mysophobia 潔癖

Nastiness Diagnosis. Anthropology. Religion. Gender. Justice. A Personal Notepad For the General Public.

Racism is well and alive in the US

The selectively highlighted transcript of

512:

House Rules
Transcript

Originally aired 11.22.2013

Well, there’s no question that black-white segregation has declined significantly overall in the United States. Specifically, some African Americans have left the highly segregated cities of the Northeast and the Midwest and migrated to less segregated Sun Belt cities. Also, relatively small numbers of African Americans who can afford it have moved into formerly all white or mostly white communities. What’s left behind are concentrated areas that are usually poor and mostly African-American.

But that can make it seem like segregation now is all about poverty rather than race, and it’s not. The average African-American household making $75,000 a year or more, that family lives in a poorer neighborhood than the average white family making less than $40,000 a year. That is, a black family making twice as much money as a white family probably still lives in a poorer neighborhood. That’s according to a study from Brown University. Racial segregation and not just people’s income is key to understanding where people live and why, though I’m not sure we’re facing the reality of that today.

 

In America, local property taxes fund our schools. So if you live in a rich area, you get better schools. And the gaps can be huge, right? In New York State, for instance, the richest school districts, the top 10%, spend $25,000 per student, which is twice as much as the bottom 10% spends per student. And yes, there’s federal money targeted to poor students, and yes, there are a tiny handful of states that have aggressively tried to shift the balance so poor kids get more because poor kids’ needs are greater, but by and large, if you’re living in a poor neighborhood, chances are your schools will get less money and not be as good. Neighborhood isn’t destiny all the time for everybody, but for a lot of people, it comes pretty close.

 

Act One. Rental Gymnastics.

L.B. is a tall, thin man, somewhere north of 45 years old. He’s soft-spoken, but he can be relentless when he’s looking for an apartment. He went to one building, found the super in the hall.

L.b. Hi.

Man You looking to live here?

L.b. Yes, I’m looking for a one-bedroom apartment for me and my wife.

Man One-bedroom apartment?

L.b. Yes, uh-huh.

Man Oh, I don’t have.

L.b. Like, you don’t have at all?

Man No.

L.b. No?

Man No.

 

That’s what the super told him. But L.B. knew that with apartment hunting, sometimes no just means you haven’t asked the right question yet.

L.b. Is there, like, a waiting list or something that you know– Can I put my name on a waiting list?

Man No, we don’t have.

L.b. Oh, you don’t?

Man No.

L.b.Can you tell me, like, how much are the apartments going for, how much– do you know?

Man $1,250.

L.b. $1,250? You know, well, we can afford that.

Nancy Updike

L.B. had to let it go. Except there was an apartment available, according to a later lawsuit. L.B. had been sent to the building not by his wife, but by a housing organization, as a test. L.B. is black, and the organization had also sent a white tester, Neal. Same income as L.B., also married, a little younger. He showed up at the same building, talked to the same super.

Neal Hello, good morning, thanks for letting me in. I’m interested in a one-bedroom for my wife and I. Do you have anything you can show me?

Man Yes.

Neal Thank you, sir.

The super let him in, and they went up to apartment 4F.

Neal Looks good, looks really good. Oh, this is a nice size room, huh? Very good.

Neal OK, so tell me what’s the rent?

Man $1,150.

 

This is the era we’ve been in for a while now. If you’re discriminated against in getting housing, there’s a decent chance you don’t know it happened. Maybe you don’t even suspect it. The whole idea seems like a throwback, that a person’s charm, tenacity, and income could count less than their race today when they try to rent or buy a home. And where you live can really matter.

It really started after the Great Depression. So in the early to mid ’30s, the federal government realized that home ownership was going to be a major way to build and fortify the middle class. So the Roosevelt administration starts to back loans. And so you only had to put down 20%. And this is when the practice of redlining actually began. The federal government was the one who introduced redlining.

Nancy Updike

Redlining is now pretty well known, and the word has become a catch-all for various maneuvers that banks and others have used to deny loans or services based on race. But most people may not know– I didn’t know– that it wasn’t banks that popularized redlining. It was the federal government under President Franklin Roosevelt, a Democrat, that drew red lines on maps around certain neighborhoods and refused to back home loans there. There were other designations on the maps, by the way, for areas with Jews and others, anyone who was perceived as risky. Banks followed the government’s lead in terms of lending, and so did big government programs that came out later, like the GI bill.

Nikole Hannah

It was not just about whether a neighborhood was black or not, but whether that neighborhood was integrated, and the government wanted to provide a disincentive to live in an integrated neighborhood. So if you were a white homeowner who didn’t mind living in an integrated neighborhood, you could not get a loan. And if you owned a home in an integrated neighborhood, you knew that you could not resell your home to other white folks, so you had to sell your home to black people and get the hell– oops, excuse me– get the heck out of there. Because your property values were absolutely going to go down. It had nothing to do with whether the black people in your neighborhood could afford to pay their mortgage, or whether–

Nancy Updike

They mowed their lawns, or–

Nikole Hannah

Right, exactly, not keeping their properties up. It was about the fact that the government was deeming these neighborhoods as less valuable. And so your property values were going to go down because the government had decided that black and integrated neighborhoods were automatically less valuable.

