to empower their communities — and how do you get involved as a student to move forward their message with what they’re trying to do.

Jennifer Mayer-Glenn: Thank you! We’re about five minutes away from ending here, and there is one more question here that I thought we could touch on. I actually think it’s the beginning of another conversation that we ought to be having some day, but so the question really says: “what do you think about what Gregory Squire says, ‘where different groups of people live and the homes in which they live are not simply neutral or random demographic phenomena. They profoundly influence the allocation of rewards in the United States.’” This also makes me think of the conversation that a lot of folks are having around reparations. I’m just wondering if there’s anyone who wants to speak to this concept. 

Ashley Cleveland: I’ll try and touch on that. When I think about you know zoning and how cities and states and regions are laid out in regards to housing and the rewards you get from that, I think about you know, pretty much how this nation was formed — the identity in which shape this country — we physically look at the urban form, right? 

We have manners and estates that support very hetero-normative households and things of that nature. When you support things like that, that provides awards towards property taxes that get input into your schools that allow you tax breaks and incentives that really pushes a narrative that this type of lifestyle is what is rewarded and accepted. These types of ideologies and practices in this household are what can be protected — not just from a safety standpoint, environmental standpoint, even a historic standpoint. 

When we look at historic neighborhoods, they’re typically not non-White neighborhoods. We have very few historic Black neighborhoods. We have very few historic Indigenous people neighborhoods. We have very, very few senses of self and identity when you go around the city and say, “this is the place; these people were here,” and that’s an award that they received from this society. 

So when I think about people who inhabit a space, the narrative that built around that historically is what’s provided in these households in these homes, you know, they hold a history. Homes hold a history. And unfortunately if you have been a renter or lived in an affordable housing complex, you’re seen as transient and, you know, even being someone who experiences homelessness you aren’t deemed respectable in a sense, even if you were to even speak out on issues that are facing you particularly that are very hard struggles, so I think respect is unfortunately a reward system that you know, our urban form has supported. 

Jennifer Mayer-Glenn: Thank you, Ashley. In the last couple of minutes, I just want to see if there are any other comments from the panelists — anything else that you feel like you would like to say.

Franci Taylor: I would just like to thank my co-panelists. This has been amazing, and I’m really appreciative have been included in this and allowed. 

One last thing I want to throw in is I ask everybody to open your minds up a little bit. I was sitting on a committee once, and they were talking about a museum and getting in more diverse groups of students and children coming in. And one of the committee members said, “well we already have two free days a year,” and I said, “have you considered the students on the west side of the tracks? How do they get here, who takes care of the rest of the family, what if the parents have to work on those two days, who’s going to feed them when they’re here, what are the benefits, what equipment do they have to support their environment and their experience here?” We need to think wider. 

But thank you again.

Jennifer Mayer-Glenn: Well, I guess we’ll turn over to you, Lori.

Lori McDonald: Thank you so much! I want to thank you, our wonderful moderator, Jenny. Thank you and our panelists we very, very much appreciate your time, your wisdom, your inspiration. This was a really really wonderful conversation, and I know it’s not the end, it’s the beginning to many more discussions, so thank you very much! 

We do also thank the Hinckley Institute of Politics for being our partner with this Reframing the Conversation, and we hope that our participants and others can join us for more Martin Luther King Week events. The website I was noting is right above us on many of our wallpapers behind us diversity.utah.edu/mlk has information about our upcoming events. We’ve got a film screening today of “Mossville,” we’ve got a book review tomorrow morning with Dean Kronk Warner, some really wonderful other events that can be perhaps accessible virtually from many places. We also would like to have you mark your calendars for next month’s Reframing the Conversation that will be on February 10th, and information and details will also be on the diversity.utah.edu website as those develop. 

Thank you again for everything. Thank you so much to the staff who have made this possible, and we very much appreciate your participation.

How important is it to legally remove discriminatory language from real estate documents, though the discrimination would be illegal so it may not be enforced?

Ashley Cleveland: Okay, I’ll take a stab at it. Normally it’s what these look like are deed restrictions, and so what I’ve seen and in my practice as the planner — I haven’t come across it very often, although I have seen it — is they’ll be a deed restriction attached to a piece of property. When someone wants to change the zoning on the property, or a type of use on the property, or do anything really that involves the city and bringing the property up to code or transitioning things about the property, that’s usually when something like that can be addressed. 

