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Kansas City's racial and economic divide is 'not impossible' to fix, housing expert says

A Troost mural by JT Daniels.
Tommy Felts
Startland News
A Troost mural by JT Daniels. Troost Avenue is named after Kansas City's first resident physician, who enslaved six men and women.

Leah Rothestein, co-author of "Just Action: How to Challenge Segregation Enacted Under the Color of Law," examines ways in which local governments can take steps to remedy socioeconomic issues that are the result of racist policies.

Troost Avenue in Kansas City has historically been a racial and economic dividing line, with neighborhoods east of the street home to predominately Black residents while the west has wealthier, predominately white communities.

Every major metropolitan in the country is racially segregated like this, according to housing policy expert and author Leah Rothstein, and it's because of government policies.

Rothstein co-authored the book "Just Action: How to Challenge Segregation Enacted Under the Color of Law" with her father, Richard Rothestein.

A sequel to "The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America," the book demonstrates ways in which local governments have been successful in their efforts to remedy the social and economic injustices that created divided cities and left Black families less likely to obtain generational wealth.

"It won't be easy, but it's not impossible," Rothstein said. "Even though the federal government was one of the main drivers of creating segregation, once segregation is created, it's maintained and perpetuated, in large part through local policies. So we can start to make those changes in our own communities that will begin to move the needle locally, and then we can build a national movement that can eventually bubble up to the federal level."

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