Problem, research strategy, and findings: The ability of planning to address America’s urban problems of inequality, crime, housing, education, and segregation is hampered by a relative neglect of Whiteness and its role in shaping urban outcomes. We offer a justification for centering Whiteness within urban planning scholarship and practice that would examine its role shaping and perpetuating regional and racial injustices in the American city. The focus of planners, scholars, and public discourse on the “dysfunctions” of communities of color, notably poverty, high levels of segregation, and isolation, diverts attention from the structural systems that produce and reproduce the advantages of affluent and White neighborhoods. Planners and planning scholars frequently invoke a “legacy of injustice” with regard to concentrated poverty and disadvantage but not in regard to neighborhoods of White affluence. One is segregated and problematized and the other is idealized. Takeaway for practice: Planners and planning scholars need to understand the role of Whiteness, in particular White affluence, to assess the potential impacts of planning interventions. Doing so will inform a wider range of planning approaches to problems of racial and spatial equity.
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