Franci Taylor: When we say “separate from fairly significant gerrymandering” that doesn’t give equal vote, equal voice to all people in the community. 

How do you think gentrification impacts areas that were formally redlined?

Fatima Dirie: So there’s a lot of development happening throughout Salt Lake City, as we can see, specifically in the areas that are largely lived by minorities, right? A lot of time they’re pushed out and they have to go further and further away and opportunities that they would be available to them are no longer available because they can’t afford to be in those neighborhoods; they’re having to go outside of that realm.

So currently the trends that we’re seeing are some of these housing are giving them discounts or low income, and still they’re smaller. So if they have large families, they still can be in those small unit apartments that are two bedrooms, but all of a sudden, the square footage is cut shorter, and they don’t have any means of supporting their children and large families. I think this is something that needs to be ultimately discussed with housing authorities and with various institutions. These minorities and families that are constantly being told you can’t live here anymore, you can go to this school district, because you no longer fit into the everyday lives of what we’re trying to do with these cities. I think this is an ongoing conversation we’re having.

Can you each address the issue of “food deserts” and civic planning in Utah?


Ashley Cleveland: One scholar named Mindy Thompson Fullilove talks about how we have, you know, higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, lower access to healthy food, we live in food deserts. These are things that impact our daily lives and, you know, make it harder for us to live healthier lives, because it’s not available to us. Not because we are not working hard or, you know, have the education available to us like, someone like me who has a master’s degree from the U, we still have a lot of things that we have to deal with.

Fatima Dirie: We see during COVID-19 food banks having to provide odd hours for communities to come, open school for them to pick up lunches and breakfasts, because families are working essential jobs and they’re unable to feed their families. This is an ongoing conversation. At the city we have food equity policy personnel that have really listed a list of these resources and really try to evaluate some of our policies and making sure that we’re not leaving any communities out of the conversation.

Working in lending, I have seen these implicit biases that exist in giving access to capital through lending. If we continue to live in a society that is centered around obtaining capital to sustain a good life, what way do you think is best to overcome these implicit biases and provide access to capital to people who experience prejudice?

Ciriac Alvarez Valle: I can just say a little bit. Um, I think we have to acknowledge first that these implicit biases and racism don’t just exist in like one space or just like, you know, one lending practice, but in the whole system. There’s a lot that we have to do. The first of course is acknowledgement that it exists; that we have implicit biases — all of us. We have all, you know, we have to rethink and reimagine the way that we talk about people and how we understand the history of all of us as a nation, especially when it comes to discrimination and racism and acknowledge all of these past things when we think, when we are doing our job, when we are living and existing in the places that we do. So I do think there is a lot that needs to be done in spaces that engage with families, engage with people, in talking to an actual person. Go through trainings, not just one, not just two, but like continuous trainings on what does racial discrimination look like in the workplace, how does it  manifests itself when you are talking to families, or when lenders are talking to families. 

Again it’s not just, you know, home lenders or people who are working in housing, but in all parts of our lives. We also have to look internally in our own organizations. I think that’s one of the key key factors, right? If there are no people of color, if there are no people of diverse backgrounds, in your own organizations or you’re not treating them nicely, or kindly, or in the way that actually acknowledges the inequalities, then that’s just as discriminatory as if you have people who have never you know, acknowledged racism in the practices that they do.

I think there’s a lot that needs to be done, but first and foremost looking internally — having conversations about race, racism, and discrimination in your own organization’s businesses and then also continuous trainings on what can be done and how to how to speak about the history and discriminatory practices that were before and how plays out in the way that you talk to people, talk to families. 

What is something that students can do to combat the effects of redlining?

Ashley Cleveland: I’m gonna chime in here. When I was a grad student at the U, I participated in something called the Bennion Center, and the Bennion Center was really great at getting us out into the community and off of campus to participate in things that are going on in our community — anything from, you know, participating in a community garden to helping out at a school. 

I think it would be really great if there was some type of pipeline to support our students and get involved with community councils, and understanding planning commissions, and getting to know their city council members and things of that nature. Because a lot of times when I speak with younger people in my community and the city that I work for, they’re quite intimidated by the entire process of civic engagement, not just from the aspect of, you know, just needing pure education on it because they’re university students — they’re very smart and capable and bright and can do tons of stuff — so it’s more so a feeling comfortable in a space that seems very professional and might not be inclusive of them being LGBTQIA, Indigenous, English language learner, even mothers who are students. I think that’s one way that students could get involved in the whole conversation about redlining.

