Friday, October 22, 2004

  Rolling with the Brotherhood

Cobb has an excellent post After The Bubble that understands the race for president has a lot of the same mania that happened during the internet bubble.

La Shawn is taking a break from the short term thinking of daily blogging to think more holistically ( I bet she hates that word).

Juliette Ochieng discusses one of the saddest things about the campaign which is Teresa Heinz Kerry's lost love. To quote
"Mrs. Bush has what I suspect that Mrs. Kerry once had, but has no more. Mrs. Kerry once said this about her late husband:

I'd rather have my husband alive than that money."

Shay Riley discuses Fear of Black man with a Gun a story about man sentenced to 47 years for defending himself against crack dealers.

And Avery gets to the core with "Rights vs. Responsibilities"

Thursday, October 21, 2004

  Help the World while sitting at your computer

By visting these sites the sponsers donate money to these causes.

The Hunger Site

The Breast Cancer Site

The Child Health Site

The Rainforest Site

The Animal Rescue Site

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

  Understanding Institutional Racism
After turning 65, my father wasted no time retiring. He'd purchased our house back in 1952 for $20,000 thanks to a 3 percent mortgage made possible by the Veterans Administration. Now he was considering an offer of $300,000. With the money they'd get a place in the Berkshires and winter in Florida.

Ten years later, my colleague, Cornelius, sold the house he grew up in. Cornelius' folks had also purchased a place in the early '50s in Chester, just outside Philadelphia. A few years ago, after Cornelius' father died, his mother wanted to move back to Virginia. Cornelius sold the house in 2000; he received all of $29,500.

That $270,500 gap reveals a microcosm of race in America. My family is white and Cornelius' is black.


Cornelius and I have worked together for 20 years, always making an identical salary, yet my net worth is several times his.

My two brothers and I enjoyed good schools, parks and libraries because of rising property values. My parents' growing home equity not only provided for retirement but sent us to private colleges -- and even helped with the down- payments on our own homes. Today, thanks to them, my house is paid off and my 21-year-old daughter is about to graduate college with a nest egg of her own. When my parents pass away, we stand to inherit a tidy sum.


What's this got to with race? It goes back to the postwar suburbs and the government policies and subsidies that made them possible -- and guaranteed they'd be segregated.

A set of New Deal programs led by the Federal Housing Administration allowed millions of average white Americans to own a home for the first time. Down payment requirements were reduced from up to 50 percent to 10 or 20 percent and the time to pay off the remaining mortgage was extended from five years to 30 years.

Federal investigators evaluated 239 regions; communities with a mere one or two black families were deemed ipso facto financial risks ineligible for low cost home loans. Government appraisal maps colored those communities red -- hence the term "redlining."

Between 1934 and 1962, the federal government backed $120 billion of home loans; more than 98 percent went to whites. Of the 350,000 new homes built with federal support in Northern California between 1946 and 1960, fewer than 100 went to African Americans.


Racism doesn't just come dressed in white sheets or voiced by skinheads, but lies in institutions that, like the FHA, have quietly and often invisibly channeled America's wealth, power, and status disproportionately to white people, giving us a head start in life. As Ohio State University law professor John A. Powell observes: "The slick thing about whiteness is that whites are getting the spoils of a racist system without themselves being personally racist."

I started to write an essay on this issue myself I started by googling Levittown and racism, and I found that someone has already written about it. Oh yea and this is just one example. We can also look at disproportionate penalties in the criminal justice system, which would mean more black fathers than white fathers in jail for longer time. We could talk about racist immigration policy that was designed to increase the numbers of whites and decrease the numbers of blacks over the last 100 years thus decreasing our voting power. We could also talk about using white people for drug testing so drugs are more effective for whites then blacks so they can live longer. This is what is meant by institutional racism I hope its clear for my white readers.

In the end only reparations will balance the scales. But when these reparations come they have to be in the right form, some have imagined affirmative action being a form or reparations, it isn't. In time we will have reparations for black Americans, but it important that when the time comes they come in the right form, that gives wealth to individual families for what they have lost by being black, and not some socialist trap like public housing that will make things worse.

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