White affirmative action/reported in san franciso chronicllegreenspun.com : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread
I received a copy of this article today and I wanted to share it with the board. (It is written by a white reporter and he comments on the inequities that are heaped upon blacks)
Sunday, June 29, 2003 (SF Chronicle)
REAL LIFE/Affirmative Action for Whites/The houses that racism built Larry Adelman
Thirteen years ago, my parents sold the house I grew up in. It was one of those suburban tract homes that sprouted across the nation after World War II. Our home was pleasant if undistinguished. It wasn't one of Malvina Reynolds' "little boxes made of ticky tacky" -- based on a drive the singer took past Daly City in the '50s. It was a ranch house on a curving, leafy street in Merrick, Long Island, 25 miles east of Manhattan, about five miles from its more famous suburban neighbor, Levittown.
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.
On Monday, the Supreme Court finally issued its ruling on whether the University of Michigan should jettison its affirmative action program. The court upheld the law school program that sought a "critical mass" of minorities but struck down a "point system" used to increase affirmative action for undergraduates. While the decisions didn't fully satisfy advocates on either side, on balance they were less "anti-affirmative action" than feared. I wonder if some court members had had experiences like mine.
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.
Cornelius had no such help. As American manufacturing declined, Chester became increasingly black and populated by people on fixed incomes, who faced higher taxes to maintain public services and schools. Cornelius' parents' expenses climbed as their city deteriorated. Cornelius attended college on scholarship, but worked his way through school. Today, rather than look to his mother for financial help, Cornelius helps support her.
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.
Barred from purchasing a home in the new suburbs, Cornelius' parents had to buy in one of the few communities where black people could live.
Today, according to New York University economist Edward Wolff, the typical white family has eight times the net worth of the typical black family. Even when they make the same income, white families have over twice the wealth -- much of that gap due to home equity and family inheritance.
Many whites who grew up middle class in the suburbs like to think we got where we are today on merit -- hard work, intelligence, pluck and maybe a little luck. We wonder why non-white parents didn't just work hard, buy a home and pass on the appreciated value like our parents did. We tend to be blind to how the playing field has been -- and continues to be -- tilted to our advantage.
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 sit on my back deck, enjoying the blooms of the wisteria and reading an e- mail from my daughter about her post-college plans. My daughter certainly had nothing to do with slavery or Jim Crow. But the past still helps shape her future thanks to the many advantages my parents, me, and now she, have accrued thanks to generations of racial preferences -- for white people.
Larry Adelman is executive producer of "Race -- The Power of an Illusion," a three part series broadcast by PBS and available from California Newsreel at www.newsreel.org. A version of this piece appeared in California Lawyer. ----------------------------------------------------------------
-- Anonymous, July 15, 2003
This is the sort of story that leads black folk into looking for something for nothing. The errors are: VA & FHA Mortgages are now and always have been available to blacks. In about 1943, my uncle (third grade education) and his wife (high school) purchased a home from the Government (a house [#1] vacated when the US Citizens of Japanese ancestry was incarcerated during WWII) for $6K @3%, etc. They paid for it driving buses for LATL. It had a large lot so they built a "rent house" [#2] in back. In 1955, they bought another home [#3] in South Los Angeles ($14.5K using 3% FHA Mortgage). The rent from #1 and #2 plus both working at LATL paid off #3 in about 5 years. Then his wife retired and they lived on rent from #1, #2, and LATL salary. They eventually sold #1 and #2 for approximately $300K. Prudent investment of this sum allowed them to accumulate more than $1M. #3 is currently valued at approximately $400K. This is a true story. It does not stand alone. During the 1940 to 1950s, many Texas blacks including Mayor Tom Bradley migrated from Texas to California and had success in the same way; hard work, frugal living, wise investment, taking advantage of opportunity. This was not without difficulty including racism. [One story, true, we like to tell is how my uncle got around the requirement for a high school diploma. He took my aunt's diploma and with a cooperative black publisher copied (photostat in those days.) it with his name pasted over hers. Instant graduation.] During this period, they "adopted" (he called it liberated) many sons and daughters from among relatives in Texas and gave them a start in California. Most of these don't need to inherit anything, they are exceedingly successful in their own right. Bottom line: Hard work + Faith in God can lead to a successful life by any measure.
This story continues and some of you may have read my story on Dr. Snydor's email community. Chech out the history fo many of the prominent black folk in California and see how many of them have roots in Texas and the South having "Bootstrapped" themselves up from slavery by depending on each other and God.
Affirmative Action is discrimination on the basis of race is wrong even when it is used to try to right a wrong.
-- Anonymous, July 15, 2003
The insert shown below was taken from the PBS Website titled "Race: The Power of Illusion." This is just a small part. Read and do not be deceived.
