The central theme of “ A Traffic Jam” in the framework of The 1619 Project, breaks down how the intent of racism and segregation is built into the environment of everyday surroundings without us even realizing it. Through a Socio-Political/racial Lens, the article highlights the historical power dynamic between white and colored individuals, with white people being the majority and colored people being the minority during the time of infrastructure development.  This is supported when Kruse described the aftermath of the Civil War. He mentions how African Americans were pushed into the ghettos so that they were “out of sight”. The article “ A Traffic Jam”, examines how the dynamic between black and white people during historical events, heavily influenced the infrastructure and environment we live in today.  

In the article, the difference in the dynamic of power people black and white people, is really prominent during urban planning. When I had made my initial analysis of the article and the image, I believed that the roads were made to be congested purposefully to catch and weed out the black people on the road. I was not aware of how the location of the infrastructures like the interstates discussed in the article played such a huge role. This was a way for the white people, to keep the marginalized group at a disadvantage. An example of this is when the federal government placed most interstates near primarily racial minority communities after the Second World War. This was during a time when the federal government was made up of only white men. Their actions destroyed African American communities by cutting straight through them with busy roads. Not only this, but the roads were meant to separate the white, from the black community. These were plans, made to keep the black people down and the people of today didn’t even realize it. 

Kruse’s article contributes to the re-examining of the legacy of slavery in America, by going back to historical events and the power dynamic between the black and white people. This same examination of Philadephia shows that there are similarities even if not exactly the same. An example of this is when, “During the first half of the 20th century, local and federal governments prevented African Americans and other minority populations from homeownership through the creation of discriminatory federal mortgage programs and redlined appraisal maps.” This made is so white populations had access to capital and privilege necessary for homeownership, creating segregation in Philadelphia’s community. This created an environment where white people held the power and the black people were the ones who were marginalized. This shows how segregation and racism, can play a huge role in the very core of society, without people even noticing. “A Traffic Jam” brought to life how racism still lies in our everyday surroundings, and if we open our eyes wide enough, we will notice it.  We will see the world through a different lens. 

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April 5, 2024 10:34 pm

I would like to start by saying that I really like your cover photo and title, I think it’s really creative. Since we’re talking about traffic jams did you come up with that in connection to the article, since the word “revving” refers to increasing the engine speed of a vehicle.

Cianna White
April 5, 2024 2:52 pm

Hi Jenna! I like how wholesome and happy your photo cover is warm and welcoming. The topic of segration can be very brutal but your pictures gives it some hope. You helped simplify redlining for me. What did you put in Adobe to generate that image?

April 5, 2024 2:45 pm

I’d like to start with, I love your image, it is super wacky but still very interesting and makes me start to interpret the context in a different light. What was your goal with using the image, and how did you interpret it? Maybe if you added a personal perspective, it could heighten the intensity of your writing. Overall Jenna, great job!

April 5, 2024 1:55 pm

I love your comments and notes about Alatna Jenna. It’s extremely insightful to hear about some of the strengths that are displayed on social and racial lenses. I also love your cover art, it’s very colorful and expressive and I personally believe it goes along with your writing.

April 5, 2024 3:50 am

I like your observations about the physical landscape of Atlanta with insightful commentary on the historical roots and ongoing impacts of racism and segregation.Your writing is clear and accessible, and I like how you had a comparative analysis of similar trends in other cities. Great job on the title too.

April 4, 2024 11:31 pm

The title of your opinion piece stood out to me! I agree with your ideals as it relates to the creation and progression of the racial tensions we see in our society even today. It’s crazy how the Civil War alone would have such a huge impact on so many different aspects of this country. I can also appreciate your analysis of your own previous thinking, and revisions made. Your final paragraph gives me a deeper understanding of what redlining is, and what it looks like here in Philadelphia. But it also reminds me of the work that is being done in New Jersey to not only make redlining illegal there but also nationally. It’s just crazy that these same issues still exist in today’s time.

April 4, 2024 10:18 pm

That’s very great about these things because that’s how it’s helping and that’s how it’s extending and displaying more and more strength.I like that this piece was examined via a social-political and racial lens, which enables readers to consider the implications the author raises more closely. I concur that there is a link between urban design and segregation, and that developers deliberately targeted Black people with their actions.

Last edited 1 month ago by Abduljaleel
Charlie M
Charlie M
April 4, 2024 3:47 pm

I chose to comment on this post because the art of the cover photo caught my eye and stood out. I wonder what your description was in order to generate the image and how it relates to the context of your writing. I also like how you structured your paragraphs from a brief summary of the reading, to your opinion on the information, and then comparing it to your own community.

April 4, 2024 3:47 pm

Hey Jenna, your title is so creative! I love your analysis of a Traffic Jam! It’s eloquently written and your expanse of knowledge shines through your word choice! You went in depth on the history and you did an excellent job conveying the cause and effect of racial discrimination on urban planning. How do you think looking at an economic lens could further these thoughts? Great job!

