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Policies that have slowed down Black homeownership in America

Aerial view of New Jersey Suburbs
Aerial view of New Jersey SuburbsShutterstock

In the book, Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North, author Thomas J. Sugrue brings to the forefront the suburban developments in Levittown, Pennsylvania- that excluded African Americans and became bastions of White Supremacy. The suburban area of Levittown amongst other cities across the North was experiencing what has been said to be ‘The Imperfect Rise of the American Suburbs’.

America said “separate but equal” but it was more like “separate and serfdom” with self-serving policies to keep it that way. Policies that were created to specifically keep Black people from moving out of the ghettos, and to keep them from marketing their labor in competition with White people, unless it was absolutely necessary and served a self-serving purpose. Policies like Redlining and Racial Covenants, Contract Buying, and Block-Busting were just some out of many that were in place to destroy the African American community- but were they created to destroy or to turn Black people into a permanent under-class or both? You could possibly choose to think that certain policies were set in motion to destroy the Black community, but why would that be a good idea if you can create a second-class group?

Although many laws and policies have been put in place throughout American history in order to segregate both races, try to create a first and second-class society using race, and try to excuse such laws and policies it’s not enough to just understand or know about segregation as a means to keep the races separate. Segregation is about keeping the victimized group as permanent under-class rather than what has been deemed as ‘amorphous diversity’ but more so about power itself. Funny thing about power and those who possess it, is that the people of that same group naturally benefit by default of some kind until you finally reach modern-day slavery- where people no matter of racial or ethnic identity are grouped into second-class citizens to make a better world for those in power.

In a society where intricate laws and policies consciously and unconsciously create a person, are made for only the protection and advancement of those who’re in a place of power, or for either deferring or trying to stop advancement altogether it takes someone with a lot of ambition, clarity, and skill to succeed. In a world where just perceptions alone affect a group socially and financially, and the laws and policies are set in place to assist with such perceptions.

Part of keeping power out of Black people’s hands is exploitation. There’s a lot of money to be made by selling a dream. You create a dream and sell it through many different outlets for profit, and as the dream keeps people enslaved it continuously raises the wealth (financially and emotionally) of those who the dream is really benefitting (those selling it to you). Selling a dream isn’t solely just for Black people, but ‘The American Dream’ did a phenomenal job on keeping all people from all backgrounds as slaves. ‘The New Slave’ is what everybody’s new name should be as you continue to be manipulated by just a dream that’s not even naturally yours.

Millions of money made exploiting the dreams of middle-class Black people trapped in the ghettos of America. Black money finding its way to White hands- that money representing a transfer of wealth from Blacks to Whites which brought on the movement ‘support your own’ but the movement goes by different names depending on context.

This transfer of wealth from Black to White hands continued from the early 20th century, through the New Deal which actually aided the process, well into the 1960s. Many African Americans and Blacks alike would disagree that it stopped in the 1960s, and still discuss the act of keeping the wealth in their own communities or supporting their own people to this very day.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, better known as FDR, brought in the New Deal with good intentions to stimulate the economy but the reforms harmed rather than helped the African American community. The flagship reform of the New Deal was the National Industrial Recovery Act, which passed in June 1933, authorized President Roosevelt to issue executive orders which would establish 700 industrial cartels that would restrict output, forced wages, and prices above market levels. The new minimum wage regulations made it illegal for employers to hire people who weren’t worth the minimum because they lacked skills. As a result, over 500, 000 Blacks, particularly Blacks in the South, were estimated to have lost their jobs due to this reform.

Marginal employees, unskilled Black persons, were in desperate need for the economy to expand for an increase in job creation- but instead New Deal policies made it harder for employers to hire people. Many economists have questioned the validity of New Deal policies when the median unemployment rate was at 17 percent, no matter what the merits of such policies might have been. Roosevelt tripled federal taxes from 1933 to 1940, securities laws made it harder for employers to raise capital- with more and more employers becoming discouraged to hire people due to social security excise taxes on payrolls, and along with anti-trust lawsuits that scared some 150 employers and entire industries the number of employees became less and less.

