How Redlining Shaped Black America As We Know It  | Unpack That

How Redlining Shaped Black America As We Know It | Unpack That

– Are you looking for a new neighborhood to live in? Then come on down to Redlining Realty. Sanctioned by the U.S. government. (bell chime) There's depressed infrastructure, underfunded schools, no white people! They're all in the suburbs. Heck, we'll even throw in free shoes! Now doesn't that sound nice? Call Redlining Realty today, and we'll get you a house built on the most American foundation of all, racism. Today's baggage, redlining. Before we get into this BS policy called redlining that created housing segregation and pretty much jacked up the American dream for black folks, let's take it back to the 1930s.

America is in the thick of the Great Depression, and y'all, it was bad. Around one fifth of the country was unemployed, and nearly everyone was dirt poor. Along comes FDR with his New Deal, dude was trying to revitalize the American economy which created what we now call the middle-class. But not so fast- FDR's New Deal would cement racial inequality in America for generations to come, and birth two programs that enforced housing segregation. The Public Works Administration and the Home Owner's Loan Corporation, known today as the Federal Housing Administration. The PWA created affordable housing and surprise, surprise the agency created separate public housing for black and white folks, greatly segregating cities. Now let's talk about the Federal Housing Administration. The FHA created low interest mortgages to build homes across the country. This agency actually built the suburbs as we know it. They basically said, "Hey banks, if someone applies for a mortgage, go ahead, build them a house, even if they don't pay it back, we'll still guarantee a loan.

Unless they're black." The FHA's manual literally prohibited the occupancy of properties except by the race for which they are intended. But before we go any further, let me call in a friend to break down the legacy of redlining. The world renowned, wypipologist, from The Root, Michael Harriot. – What's up? – He's a nerd IRL. He's earned a masters degree in macroeconomics, and even taught "Race as an Economic Construct" to some college kids. What's good? – Felice, what's going on? Good to see you and these unpack that streets. – How are these racist-ass-racist government policies tie into what we now call redlining? – The term came about because the federal government, Uncle Sam 'nem, created color-coded maps that told banks where they could give out housing loans. The green sections, were a go, whereas the red sections, typically where black people lived, were deemed too risky.

Even well off black neighborhoods like Sugar Hill in Harlem, where black people like Zora Neale Hurston and Duke Ellington lived, were off limits to banks. Aside from financial barriers, there were actual physical barriers to prevent black people from living in white neighborhoods. In the early 1940s there was a six foot high wall in Detroit, because, redlining, and it's still there today. The Fair Housing Act put an end to redlining in 1968, but we know it ain't going down like that.

Banks across the country have been caught using redlining maps as recently as 2015. And get this, most redlined areas are still low income, black and brown neighborhoods. – So, FDR's New Deal pretty much screwed over generations of black folks to come? How else has redlining impacted black folks? – There's plenty, but 3 really stick out: Wealth, education and criminal justice. First, let's talk about wealth. For y'all who don't know, home ownership is the primary driver of wealth, and who has a harder time getting homes? – Black people? – Bingo. Even when home ownership is an option, homes in black neighborhoods are on average, valued around 25% lower than homes in white neighborhoods. This is the case across the board, even if the homes and neighborhoods are similar.

– So off the bat, homes in black neighborhoods are less valuable? – Yup, and the plot thickens. People in redlined neighborhoods, pay higher insurance premiums, they also pay higher interest rates, and are denied mortgages more often. – Hold up, we get a lot of our school funding through local property taxes. I bet that redlining impacts education too. How does that all work? – Let me ask the genius who can answer that question. – Yes Michael, I am a genius. – No, not you. I mean Nikole Hannah-Jones. She's the recipient of the MacArthur Genius Grant, and knows education like the back of her hand. See, I can get her up on our special genius hotline. Funny how I don't see your name on the list. (phone rings) Nikole, tell our girl how redlining has impacted education.


– We get most of our school funding through local property tax. That meant that black cities cannot produce as much money as white suburbs which can tax either very low rate on high property tax. And so you see vast disparities between how suburban schools that serve lots of white kids are funded, and urban schools that serve lots of black and Latino kids are funded. And that all goes back to the legacy of redlining. – Wow, did the Fair Housing Act help at all? – Once, redlining and discrimination and lending and housing became illegal in 1968, we didn't rejigger all of the property values that had been directly related to redlining which put a premium on white communities and put a much lower property value rate on black communities, it's not like we started from scratch and equalized all of these property values, we just continued to watch white communities accumulate more and more wealth, and black communities be deprived. And of course, that's gonna impact how schools can be funded. – Are there any places where we can really see the effects of redlining on education? – One place where you can really see this play out, probably in the most oppressive way would be the city of Detroit.

Home to the most unequal school funding border in the country, and that's the border between Grosse Pointe which is very, very wealthy and almost entirely white, which borders right on Detroit. The schools in Detroit are falling apart, and the schools in Grosse Pointe, one of them has marble floors. – Thanks Nikole. – That was a lot. – The cycle doesn't end there. Redlining, education and criminal justice are all related. Let me take you on a trip to one of my favorite cities.

Baltimore. Here is the original 1937 redlining map of Baltimore. Even though blacks and whites used illegal drugs at about the same rates, black people are three times more likely to be arrested. And where do you think they go to fight this war on drugs? – I've seen "The Wire," they go to the hood. – See the red areas on the map? That's the forbidden neighborhoods, remember? Now let's look at this data of marijuana arrests between Jan. 2013 and Oct. 2014. Here are the heroin arrests, and the crack arrests- drugs arrests and poverty are almost exclusively contained in the redlined areas. Isn't that remarkable? – You pronounced racist wrong. – And getting out of jail ain't any easier.

In Maryland, 13 of the 15 zip codes with the highest bails are in Baltimore's redlined neighborhoods. – Damn. – Yeah, so, basically redlining created poor neighborhoods, which led to underfunded schools, more poverty and more black people in prison. – Let me guess, and the cycle continues? – Like a dog chasing its tail. – So, the hood ain't the 'hood because black people made it the 'hood, rather it was intentionally created by the government to oppress black people through a federal policy that would adversely impact them for generations to come. – Precisely. And there's more but that's all we have time for in this here video. Almost every quantifiable indicator of white supremacy all lead back to the government sanctioned policy of redlining. – Michael, you just ruined my whole day. This is the last time I invite you to this show.

Bye, Michael. (laughs) Maybe we could just do – We shouldn't even look at each other when we do it we should just go – Okay, we could do that one.

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