April 4, 2024 1:53 pm

The analysis does a good job showing how Traffic Jam reveals racism in the built environment. A strength is connecting this to The 1619 Project’s themes about historical power imbalances. However, it could separate examples from the article versus outside evidence more clearly. Overall, it thoughtfully examines how past injustices shaped the physical world we live in. Great job!

April 3, 2024 3:32 pm

Jenna I feel like this demonstrates a keen understanding of the socio-political and racial dynamics that shape our environment. I was drawn to your thoughtful exploration of how historical power dynamics between black and white individuals continue to influence urban planning and infrastructure today. Your interpretation of the article’s discussion on the deliberate placement of interstates near racial minority communities after World War II sheds light on systemic efforts to perpetuate inequality. It’s important to reflect on how these historical injustices still impact marginalized communities today and consider what actions we can take to address them. How do you think we can raise awareness about these systemic issues and advocate for change in urban planning and infrastructure development?

April 3, 2024 3:16 pm

I love your title which is what brought be to your article. Good job with grabbing the readers attention with just the title. I also like how you broke the topic down in your work.

April 3, 2024 3:10 pm

The title of this article is what caught my attention, specifically the word “revving”. I enjoyed how you continuously refer back to the article in your writing, it shows the depth in which you read the article. The only suggestion I would make is to remove words like “really” and “very” and instead replace them with singular words that have the same emphasis you are trying to show. I also liked when you mentioned what new perspective the article gave you, it helped to reflect on my new ways of thinking since reading the article. If you had to tell your past self before you read the article one key thing about it, what would you say?

April 3, 2024 3:06 pm

I like the use of a Social Political/racial lens to examine this article, this allows people to closer inspect the implications that the article gives off. I agree with the connection between urban planning and segregation and how the developers purposefully did the things they did to affect black people. Also I found your bright and vibrant photo to be interesting compared to the seemingly negative commentary we are making on race relations and history.

April 3, 2024 3:04 pm

To start, I love the vibrancy of your image for the post. It caught my eye while going through the sea of posts. Your piece displayed an insightful observation of the infrastructure of urban cities through the article created by Kruse. I’m curious about how you used “colored people” in the text. Was this to cover all minorities or just another phrase to describe black people. The evidence from the article you provided gave a deeper understanding to your words. I really enjoyed reading your work.

Owen Williams
Owen Williams
April 3, 2024 2:52 pm

I really love how your image on your post coveys happiness, celebration, and liveliness. The image really captured my attention with the bright colors while talking about a topic that doesn’t necessarily connect to bright colors. I do wonder why you decided to use the term “colored people” in your post instead of “people of color”, was there a deeper meaning to using that term? I had not considered that the roads were built to “weed out” black people. Overall, your article was very insightful and pleasant to read.

April 3, 2024 2:26 pm

Jenna, Thank you for providing such a thoughtful and nuanced analysis of Kevin M. Kruse’s article “A Traffic Jam in Atlanta Would Seem to Have Nothing to Do with Slavery. But Look Closer” within the framework of The 1619 Project. Your commentary effectively highlights the central theme of how racism and segregation have been insidiously woven into the fabric of our everyday surroundings, often in ways that go unnoticed or unquestioned.
I love how astutely you pointed out how the article examines the historical power dynamics between white and minority communities, particularly in the context of urban planning and infrastructure development. Kruse’s exploration of how African American communities were systematically marginalized, relegated to ghettos, and cut off from essential resources and transportation networks by discriminatory practices like redlining and the strategic placement of highways is a poignant reminder of the lasting impact of systemic oppression.
I really like the way your analysis also draws compelling parallels between Atlanta’s experience and the similar patterns of segregation and inequality that have shaped other cities, such as Philadelphia. The examples you provide, such as the discriminatory federal mortgage programs and redlined appraisal maps that denied minority communities access to homeownership and perpetuated segregation, further reinforce the pervasive nature of these injustices across different urban landscapes.
Overall, your commentary effectively captures the essence of Kruse’s article and its contribution to The 1619 Project’s mission of re-examining the legacy of slavery in America.

April 3, 2024 1:54 pm

Your interpretation of “A Traffic Jam” emphasizes how racism pervades society and shapes our surroundings. The essay effectively highlights the historical power relations between white people and people of color, exposing the intentional marginalization and segregation that is sustained by decisions made about urban development. You’ve shown an understanding of social disparities by reflecting on how the article changed your first impressions, especially about the purposeful placement of infrastructure in underprivileged minority areas. The link made between historical occurrences and contemporary effects, including biased housing laws, serves as a powerful reminder of racism and slavery’s lasting influence on American culture. All in all, your comments capture the significance of analyzing our environment critically and recognizing the subtle but significant impact racism has on daily life.

Youth Voices is an open publishing and social networking platform for youth. The site is organized by teachers with support from the National Writing Project. Opinions expressed by writers are their own.  See more About Youth VoicesTerms of ServicePrivacy Policy.All work on Youth Voices is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License


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