As some New Deal reforms were made to even help the agricultural industry it harmed African Americans in the process, especially those in the Southern regions. The Agricultural Adjustment Act in 1933 was set to help farmers by cutting farm production and forcing up food prices, but actually less production really meant less work for thousands of poor Black sharecroppers. And go figure, Blacks were among the 100 million forced to pay higher food prices because of the reform.

If many Black people across the nation weren’t already financially crippled, then the Wagner Act of 1935 from the New Deal made it even worse for Black Americans. Black people were harmed by this reform because it gave way for labor unions to legally monopolize. The encouragement of unionization gave power to exclude Blacks, since the dominant unions discriminated against Blacks. Of course the Wagner Act was originally made with the intent to prohibit racial discrimination, but it’s highly difficult to police each individual’s motives and acts so it got worse before it got okay. Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, along with Marcus Garvey all came out against what was deemed as compulsory unionism. Unfortunately, the American Federation of Labor unions used their newly found power to exclude Blacks on a massive scale, although it originally started as a fair organization helping and assisting every kind.

The almighty dollar can be traced to every problem; follow the money and you’ll find your story. Well, in this story of the New Deal there were such reforms called spending programs that caused more harm to Blacks than good. The advantageous spending programs were swept away from the poorest people, with millions of Blacks who lived in the South excluded.

If President Roosevelt’s New Deal policies weren’t made with racist intent then it could seem that way since they carried racist consequences.

A lot of time is spent focusing and discussing America’s Black poor, but not enough emphasis put on the group as a whole (including all socio-economic classes). A bigger issue is the huge focus on ‘the ignorant ones’ rather than showcasing the race better or in more realistic ways (this has little to do with those in and out of the ghettos but the people themselves rather). An example of this would be to make the White racial group an example; it’s like always having the ‘Honey Boo Boo’ types to always or mostly be at the forefront when your racial group is being represented.

The Black middle and upper-middle class have historically paid big-time for the inaccurate reporting of the race, and have been classified many times as ‘niggers with ideas’ or ‘the uppity negro’ or whatever rhetoric that means a Black person in America should know their ‘nigger place’ and stay in it. Black people or the group itself have historically been punished for succeeding in America- which was very evident on June 1, 1921 in Greenwood, Oklahoma (a suburb of Tulsa) where one of the biggest ignored attacks on a Black community happened in America. Thousands of White people from that city organized together to come together to burn down a Black community that had been deemed ‘Black Wall Street’ because it was starting too gather too much power. ‘Black Wall Street’ was becoming more and more each day where people from all racial backgrounds went to borrow money, so the power struggle was very evident and signified that Black success wasn’t going to be taken very well. It sent a message that Black ambition will not be tolerated in America, and if you do succeed as a Black person in America then you will become a target.

Homeownership in America is an act of patriotism in the words of William Levitt, so in the words of the Long Island, NY developer who built the prototype for the suburbs that would lure millions of middle-class Americans into the suburbs from the cities after World War II homeownership is a form of citizenship- so if Black people in America have historically had such opposition in becoming home owners (or especially becoming home owners in certain communities) due to policies such as Redlining and Racial Covenants then how can it really be true that Blacks are true citizens of a country that has historically made it nearly impossible for them to own a home?

African Americans are less likely to apply for a mortgage and 2.4 times more likely to be denied than Whites, according to a joint study conducted by the National Urban League and Zillow.

One in four African Americans are denied a conventional loan compared to 1 in 10 Whites, the study found. African Americans also have a lower rate of home ownership than other ethnic groups: 46.5 percent of African Americans are home owners compared to 50.9 percent of Latinos, 60.9 percent of Asians, and 73.9 percent of Whites, the study showed.

African Americans were most affected during the housing crisis, as neighborhoods with high minority populations saw greater depreciation in home values. Since the housing bubble burst, Black neighborhoods have seen home values drop 23.2 percent compared to 13.4 percent for Whites, and 0.6 percent for Asians. While Latinos, however, have lost the most — 32.6 percent, the study showed.