Redress • Segregation • Redlining • Contract Buying • Racially Restrictive Covenants • Urban Renewal • Racial Steering • Blockbusting • Exclusionary Zoning • Reverse Redlining/Subprime Mortgage Lending • Racial Wealth Gap • Foreclosures and Evictions • Lower Socioeconomic Mobility • Compromised Health and Well-Being • Unjust Public Safety • Unequal Schooling • Devaluation of Black Homes • Decline and Disinvestment • Displacement
Definition: Any present action intended to reverse the many, ongoing forms of racial inequality.
Example: Redress can consist of reparations, a term used to describe forms of government action intended to compensate African Americans for slavery and the long history of racial discrimination. It can also consist of atonement, a term used to describe actions taken by a broad range of private or public entities to make amends for instances racial discrimination. Or, finally, it can consist of redistribution, a term used to describe actions that create equality by evening out unequal allocations of wealth, jobs, or other resources. One local example of redress would be that of Bruce Beach in Los Angeles County, where land seized from a Black family by local government in the early 20th century was returned to living descendants in a deliberate effort to redress past harm.
Definition: The process through which the federal government and other actors separated people by race, specifically through housing and other place-based policies, creating inequalities that persist today.
Example: The Federal Housing Administration, created in 1934, immediately began to demand segregated communities in its underwriting manuals for insuring home loans. From 1934 until 1962, according to George Lipsitz’s book The Possessive Investment in Whiteness (2017), over ninety eight percent of all the loans it insured went to white families. The FHA stated in its manual that economic life estimates and location ratings would be negatively impacted by “possible infiltration of inharmonious racial groups.” It offered a solution to this by suggesting that protection against these “adverse influences” could be provided by using racially restrictive covenants to keep neighborhoods free of “inharmonious racial groups.”
Definition: A banking and real estate strategy that discouraged new construction, investment, and mortgage lending in Black neighborhoods, with the goal of ensuring that segregated neighborhoods remained segregated.
Example: The 1939 redlining map for Chicago (officially known as residential security maps) gave an all-Black neighborhood in the South Side the grade of “hazardous” for mortgage lending. To justify its rating, it described the area located between 35th and 67th Streets, west of Cottage Grove Avenue, and east of State Street as having suffered an “infiltration of negroes.” It further warned that “unless various real estate protective associations are strong enough to restrict the colored people, ultimately they will spread over that territory east of Cottage Grove between 39th and 47th.” Contrary to their fears of property suddenly being worth less, appraisers also said that since 1935 rents increased in the area by 30 percent–but only for Black residents.
Definition: A tactic used by predatory realtors and speculators – though in some cases the only viable means Blacks had to purchase homes – a contract sale granted buyers the right to occupy a home provided consistent payments toward the home price (which was often inflated), but only at the completion of paying off that principal would occupants be given the actual deed to their property. This left contract buyers vulnerable to displacement and exploitation, and prevented them from building equity in their homes.
Example: In 1955 a Black couple in Chicago named Albert and Sallie Bolton purchased a home from white real estate agent named Jay Goran for $13,900 using a land contract. Goran had purchased the property the week before for just $4,300. When the Boltons could not keep up with the inflated payments Goran assigned them they were removed from their home and the home was repossessed, with no amount of their equity given back to them in return. Goran had also recently filed repossession claims on twenty other properties he sold to Black families.According to Beryl Satter’s 2009 book Family Properties, roughly 85 percent of homes sold to Black buyers in Chicago at mid-century were bought on contract. A later study estimated that contract buying robbed Black Chicagoans of roughly $3-4 billion dollars during the 1950s and 1960s.
RACIALLY RESTRICTIVE COVENANTS
Definition: A pact through which realtors, developers, and homeowners associations inserted clauses into the deeds of neighborhoods or subdivisions that prohibited the renting or selling of housing to certain races and ethnicities. Covenants helped create and maintain all-white communities across the country.
Example: Here is the language from a racially restrictive covenant recorded in George T Hansen subdivision in South Milwaukee Dec 13, 1937, and set to expire January 1, 2024. It speaks for itself: “At no time shall any such lot or any building thereon be purchased, owned, leased, occupied or used by any person other than Citizens of the United States of America, of the White Race. This provision shall not apply to domestic servants which may be employed by the owner or occupant of any such lot or building thereon.”
Definition: A government initiative to clear houses and buildings for new infrastructure and development–which oftentimes meant the destruction and removal of Black, Hispanic, and sometimes integrated neighborhoods.
