EP19: Unhealthy Zones: How Urban Planning Affects Black Health
The tables have turned in this latest episode – we put our podcast host Aidil Ortiz in the hot seat. Most of us know her as such and recognize her extensive resume in public health, but little did Ortiz know her work would lead her to a bicycling and pedestrian commission in Durham.
Think about the city or neighborhood you live in right now. Do you have sidewalks and clean parks or bike trails? Can you hear the trains as they come by; is the interstate built over your home?
These kinds of questions got Ortiz to look at her neighborhood differently and learn more about urban planning.
Urban planning is the process of arranging a space or land to work, live and play in it. Though we may think of urban planning as streetlights and skyscrapers, people have been urban planning since the beginning of human existence.
Much of the infrastructure in this country is already in place, but when we look back at how it was developed, we can see that there are ties to racism. Some city codes did not allow for Black people or white people to live in certain areas, placing Black people in areas that had sewage problems or were inaccessible to green spaces.
Fast forward to today, some cities are still working through the effects of these aged plans. These segregated urban plans include a lack of fresh air, lack of easy access to healthy food stores, poor transportation and pollution. More minorities are getting involved in urban planning and residents, like Ortiz, are fighting back to bring forth the needed changes for health and social equity for Black communities.