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Racial discrimination does drive government spending

I strongly recommend to the writer of the letter “City spending isn’t driven by race” (Dec. 16) a vitally important book published this year titled “The Color of Law” by Richard Rothstein. The book details in heartrending, sometimes shocking detail the incontrovertible fact that federal, state and local governments have, since the early 1930s, instituted and reinforced the kind of racial segregation that has given rise to gross disparities in neighborhood conditions and impoverishment in cities and suburbs across our nation.

The letter was prompted by a recently released study revealing significant racial disparities in the way Baltimore allocates public construction dollars. Far from the charge of race baiting that his letter indignantly accuses, the study does no more than remind us of the seemingly indelible patterns of neglect and segregation deeply rooted by policy, and systematically enforced by local government over many, many decades. The Rothstein book and the local study also underscore that, despite more recent attention to tackle these intractable problems, it takes sustained political will to break long established patterns of neglect and disinvestment in Baltimore and forge a more equitable city-wide distribution of public funds and resources.

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Jane Harrison, Baltimore

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