Example: The Brooklyn urban renewal project in Charlotte, NC, displaced 1,009 families in the city from 1961 through 1974 and destroyed the city’s main Black commerce district downtown. All of the families displaced by these four projects were Black.
Definition: When realtors intentionally guide homebuyers and renters to segregated neighborhoods.
Example: In 2000, HUD and the Urban Institute conducted the national Housing Discrimination Study to study the extent to which realtors were guiding minority homebuyers away from homes in integrated or white neighborhoods by offering homes in minority neighborhoods. Observing 20 metropolitan areas across the country, they found that the practice of steering was occurring in all of the 20 areas studied. The results showed that in at least 12 to 15% of cases, real estate agents provided gratuitous commentary that gave more information to white homebuyers and encouraged them to choose homes in white areas with fewer poor households. On the other hand, realtors gave less information to Black homebuyers and mostly showed them homes in Black parts of town.
Definition: When speculators use the threat or action of moving Black residents into an all- or mostly-white neighborhood to initiate panic, lower home values, and then resell those homes at inflated costs to Black buyers.
Example: In 1954 in East Palo Alto, CA one Black family purchased a home in a whites-only area. Almost immediately, Floyd Lowe of the California Real Estate Association set up an office with other real estate agents to panic other white families in the area into listing their homes for sale. They warned white families that a “Negro invasion” was underway and would collapse housing values. Whites began to sell their homes at a discounted price to these real estate agents and speculators. As whites began selling their homes, the agents posted advertisements seeking “Colored Buyers!” in San Francisco newspapers, and charged inflated prices to Black buyers for the homes. Within a three-month period, one agent sold sixty formerly white-owned properties to Blacks. Sometimes these home prices were so over-inflated that homes purchased by Black buyers through blockbusting could be appraised at far lower values even decades later.
Definition: Zoning policies which lead to the exclusion of people of color and low-income people from mostly white and well-off neighborhoods.
Example: Mid-Atlantic states along the border of the South began to adopt zoning ordinances that enforced residential segregation as a pushback to the growing numbers of Blacks fleeing the South during the early years of the Great Migration at the start of the 20th century. These ordinances were ruled unconstitutional in the 1917 Buchanan v. Warley U.S. Supreme Court case, but even after racially explicit zoning was deemed illegal communities found creative zoning workarounds with similar results. In Berkeley, California, for example, real estate developers at the start of the 20th century embraced single-family zoning laws to make sure local costs of housing were so high in their neighborhoods that people of color could not possibly afford to move in.
REVERSE REDLINING/SUBPRIME MORTGAGE LENDING:
Definition: When lenders intentionally give loans with higher fees and interest rates to Black and Latinx borrowers.
Example: Many large banks denied conventional loans to qualified Black and Hispanic borrowers and disproportionately marketed exploitative loans to these borrowers leading up to the housing bubble that preceded the Great Recession. According to a lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice, Bank of America’s Countrywide subsidiary charged over 200,000 Black and Hispanic/Latino homeowners higher interest rates and fees than white borrowers with similar credit worthiness. Countrywide was also accused of refusing to offer these homeowners conventional mortgages for which they were qualified and which they would have been offered had they been white. Countrywide settled the lawsuit by paying a record $335 million settlement in 2011. Similarly Wells Fargo was accused of similar practices and paid a settlement of $175 million in 2012.
RACIAL WEALTH GAP:
Definition: The lasting impacts of segregation have created a wealth gap where the median white household possesses multiple times the amount of wealth held by the median Black household.
Example: According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the racial wealth gap between white and Black households in the U.S. as of 2019 was eight-to-one. The median white family held about $184,000 in household wealth, while the median Black family held about $23,000. Racial discrepancies in home values and homeownership rates help fuel this difference. In Birmingham, Alabama, for instance, despite Black residents making up 63.6% of the city’s households they own only 36.3% of the city’s housing wealth according to the Urban Institute. This is due in part to a homeownership rate 21.4 percentage points lower than whites (42.1 percent compared to 63.5 percent) and average home values worth less than half the average of white homes.
FORECLOSURES AND EVICTIONS:
Definition: Forcible removals of families from their homes.
Example: In a typical year in the U.S., landlords file a total of 3.7 million eviction cases. Every year one in twenty-five renters are threatened with eviction, one in forty renters are evicted, and a highly disproportionate amount of people in both these groups are Black. Black homeowners do not escape removal from homes either. Black homes are disproportionately foreclosed upon compared to white homes due to a number of factors that include reverse redlining, to the point where homes in majority-Black neighborhoods lag in property value appreciation due to the amount of surrounding foreclosures.
