UNDESIGN THE REDLINE
is a framework for unearthing our most deep, systemic and entangled crises. This interactive exhibit, workshop series and curriculum explores the history of structural racism and inequality, how these designs compounded each other from 1938 Redlining maps until today, and how WE can come together to undesign these systems with intentionality.
The exhibit travels nationally to cities, towns and communities to learn together, activate and mobilize us into a strong “WE” capable of transformation. We think the exhibit should go everywhere.
WHAT IS REDLINING?
Beginning in 1934 with the National Housing Act [which established the Federal Housing Administration (FHA)], the now-defunct Home Owners’ Loan Corporation created “residential security maps” to indicate the level of security for real-estate investments in 239 cities. The newest areas— typically affluent suburbs considered desirable for lending purposes—were outlined in green and labeled as Type A. Type B neighborhoods, outlined in blue, were considered “Still Desirable”, whereas older Type C were labeled “Declining” and outlined in yellow. Type D neighborhoods, populated largely by African Americans and immigrants, were outlined in red and considered the most risky for mortgage support.
Lenders had to consider these standards if they wanted to receive FHA insurance for their loans. FHA appraisal manuals instructed banks to steer clear of areas with “inharmonious racial groups,” and recommended that municipalities enact racially restrictive zoning ordinances. This racial discrimination in mortgage lending shaped the demographic and wealth patterns of American communities for generations.
Redlining is how structural racism was designed into cities – a practice which continued legally into the 1970s, and continues to have ramifications today.
Undesign the Redline is an interactive exhibit that explores the history of structural racism and classism, how these designs compounded each other from redlining maps until today, and how we can come together to undesign these systems with intentionality.
“Undesign the Redline reminds us, going forward, we must live up to the Fair Housing Act’s central purpose—not just to root out discrimination, but, as the Act’s co-sponsor Senator Walter Mondale said, to promote ‘truly integrated and balanced living patterns.’” – U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
The exhibit helps “…shed the light on discriminatory policies and practices — many of them intentional — that form the root causes of clustered poverty and segregation…” – Enterprise Community Partners
Howard County Library System’s HiJinx podcast, Episode 19: Seeing Red, focuses on this exhibit. This episode features Richard Rothstein, author of The Color of Law, a forgotten history of how our government segregated America, and Braden Crooks, co-founder and partner of Designing the We which created Undesign the Redline. Tune in here via SoundCloud or listen on iTunes.
How Racist Property Laws Formed The Neighborhoods We Live In Today on The Kojo Nnamdi Show. Listen.
- HOLC “redlining” maps: The persistent structure of segregation and economic inequality
- Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America
- Umbrellas Don’t Make it Rain: Why Studying and Working Hard Isn’t Enough for Black Americans report
- Racial disparity in digital education
- Urban Institute: Reducing the Racial Homeownership Gap
- IPTV: Story of the KKK in Iowa
- African American Museum of Iowa
- Urban Institute: Race and Ethnicity
- Urban Institute: Housing and Housing Finance
- Mapping Inequality
- NPR: A ‘Forgotten History’
- Washington Post: Segregation Mapped
- Metro Areas are still Racially Segregated
- Planetizen: Racial Segregation
- Urban Institute: Exposing Housing Discrimination
- The Iowa Policy Project
- Legacy of Redlining on Des Moines, Iowa
- James Lowen: Sundown Towns Informational Website
- Author Honesty Parker: Writer, storyteller, and Des Moines Native