Planners are also responsible for maintaining the spatial dimension of racial inequalities. Capitalism is always racial—though the precise meaning and articulation of racial differentiation and domination varies and changes over time and place. In all instances, however, capitalism produces powerful racial ideologies, a set of human categories with supposedly inborn and homogeneous traits that legitimate the system’s inherent inequalities.
Within the capitalist state, planners are tasked with reproducing this racist order through a series of supposedly race-neutral tools that are, in reality, anything but. The clearest examples are zoning and urban renewal, two policies whose formal raison d’être is to create rational and orderly urban landscapes; in reality, however, these tools are often used to target one racial group for exclusion or expulsion while clearing the way for another’s quality of life.
Planning itself is not inherently racist; in fact, it is central to racism’s negation. But racial capitalism asks planners to sort out who will go where, under what conditions and for whose benefit. Such actions are intrinsically coercive. Planners often describe the force underlying their work as “police power.”
Samuel Stein, Capital City