10 Ways Historic Preservation Policy Supports White Supremacy and 10 Ideas to End It

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In the United States, policy-driven work in historic preservation comprises about three-quarters of the field’s work. Addressing issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity in federal and local preservation policies has usually been synonymous with the need to recognize the history of people with non-dominant racial or ethnic identities. While this omission is very much a policy problem, it is far from the only manifestation of how preservation policies support White supremacy, especially through the field’s pervasive regulatory climate. To more fully explore the policy problems in the field, this paper attempts to define ten ways in which preservation policy supports White supremacy followed by specific recommendations to solve some of these issues. A central theme is for the National Park Service and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to open up and support the rule-making process around the National Register of Historic Places and the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards. A secondary theme is to support people-centered changes to historic preservation policy, including more flexibility around what have often been dogmatic approaches to significance and integrity.