LOWER SOCIOECONOMIC MOBILITY:
Definition: Due to the legacy of segregation and its jarring impacts, it becomes harder for individuals born into segregated communities to achieve a better life or mobility than their parents, especially when the neighborhood they grew up in is majority Black.
Example: According to the Opportunity Atlas, a Black child in the majority-Black Sunnyside neighborhood of Houston Texas, can expect to have a household income of $21,000 at age 35 compared to a current neighborhood median household income of $24,000. They also have a 1-in-20 chance that they have an incarcerated friend, family member, or neighbor, and a 27 percent chance they will never move out of the same neighborhood in their lifetime. By comparison, in a majority-white Census tract located in the West University Place area of Houston, a white child might expect to earn $85,000 in household income by age 35, has a less than 1 percent chance of knowing an incarcerated person, and is less than 10 percent likely to stay in the same neighborhood for life.
COMPROMISED HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
Definition: The neglect and economic deprivation that came with segregation has led to negative health impacts for segregated residents.
Example: In the historically Black, East End neighborhood in Richmond, Virginia, the life expectancy of a resident is 21 years lower than in a majority-white, West End neighborhood. This is related to significantly higher rates of pulmonary disease, diabetes, obesity, and higher blood pressure in the East End, all of which are correlated with effects of segregation that include restricted healthy food access and greater exposure to air pollution.
UNJUST PUBLIC SAFETY:
Definition: Black neighborhoods are both over-policed and under-served in terms of public safety, with both higher rates of exposure to crime and higher rates of incarceration as a result.
Example: A 2014-2018 analysis of formerly redlined tracts of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, found that these tracts had 13 percent higher homicide rates than the city average, and a shooting rate 28 percent higher than the city as a whole. Nation-wide, Black Americans are five times as likely to be incarcerated as white Americans, and higher levels of segregation correspond to higher levels of likelihood that Black men will have fatal encounters with police.
Definition: Schools serving Black neighborhoods are typically segregated, overburdened, and, in some cases, under-resourced, leading to less quality educational opportunities for most Black students.
Example: Following the landmark Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education case decided in 1971, Charlotte, North Carolina, had a completely integrated school system. It achieved this through a system of school assignment that over-rode neighborhood school assignments in favor of racial parity. According to many studies, this system worked to the benefit of all students’ achievement regardless of race. Following a 1990s court case in which a judge ruled that this system of school assignment could no longer be used, Charlotte schools became more segregated than before the original court decision. Students’ likelihood of positive life outcomes, a probability heavily affected by one’s quality of education, then diverged by race along with the new school assignments.
DEVALUATION OF BLACK HOMES:
Definition: Realtors and appraisers consistently value similar homes in Black neighborhoods less than similar homes in white neighborhoods.
Example: Homes located in majority-Black neighborhoods across the U.S. are valued at $48,000 less than homes located in majority-white neighborhoods according to the Brookings Institution. In some areas like Chicago these differences can be even more drastic. According to one group of researchers, the average home located in a white neighborhood in Chicago in 2015 was valued at a level $324,000 higher than an average home located in majority-Black and Latinx neighborhoods.
DECLINE AND DISINVESTMENT:
Definition: The reduction or stagnation of population levels and investment flows in Black neighborhoods.
Example: According to the Urban Institute, neighborhoods that are more than 85 percent Black in Baltimore receive $8,160 in public and private investment per household per year. This can be compared to a rate of $26,533 in neighborhoods that are less than 50 percent Black in Baltimore. In cities like Baltimore such as Memphis, this comparative lack of investment corresponds with (and contributes to) to lower levels of new commercial development, less new home construction, lower rates of population growth, less home value appreciation, and a lack of new business investment.
Definition: When people and businesses are involuntarily moved, or places involuntarily altered, as a neighborhood and the city where that neighborhood is located changes.
Example: Displacement can be physical–like with slum clearance, urban renewal, or evictions. Displacement can also be economic, like when Black businesses close in neighborhoods where their market has disappeared or rents have skyrocketed, or when a long-time homeowner can no longer afford to pay their property taxes in hot market neighborhoods such as those surrounding the BeltLine in Atlanta. Finally, displacement can be cultural. For instance, in New York City, parents can feel like their children’s needs are no longer represented by neighborhood schools when a wealthier influx of residents sways how that school’s resources get distributed.