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The McKinney, Texas, pool party shows racial segregation is still alive in America

A police officer detains black teens at a McKinney, Texas, pool party.
A police officer detains black teens at a McKinney, Texas, pool party.

Before a McKinney, Texas, police officer arrived at a high school pool party and abused some of the black attendees, several residents of the mostly white community called 911 and reportedly said that the black teens didn't belong there, and one adult allegedly told them to return to "Section 8 [public] housing."

These comments demonstrate one of the ugliest aspects of systemic racism in America today: segregation still exists — although it's no longer explicitly sanctioned in the law, but now takes the form of making certain neighborhoods unaffordable for minority residents.

"I think a bunch of white parents were angry that a bunch of black kids who don't live in the neighborhood were in the pool," Brandon Brooks, a white 15-year-old who recorded police officer Eric Casebolt's actions, told BuzzFeed's David Mack.

As the Pew Research Center found in 2012, residential segregation by income has increased during the past three decades in 27 of the US's 30 largest major metropolitan areas. Among the 10 largest metro areas, Pew found two in Texas — Houston and Dallas, which includes McKinney — had the worst levels of economic segregation.

Since minority Americans are more likely to be poor, this type of segregation has an unequal racial impact, splitting white people and minorities by neighborhood. Other factors, such as housing policies, zoning laws, and historical settlement, can further compound these racial disparities.

As one example, the effect can be seen in this overhead visual of Dallas by the University of Virginia's Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, which mapped racial segregation across the US:

This map shows racial segregation in the Dallas area. Blue dots are white residents, green are black residents, orange are Hispanic residents, and red dots are Asian residents. There's very little overlap.

Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service

The map above — which shows white residents as blue dots, Hispanic residents as orange dots, and black residents as green dots — visualizes a clear racial divide. Northern Dallas is almost wholly white, while southern Dallas is nearly entirely black and Hispanic. There's very little overlap from neighborhood to neighborhood.

McKinney has dealt with issues surrounding racial segregation in the past, as well. In 2009, the city and its housing authority were sued by a local group over housing discrimination after local officials rejected a proposal to build more affordable and low-income housing to help racially desegregate the area, the International Business Times's Aaron Morrison reported. Authorities agreed to a settlement that enabled the construction of more low-income housing units, but racial segregation remains a sticky issue in the region.

The racial divide may help explain why adults in a largely white neighborhood in McKinney, which is overall 64.5 percent white and 10.5 percent black, reacted so harshly to a group of black teens trying to have fun at a party in a community pool: segregation may have made it so that many in the well-off community view black people as outsiders.

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