How the rise of gated spaces like swimming pools can quietly perpetuate racial tension - The Washington Post
This horrible McKinney, Texas, incident, with a cop brutalizing and menacing black kids while white people saunter around and manhandle the teenagers themselves, is instructive. It is no accident that it happened in an HOA, nor was it an accident that Trayvon Martin was shot to death by "neighborhood watch volunteer" George Zimmerman in an HOA. These associations first became popular in the US as a way to enforce contractual bans on selling homes to African-Americans. And after Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 banned separate but equal public accommodations, private swimming pools became available (for only the white residents) in your local HOA. The boom in HOAs began in the years immediately following the Brown decision, and one factor was that the real estate industry decided this was a way they could continue making money peddling racial segregation. There were other factors, but segregation was, and still is, one of the reasons so many white people want to live in private and especially gated communities.
"As Yoni Appelbaum points out over at The Atlantic, this context is particularly freighted: For decades, swimming pools in America have been sites of racial exclusion. Many of the fights to desegregate communities and public resources in the 1950s were waged over access to swimming pools. And the way they're used to this day still reflects a sweeping trend — more subtle in its exclusion but no less pervasive — that arose from that era. As public resources were desegregated in American cities, communities increasingly found ways to privatize them. In McKinney on Saturday, the black teens were not using a public pool. They were swimming, rather, in the communal pool of a private community in the predominantly white part of town where civic resources like parks and pools are funded directly by homeowners."