The documentation film focuses on impact of the FHA low interest rate the government created but that only benefited one group of individuals: the white. As a result, the other minority groups were left out to rent, which adds no equity since renting is not an investment. African-Americans were still technically in slavery, thereby unable to even become a home owner. So, when the time came for an African-American to become a home owner, the whites were already way ahead of them financially. Blacks are doing worse than whites in everything, not necessarily because of merit or hard work, but because of the racialized nature of our laws, courts, customs, and perhaps most pertinently, housing. In the documentary, I learned how the colored people didn’t get a chance from the government even those that fought for our freedom. Still, after World War II, when segregated suburbs like Levittown popped up around the country, built with the help of new federal policies and funding, real estate practices and federal government regulations directed government-guaranteed loans to white homeowners only and kept non-whites out. Those on the other side of the color line were denied the same opportunities for asset accumulation and upward mobility. Basically the government set the color people to fail from the beginning and it is only getting worst with time. Many people are working on adapted “Colorblind” policies which ignores race and that only perpetuates these inequities. As Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun wrote, “To get beyond racism we must first take account of race. There is no other way.”
As “The House We Live In” documentary shows us, until we address the legacy of past discrimination and confront the historical meanings of race, the dream of equality will remain out of reach. With our current leadership in Washington DC we have seen things that we couldn’t even imagine: racist people are more on the open, the police officers are more violent toward color people etc.
I had the opportunity to move out of a poor neighborhood and purchased a home at a middle-class neighborhood with the help of my white ex-boyfriend. There, my daughter was given the opportunity to live in a middle-class white neighborhood, she attended a middle-class elementary school, middle-school and high school. Because of that, she was able to obtain a college education. However, her cousins who did not have her opportunity to leave the minority area ended up pregnant without a high school diploma. Those that didn’t get pregnant stopped going to school for a college degree right after high school. Within three years of our moving to the white community, all the whites sold their house and moved away. We attended a church that was predominantly white, with only five black families including my family. Within those three years, the church has become predominantly black with maybe ten white families, including the four pastors. They sold their homes most likely because of the opportunity to cash in on their investment. Just like the documentary video, black people move in, and then the whites sell their home and move away.
It is extremely sad to know that today, the net worth of the average Black family is about 1/8 that of the average white family. Much of that difference derives from the value of the family’s residence. Houses in predominantly white areas sell for much more than those in Black, Hispanic or integrated neighborhoods, and so power, wealth, and advantage – or the lack of it – is passed down from parent to child. Wealth isn’t just luxury or profit; it’s the starting point for the next generation.
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