If you don’t have the time, I would highly suggest reading publications that talk about just city planning and housing and environment just in general, there are some great recommendations that are out there if you just hop on Google, and don’t be afraid to sit on your community council! They usually meet once a month and, you know, they provide a lot of insight into what’s going on in your neighborhood and how you can directly have an impact on ordinances and zoning.

Franci Taylor: Actively seek to create coalitions. If January 6th taught us nothing, it’s sometimes frightening and dangerous to be the only ones speaking out, but if you can surround yourself with like-thinking people, you’re less likely to face repercussions. 

Ciriac Alvarez Valle: I also wanted to give a plug to the Hinckley Institute of Politics. I did an internship with them in D.C, and I know that they have a ton of different internships here in Salt Lake where you can get involved either at the legislative session, like right now there are legislative interns who talk about local issues while it’s not exclusively redlining it is about what is affecting our local communities. Also they have internships at local organizations…working with communities of color and grassroots efforts that are working towards bettering our communities, so just want to give a plug there. The internship opportunities are amazing if you want to get involved, but also want to get some professional experiences. 

Fatima Dirie: I was gonna just add additionally with internship volunteering and sort of getting connected with organizations like the Hinckley Institute, some of the programs like the Bennion Center, there is the TRIO program at the University of Utah, and the University Neighborhood Partners (UNP) is another great organization to really connect with students and communities of color from west side. Jenny Mayer-Glen here is the director of UNP. 

There are so many opportunities that are outlined. I think one of the things that I would like to plug in is to volunteer/mentor students of color, volunteer and get connected with individuals from minority communities, really hear their lens and their story from their own perspective rather than what you hear from the media, what you hear about them from other communities, or what’s written about them and the history and that context when you meet the individual and they tell you how they’ve been traumatized and how trauma has infected them from moving forward.

We run a volunteer program called Know Your Neighbor. If you want to get connected with refugees and immigrants, that’s one way to meet communities who are coming to the United States, New Americans. They need help with citizenship. They need help with language, or they just need help with employment. You can connect to the resources and provide access to equitable resources and help with everything that they’re struggling with. You can pave the way; you can be that individual that they rely on and they can call you rather when they’re facing these troubles and these challenging times.

There are many other ways that you can get connected with ethnic minority, faith-based organizations and another way: go to different churches, mosques, synagogues, and meet with these communities. Understand what they’re doing to impact their communities — to empower their communities — and how do you get involved as a student to move forward their message with what they’re trying to do.

What do you think about what Gregory Squires quote: “where different groups of people live and the homes in which they live are not simply neutral or random demographic phenomena. They profoundly influence the allocation of rewards in the United States?”

Ashley Cleveland: I’ll try and touch on that. When I think about you know zoning and how cities and states and regions are laid out in regards to housing and the rewards you get from that, I think about you know, pretty much how this nation was formed — the identity in which shape this country — we physically look at the urban form, right? 

We have manners and estates that support very hetero-normative households and things of that nature. When you support things like that, that provides awards towards property taxes that get input into your schools that allow you tax breaks and incentives that really pushes a narrative that this type of lifestyle is what is rewarded and accepted. These types of ideologies and practices in this household are what can be protected — not just from a safety standpoint, environmental standpoint, even a historic standpoint.

When we look at historic neighborhoods, they’re typically not non-White neighborhoods. We have very few historic Black neighborhoods. We have very few historic Indigenous people neighborhoods. We have very, very few senses of self and identity when you go around the city and say, “this is the place; these people were here,” and that’s an award that they received from this society. 

So when I think about people who inhabit a space, the narrative that built around that historically is what’s provided in these households in these homes, you know, they hold a history. Homes hold a history. And unfortunately if you have been a renter or lived in an affordable housing complex, you’re seen as transient and, you know, even being someone who experiences homelessness you aren’t deemed respectable in a sense, even if you were to even speak out on issues that are facing you particularly that are very hard struggles, so I think respect is unfortunately a reward system that you know, our urban form has supported. 

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