"The Advantages Grow, Generation to Generation
Less known are more recent government racial preferences, first enacted during the New Deal, that directed wealth to white families and continue to shape life opportunities and chances today.
The landmark Social Security Act of 1935 provided a safety net for millions of workers, guaranteeing them an income after retirement. But the act specifically excluded two occupations: agricultural workers and domestic servants, who were predominately African American, Mexican, and Asian. As low-income workers, they also had the least opportunity to save for their retirement. They couldn't pass wealth on to their children. Just the opposite. Their children had to support them.
Like Social Security, the 1935 Wagner Act helped establish an important new right for white people. By granting unions the power of collective bargaining, it helped millions of white workers gain entry into the middle class over the next 30 years. But the Wagner Act permitted unions to exclude non-whites and deny them access to better paid jobs and union protections and benefits such as health care, job security, and pensions. Many craft unions remained nearly all-white well into the 1970s. In 1972, for example, every single one of the 3,000 members of Los Angeles Steam Fitters Local #250 was still white.
But it was another racialized New Deal program, the Federal Housing Administration, that helped generate much of the wealth that so many white families enjoy today. These revolutionary programs made it possible for millions of average white Americans - but not others - to own a home for the first time. The government set up a national neighborhood appraisal system, explicitly tying mortgage eligibility to race. Integrated communities were ipso facto deemed a financial risk and made ineligible for home loans, a policy known today as "redlining." Between 1934 and 1962, the federal government backed $120 billion of home loans. More than 98% 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.
These government programs made possible the new segregated white suburbs that sprang up around the country after World War II. Government subsidies for municipal services helped develop and enhance these suburbs further, in turn fueling commercial investments. Freeways tied the new suburbs to central business districts, but they often cut through and destroyed the vitality of non-white neighborhoods in the central city.
Today, Black and Latino mortgage applicants are still 60% more likely than whites to be turned down for a loan, even after controlling for employment, financial, and neighborhood factors. According to the Census, whites are more likely to be segregated than any other group. As recently as 1993, 86% of suburban whites still lived in neighborhoods with a black population of less than 1%.
Reaping the Rewards of Racial Preference
One result of the generations of preferential treatment for whites is that a typical white family today has on average eight times the assets, or net worth, of a typical African American family, according to New York University economist Edward Wolff. Even when families of the same income are compared, white families have more than twice the wealth of Black families. Much of that wealth difference can be attributed to the value of one's home, and how much one inherited from parents.
But a family's net worth is not simply the finish line, it's also the starting point for the next generation. Those with wealth pass their assets on to their children - by financing a college education, lending a hand during hard times, or assisting with the down payment for a home. Some economists estimate that up to 80 percent of lifetime wealth accumulation depends on these intergenerational transfers. White advantage is passed down, from parent to child to grand-child. As a result, the racial wealth gap - and the head start enjoyed by whites - appears to have grown since the civil rights days.
In 1865, just after Emancipation, it is not surprising that African Americans owned only 0.5 percent of the total worth of the United States. But by 1990, a full 135 years after the abolition of slavery, Black Americans still possessed only a meager 1 percent of national wealth. As legal scholar john powell (sic) says in the documentary series Race - The Power of an Illusion, "The slick thing about whiteness is that whites are getting the spoils of a racist system even if they are not personally racist."
But rather than recognize how "racial preferences" have tilted the playing field and given us a head start in life, many whites continue to believe that race does not affect our lives. Instead, we chastise others for not achieving what we have; we even invert the situation and accuse non-whites of using "the race card" to advance themselves. "
-- Anonymous, July 16, 2003
I remember the "No Irish Allowed" signs a history teacher of mine kept at my NYC public high school. Recently at a Juneteenth rememberance meeting I was reminded not only Africans were enslaved in the USA as a representative from Texas spoke of her enslaved Irish family as well. I remember my Irish colleague who assist me as we "wee in the milk of the oligarchy" defending workers rights. Finally I can never forget my wife's most frightening racist incident was being called a nigger to her face by obviously poor Irish citizens on a trip to Boston; she was simply there to participate in a track meet.
Despite a shared history of sufferings and dehumanization Irish Americans and countless other European Americans had one thing that allowed them to "mainstream" into OUR America, White Skin Privelege. While it brings me grest joy to see a few honest and good "White" people exposing the truths of these priveleges, I know a nation of millions will continue to deny their existence and much worse continue attempts to destroy anyone, White, Black or what have you that seeks redress for this wrong. To redress this wrong is to expose a greater sickness... The lie of White Supremacy and fallacy of White World Domination.
No matter how many GOOD white people wax philosophical about the issue, not enough are willing to give up their Institutionalized priveliges and taking them would lead to war. Peace loving people continue to suffer...
-- Anonymous, July 24, 2003