Encapsulated Lives: The Aims of Racial Segregation

People are universally required to rationalize the relationship between the foreground and background of life so that they can go about dealing with their activities as a set of purposes not too often interrupted by items in the background of life, as happens when, let us say, people step into dog do-do when they are emerging, elegantly dressed, from a limo. One way to do that to create a stable equilibrium whereby the arena of background matters is put on hold by segregating them from the foreground events, though this may be at the cost of a heightened anxiety about the ability to maintain the truce. The lives of one group is encapsulated so that the members of that group can keep in the foreground what matters to them. An easy example of this is a retirement community. It provides physical security and other amenities that will appeal to old people who are becoming fragile so that they can go on with what seems to them a more or less normal set of activities even if these are somewhat more restricted than the lives that were led when people were living in “normal” communities. There are vans to take you from one place to another, to concerts and to downtown; there are walking trails so one can follow one’s doctor’s orders to exercise; there are small supermarkets so that one does not have to deal with the hustle and bustle of the outside world to get one’s shopping done. Political lectures and folk singers are brought “on campus”. All this is done so as to make life as stable for as long as possible before a resident is moved into the even more secure area of a nursing home.  

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