URL Media’s The Intersection
Saturday, May 20, 2023
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This is URL Media’s Saturday newsletter where we lift the veil and analyze the most pressing issues facing our communities.

Credit: Black Voice News

Where your race determines where you live

Redlining is the act of denying, or severely limiting, financial opportunities such as purchasing a home to specific groups of people or communities based on their race or ethnicity. Beginning during the Great Depression, and sanctioned by the federal government, the discriminatory practice led to segregation, a lack of generational wealth in marginalized communities, and poverty-stricken neighborhoods.

It also led to white flight.

“Realtors came in, scared the white people who lived there and then lured Black people into moving and they didn’t know they were part of a blockbusting campaign,” the late Lois Carson, a San Bernardino resident who lived on 16th street and organized against blockbusting, recalled.

In the Inland Empire region of Southern California, Black residents experienced the greatest impact, URL Media partner Black Voice News reports. The publication also highlights redlining's impact on other communities of color.

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“Gentlemen’s agreements, where realtors, homeowners, or loan officers would agree to not sell or provide loans to nonwhites, were also made to ensure that areas would remain exclusively white,” Blaire Langley wrote for Black Voice News. “So strong were these efforts, that there are accounts of white homeowners going to the city council to stop Latino homeowners from moving to all-white areas.”

Despite the area’s history of being home to Indigenous peoples and Latine immigrants who participated in the region’s rich agricultural industry in the early 20th century, redlining meant that 
there were fewer areas for communities of color to settle in the Inland Empire.

And while the Civil Rights Act of 1968 banned housing discrimination, that doesn’t mean it stopped happening, as Black Voice News notes.

“The impact of redlining left unhealed economic, health, safety, and educational bruises on communities nationwide that can still be seen today.”

As URL Media partner Prism reports, the climate crisis is disproportionately impacting marginalized communities, but why is that? One reason is that redlining segregated Black and white homeowners and created a blueprint for future investment that saw white neighborhoods flourish as Black neighborhoods deteriorated under the weight of pollution, blight and stagnant home values.

Prism also highlights the lasting impact of redlining on education and the generation of children in Boston who were forced to leave their communities in search of better educational opportunities. Instead of investing in the schools located within Black communities, the city of Boston instead decided to bus Black students to white schools, many of which were no better than the schools the students were leaving behind.

“If there had been more localized remedies that made physical repairs to the deteriorated school buildings in the Black community, equalized school budgets, or hired more teachers, that could have done more than primarily busing the kids,” Lewis Finfer, a community organizer and former director of the Massachusetts Communities Action Network, told Prism.

It’s clear that while redlining and racial-restrictive covenants have been illegal in the United States since the Civil Rights Act of 1968 — which included the Fair Housing Act — the impacts are still being felt. So what can we do to address the harm that’s already been done?

Members of the Arlington Community Church, United Church of Christ (UCC), just north of Berkeley, have an idea.

The church has raised more than $300,000 for its Black Wealth Builders Fund, a loan program designed to bolster Black homeownership in communities in California’s East Bay, where Berkeley is situated.

“I mean, we’re just a bunch of white people trying to do something,” Susan Russell, a church member, told Prism. “I feel like what everybody needs to understand is, this is not charity. This is trying to make up for systemic racism for hundreds of years.”

With the weekend well underway, I hope you’ll take some time to learn more about the discriminatory practices that continue to shape your community and try to find ways to address some of those harms. I know I will. —Alicia Ramirez

Uplift. Respect. Love.

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