BlogKC has an illuminating map depicting the racial divide in Kansas City. It's not new. It's been a visual for the city since the 1950s. It's just that we can now map it in stark relief. We did a series of these maps at UMKC for several different projects in 2004 and 2005. People see this, they say "wow," and then they move on - until the next time they see the map. Yet nothing changes.
Kevin Fox Gothem is the authority on how this came to be. Google his books and articles. They are quite well written and researched and very informative. We are divided overtly by public policy. It didn't "just happen." It is intentional.
There have been a few recent reflections on the racial divide in KC with some folks suggesting that US 71 is the new Troost. It's all the same geography - east meets west and west runs away.
Look at our political districts. Precincts don't cross Troost. Ergo, political districts are divided by Troost, mainly because we are an East-West city and all our districts run North and South. Imagine if we divided the city in wide East-West districts that were stacked on top of each other from North to South. Some people's heads would explode. But changing the political boundaries would be the most expedient way to integrate the city. Imagine Brookside and Blue Hills having the same city council rep - who would have to satisfy constituents on both sides of Troost. Why....the residents might have to get to know one another and get along!
We have an amazing opportunity in KC at the moment - redistricting. Not just once, but twice! There are ways to cut the population so as not to dilute minority voting strength and to keep geographical proximity (both required by the US Supreme Court), AND ignore Troost or any other East West boundary. Sadly, every map that has been drawn as a possible redistricting does not even try to ignore Troost. It's as if it is cast in some kind of stone. And, sadly it is - by public policy.