NPR: A ‘Forgotten History’ Of How The U.S. Government Segregated America

African-American families that were prohibited from buying homes in the suburbs in the 1940s and ’50s and even into the ’60s, by the Federal Housing Administration, gained none of the equity appreciation that whites gained. So … the Daly City development south of San Francisco or Levittown or any of the others in between across the country, those homes in the late 1940s and 1950s sold for about twice national median income. They were affordable to working-class families with an FHA or VA mortgage. African-Americans were equally able to afford those homes as whites but were prohibited from buying them. Today those homes sell for $300,000 [or] $400,000 at the minimum, six, eight times national median income. …

So in 1968 we passed the Fair Housing Act that said, in effect, “OK, African-Americans, you’re now free to buy homes in Daly City or Levittown” … but it’s an empty promise because those homes are no longer affordable to the families that could’ve afforded them when whites were buying into those suburbs and gaining the equity and the wealth that followed from that.

The white families sent their children to college with their home equities; they were able to take care of their parents in old age and not depend on their children. They’re able to bequeath wealth to their children. None of those advantages accrued to African-Americans, who for the most part were prohibited from buying homes in those suburbs.

From: A ‘Forgotten History’ Of How The U.S. Government Segregated America : NPR

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12 thoughts on “NPR: A ‘Forgotten History’ Of How The U.S. Government Segregated America

  1. I heard this a few days ago. Then I watched “Rat Film” debut in Baltimore. The overlays of “problem areas”, crime, income, education, race, was all quite interesting. Even more was it was our gov’t the was driving the process of discrimination, redlining, and “keeping the races separate”.

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  2. As told from the view of the vanilla cupcakes on the tray.

    Maybe if history really did begin with WW II, this might make a little sense.
    At least, a little.

    Nah.
    Couldn’t be.

    It’s sort of like the claim that disco was the music of social liberation, while ignoring the Average White Band and all of Scotland’s struggles, the disappointment of James I to that people, etc.
    Not to mention Jimmy Castor, Isaac Hayes, etc.

    But a bit of wishful thinking where the world all makes sense seems like a pleasant distraction for a short while.
    Just as long as people don’t take that sort of thing too seriously.

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  3. Placing the entire blame for segregation in America on the fed gov seems like a bit much. This seems to assume that America wasn’t segregated before that. It’s not like there was a separate Polish, German or Italian neighborhood in every city before this.

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    • Entire blame? No.

      But the subsidizing building loans with the mandatory “no selling to blacks” covenants, the HOA covenants on existing housing stock, that was all federal regulation/process. How much more / less segregation would have occurred without these restrictions, and allowing for people’s natural racism, may have changed things differently, we’ll never know.

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        • The title of the book doesn’t matter to me. What does is who’s responsible, and it’s pretty clear that our own gov’t had a hand in certain things.

          That’s important to remember when “we” demand that gov’t do things. There’s always a down side to demanding gov’t do something…

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  4. African-American families that were prohibited from buying homes in the suburbs in the 1940s and ’50s and even into the ’60s, by the Federal Housing Administration, gained none of the equity appreciation that whites gained…

    Translation: They largely missed the glory days of labor and the housing boom and so forth.

    The timing of that is unfortunate. Cosmic justice would be if they’d missed a 2006 style housing meltdown instead.

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    • They largely missed the glory days of labor and the housing boom and so forth.

      Replaced “largely missed” with “were systematically excluded for the purpose of maintaining social and economic privileges for whites” and you’ll start to scratch the surface of the history.

      We’re not talking about historical accidents here. This was deliberate.

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      • The exclusion was certainly deliberate (and malevolent). That it was a once-a-century golden period of time is what makes the timing unfortunate.

        Ideally it would have been something more like Poland, which avoided the banking crisis 10 years ago because it’s banks weren’t sophisticated enough to blow themselves up.

        In any case, yes, they weren’t let into the system until the 70’s or so.

        After that, I’m not sure what lessons we’re supposed to draw from this sort of article. That the things that we’ve made illegal (redlining, segregation, etc) should be illegal? That policy then was evil? If their point is that policies very long gone are the proximate cause of the current situation then then I disagree.

        Imho current dysfunctional policy has FAR more impact on the current situation than evil policy discarded 40+ years ago. The war on drugs fuels negative outcomes today. Some of our social programs enable or encourage dysfunctional behavior.

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  5. Aaaaand…. I’m guessing no mention of 2006? No mention of the egregious differential between blacks and whites in loan issuance? No mention of the class actions by the states on behalf of blacks?

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