Nancy Updike

The federal government’s redlining drove white flight, and the government did not see this as a problem. Open racism was mainstream in the 1930s, including in the federal government. A manual put out by the Federal Housing Administration warned against undesirable encroachment of inharmonious racial groups.

And federal attitudes and policies amplified what was already happening at the local level. There was flat out violence in some places, first of all, against blacks trying to move into white neighborhoods. There were also racial zoning laws, something called racial covenants. These were contracts attached to properties that said things like “At no time shall said premises be sold, occupied, let, or leased to anyone of any race other than the Caucasian.” But discriminatory policies by the federal government had more reach than any local policy.

Nikole Hannah

And what ultimately happens, of course, between 1934 and 1964, 98% of the home loans that are insured by the federal government go to white Americans, building up the white middle class by allowing them to get home ownership. And black Americans are largely left out of that process. And, if there’s one thing that’s amazing about all of this, is how efficient the federal government was in creating segregation.

Nancy Updike

Around 1930, most black Americans in Northern cities are living in neighborhoods that are about 30% black. By the ’60s, the neighborhoods of African Americans in the industrial Northeast are 74% percent black and higher.

Nikole Hannah

No other racial or ethnic group has ever been that segregated. Even when you had large groups of immigrants coming from Ireland or Poland or Italy, even in places where they had Little Italys and things like that. So by 1960, cities have largely been abandoned by white Americans, you have massive public housing projects, where nearly everyone in there is black and poor, and even if you’re middle class and black, you can’t move out of those neighborhoods. You’re still forced to live in those very dead neighborhoods.

 

Nancy Updike

This is Newark, New Jersey in 1967. Some of you probably lived through the riots in your cities, but for those who didn’t, this video from Newark looks like scenes from a foreign war, where the military is fighting in the streets of a city. Truckloads of men in military uniforms are driving through. And riots were happening in cities all over the country. Los Angeles, Chicago, Cleveland, San Francisco, Tampa, Buffalo, Atlanta, Boston, Omaha, Waukegan, Detroit, Durham, Memphis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis.

Nikole Hannah

I can’t imagine this happening in dozens of cities every year for three years. Tanks rolling through American cities. You have combat troops in American cities. Buildings on fire.

Nancy Updike

President Johnson appointed a commission known as the Kerner Commission, Republicans and Democrats, to look into the riots, which were freaking out the entire country– no surprise. In debates, some members of Congress argued that civil rights legislation, including a housing law, would reward and encourage rioting. The Kerner Commission’s report came out while Congress was debating a fair housing bill for the third time, after it had failed to pass twice before.

The report was published as a paperback book– I’m looking down at a copy right now– and it’s got three questions emblazoned on the front. These are the questions President Johnson had publicly asked the commission to address. What happened? Why did it happen? What can be done?

Nikole Hannah

It sold something like two million copies when it first came out, so Americans were actually really interested–

Nancy Updike

That’s a bestseller.

Nikole Hannah

–in this report. It was definitely a bestseller, and back then it was certainly a bestseller. But you have to understand, there had been four years of rioting in cities all across the country. And so I think many Americans were anxious to read an assessment of why this was.

Nancy Updike

The report is more than 600 pages, but its conclusion was simple, and has been famously and repeatedly quoted since. Quote, “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black and one white, separate and unequal.” The commissioners had spent months going to the cities, looking at data, interviewing people, residents, police, politicians, and they concluded that there was one central driving force behind the riots. This is Nikole quoting from the book. She’s got her own copy.

“Segregation and poverty have created, in the racial ghetto, a destructive environment totally unknown to most white Americans. What white Americans have never fully understood, but what the Negro can never forget, is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it.”

 

Well, there’s no question that black-white segregation has declined significantly overall in the United States. Specifically, some African Americans have left the highly segregated cities of the Northeast and the Midwest and migrated to less segregated Sun Belt cities. Also, relatively small numbers of African Americans who can afford it have moved into formerly all white or mostly white communities. What’s left behind are concentrated areas that are usually poor and mostly African-American.

But that can make it seem like segregation now is all about poverty rather than race, and it’s not. The average African-American household making $75,000 a year or more, that family lives in a poorer neighborhood than the average white family making less than $40,000 a year. That is, a black family making twice as much money as a white family probably still lives in a poorer neighborhood. That’s according to a study from Brown University. Racial segregation and not just people’s income is key to understanding where people live and why, though I’m not sure we’re facing the reality of that today.

 

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This entry was posted on November 28, 2013 by in 雜Variety.
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