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Johnson, James H., Jr.; Joyner, Ann Moss; & Parnell, Allan M. (2005). Minority Exclusion in Small Town America. Poverty and Race, 14(2), 3-4.


Using GIS-based spatial analysis and mapping techniques, we have begun to document several pernicious forms of contemporary racial discrimination which are sapping the lifeblood from African American and other minority communities in towns across the United States. Documentation of this type of minority exclusion is typically done by superimposing racial and ethnic composition data onto geo-coded public records pertaining to zoning, water and sewer services, infrastructure, and land-use development plans.
This technique shows a contemporary pattern of discrimination which builds upon a common historical pattern of racial residential segregation and involves the intentional manipulation of zoning and land-use regulations — most often by local White elites. Resembling the apartheid-like conditions that have contributed to the growth of an underclass in U.S. cities, African Americans and other minorities in these towns are denied political involvement in economic development decision-making and access to critical infrastructure resources like sewer services, while their neighborhoods typically are targeted simultaneously for locally unwanted land-uses such as highways and sewage treatment facilities. These discriminatory actions expose African Americans to major public health risks, heighten the incidence of poverty in their neighborhoods, and are a heretofore-unrecognized contributor to Black land loss.
We highlight how two specific, and related, mechanisms — annexation and extraterritorial zoning — are being used to create racial apartheid-like conditions in towns throughout the U.S. We conclude with a call for additional research on this topic.

Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Poverty and Race


Johnson, James H., Jr.
Joyner, Ann Moss
Parnell, Allan M.