Is Parking Racist? Part 2


Is Parking Racist? Part 2

I wrote last month that I was going to host a discussion on racism in parking. I had read a number of articles about the topic and felt maybe it was one that could be of value to our industry. I have come to the conclusion it is a topic that can be beneficial and could also be harmful.

I have received an article that invites discussion, and I will print that in the August Issue of PT. I received another article that may cause discomfort among some of our readers. I will print it also, but with some comments. I think that an accusatory approach never brings benefits, but perhaps we need to see all sides.

My comments about racism last month did elicit the following thoughtful piece from the UK:

The topic ” Is Parking racist” seems to show the huge difference between US and the UK and Europe. I would be interested to understand why or if anyone actually would think in this way.
The parking sector is so huge, that for instance, whilst offering permits cheaper in one residential zone to another, may make one believe the thought of race played a part, actually most authorities, care about their residents over commuting visitors and thats just one reason to have for instance cheap residential parking, regardless of race and charge anyone else more.

With regards enforcement, the extremes we have often heard are “you gave me a ticket, because of my colour, perceived race, height, size, the vehicle I am driving” The difficulty with that statement in 2020 is that thousands of penalty charge notices (as called by some) are issued around the world, from unattended camera’s, that are rear facing, so its not generally acceptable for a choice to be available based on anything other than the offence. Whilst carrying out enforcement outside a school, the priority has to be that of the kids.

Its quite possible for parts of the parking industry, being so global, to make the question true, but i would be interested to see how the question pans out. It could be the perfect opportunity for us all to continue to design out, the issue of any ambiguity based not just on race, but just being imperfect humans on any average day of the week.

I tend to agree.  It seems to me that there is little evidence that in the current day racism has any more to do with the reasons parking rules were passed and enforced than the fact that a local business or neighborhood wanted to protect a valuable asset. We aren’t perfect, and we make mistakes. Can we not approach those mistakes without rancor and see them for what they are? Maybe overzealous, maybe in error, maybe a rule seeped in time and times have changed. Or maybe, just maybe, some rules offer solutions to problems and make our streets safer for all.

I welcome your comments and any discussion. Thanks.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

6 Responses

  1. I just happened to see your post regarding racism is parking. I would say, yes. There is some implicit bias & systemic racism built into most, if not all, of our institutions. It is common place for women and ppl of color (and other marginalized groups) to be under-represented in board rooms and in the leadership of institutions, including parking. This appears normal, because it has been that way so long. What’s missing is the education and acceptance of WHY it been that way- it was intentional, even legal for so long that it became accepted as ‘the norm’ (status quo), even for those being marginalized. This issue persists because It can not be resolved without the participation of those being marginalized. So exclusion and under-represented only serves to keep this cycle going; as does the failure, or refusal, to recognize and acknowledge the history that has lead us to where we are now. Racism is a tough subject, but it’s resolution requires having that tough dialogue (not debate) where those being marginalized are listened to & believed and where whites are willing to sacrifice feeling comfortable rather than finding justification for the marginalization.

  2. A dialogue is among other things, an “Exchange of ideas that is aimed at resolution.” When you start from the position that “it’s resolution required having that tough dialogue where those being marginalized are listened to and believed and where whites are willing to sacrifice feeling comfortable ….” that is a position where the person or group you are having a dialogue must first believe your comment out of hand, certainly doesn’t bring the possibility of resolution close to the top of the dialogue.
    My experience in these conversations is that I end up being told what I, as a representative of all white people everywhere, need to do something, usually not specified, to end systemic racism and when I ask questions about it, I end up being called a racist.
    I’m not sure this is a tough subject. Certainly racism has existed since the beginning of time. The question is whether the myriad of things we have tried to do about it (Civil wars, emancipation proclamations, voting rights acts, the civil rights acts of 1964 and 68,) have been such a failure or not.
    To continue the dialogue, I would ask just what the expectation is on the part of marginalized groups. Obviously I am missing something.

  3. One thing you are missing is the history that demonstrates what people of color have experienced and experience. There is Slavery, then the end of slavery and Reconstruction (two steps forward) was met with the backlash of Jim Crow (one step back). After fighting in the same wars as whites, Black soldiers not getting the same VA loans and GI bills. Black family being red-lined into low value neighborhoods and because schools are funded locally- attending poorly funded schools. The effort of Affirmative Action, was met with back-lash, the voting rights act gutted of key enforcement mechanisms, and the election of a ‘black’ president met with the back-lash of electing our current president. The numerous people of color killed at the hands of police who ‘fear’ them vs giving them the benefit of doubt and the simple kneeling in protest of this, met with more back-lash. An Arkansas Senator fighting to prevent black history from being told by those who experienced it and calling slavery “a necessary evil”. I could go on… There have been several efforts to address racism and progress made, however it still exists and more work can be done. Obvious racism had become more subtle and now it seems to be moving back in the opposite direction.

    Suggesting, in the face of available evidence, that somehow the marginalized people are unbelievable is problematic. To resolve any problem, we must first recognize and acknowledge there is one… To Repent, we must first acknowledge the sin. You have articulated why the subject is tough- whites don’t want to hear it and be cast negatively, and blacks are tired of trying to convince them that it exists.

    Sadly, this is by design, some benefit as we remain divided by race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and/or socioeconomic status; they continue to benefit as long as we “the people” remain divided & distracted. We are far more powerful together, than we are apart.

    We all need to practice more selflessness and begin to treat others the way we want to be treated (put the shoe on the other foot). None of us is without faults and no one is better than another.

  4. Yes, it is all about one’s point of view. I have never walked in your shoes, nor you in mine. We can only pray that we will see through all the fog and sturm und drang we get from our media and maybe find a sliver of truth. Its difficult when we are bombarded constantly from all sides with information that is honed to fit one agenda or another.


  5. Valid reasons why we need to ‘dialogue’ with one another where we actually listen to and acknowledge that regardless of the differences, we will be mindful of each other’s shortcomings. This dialogue would allow us to base our views/knowledge on each other (from the horse’s mouth) and not info honed to fit one agenda or another.

  6. Thank you for you comments, L. Lee! I think you’ll agree with the article my colleagues and submitted for the next issue of Parking Today and your replies here make me hopeful that JVH will find his audience is perhaps more open to these ideas than he thinks.

    I’d be interested in hearing more about you, if you’d like to shoot me an email.


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