Poor, black neighborhoods have persisted in America for decades. And despite a few public-policy efforts to make things better—which include helping families move to other neighborhoods, getting better jobs for parents, and placing children in better schools—there are some signs that poverty is becoming even more concentrated in American ghettos.
Yet the government’s interventions have amounted to policy tweaks, and haven’t focused enough on the unjust system that created these areas in the first place, argues Tommie Shelby, a Harvard professor of African-American Studies and Philosophy, in his recent book, Dark Ghettos: Injustice, Dissent, and Reform. Instead of discussing the actual end game of addressing concentrated poverty, Shelby comes up with a set of principles that he says should inform any movement to eradicate modern ghettos. I talked with Shelby about his book and what role the black poor have in redesigning their future. The interview that below has been lightly edited for clarity.