Legislation Targeting Racial Inequality in Baltimore Moves Forward

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Ahead of the election in November, Baltimore city councilman Brandon Scott introduced legislation that would compel city agencies to assess its policies to see whether they are discriminatory. The two bills would create an approximately $15 million annual fund that would work towards helping to diminish government inequality in the city based on race and discrimination.

Historically, Baltimore was one of the first cities in the country to be segregated and the repercussions of these racist policies are still felt to this day. Baltimore is actually still one of the most segregated cities in the US, according to 2010 Census data.

According to Councilman Scott, “Much work needs to be done to make sure city government is treating people fairly regardless of their race, gender or socioeconomic status.” Racial segregation and socioeconomic inequalities seem to go hand in hand in the city, with city plans showing that of $670 million of budgeted capital projects, mostly white neighborhoods would receive twice as much as those neighborhoods populated by mostly African Americans, according to a city planning department analysis.

The funding would require voter approval on the November ballot. Critics of the bills say the city can’t afford the funds and question where the money would come from and what current city services and agencies would be negatively affected by cuts from their budgets.

Besides for inequalities, data shows that people from poorer areas who earn less money are much likelier to die or be killed, including being victims of traffic accidents, compared to people hailing from financially better-off areas. This discrepancy can be attributed to lack of money allocated to fix unsafe roads with poor road conditions, more outdated vehicles lacking modern safety features, cheaper and less safe vehicles, and slower and less access to health and emergency care centers in case of an accident.

According to data put forth by the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers found that motor vehicle fatalities overall fell from 1995 to 2010. Yet disadvantaged people remained much likelier to be victims of vehicle accidents compared to those with more means, according to the Law Office of Henry Queener.

This inequality is very present in the Baltimore area where there were death by a car accident is predicted to be the seventh cause of death amongst residents by 2030. The poorer areas have less advantageous driving conditions and increased population density, both of which can contribute to fatal accidents.

For increased road safety levels and to save lives in disadvantaged areas, the local government would need to specifically put forth legislation that would address these issues, in addition to more general legislation addressing racial inequality.

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