Does Housing Discrimination Past Affect the Present?
With a housing shortage affecting all Americans, and millions finding it hard to pay their mortgages and rent, it is clear that the country is suffering. Though while you might think that people would join together to do something collectively for all Americans, there are still those out there who use this opportunity to speak only on behalf of themselves while throwing everyone else under the bus. There seems to be a coordinated effort this week to push the notion that America is actively keeping black Americans out of homes. The line is that a racist country is refusing to allow blacks to become homeowners, and that the scars of oppression still linger today and make it harder for black Americans to receive and pay mortgages.
This is nothing new. Every few months the media makes sure to strike these same chords. It’s as if Asians, Latinos, Native Americans and whites are all doing perfectly well in the economy and only black families are struggling to find houses. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Americans are suffering across all demographics, and this constant push to divide those suffering by racial status is incredibly harmful to the cohesion the poorer people in this nation should have in an effort to effect positive change.
This line is trotted out so often by so many sources that most people believe it has to be true, or else people wouldn’t bring it up so much. What do the facts say about the situation of some black Americans unable to find housing?
The Myth Vs. the Reality
It is a sociological mainstay in American society. America once had slavery. America once had Jim Crow segregation laws. Therefore, America is still bad. There are countless universities and public schools, media personalities, activists and politicians who beat this drum on a daily basis. They claim America is a white supremacist society that still actively discriminates against minorities. It’s an emotional appeal. There is so much emotion involved with this topic, in fact, that anyone attempting to speak against it or to provide a counterpoint is swifty called names like “racist” and “fascist.” That emotion is somewhat understandable. America’s past is certainly unsavory. That today’s generations learn that people were treated in such a harsh way just for their skin color, it’s no wonder that they see themselves and think, “This country is against me.” But the objective data available does not bear out the line that America’s housing policies are discriminating against black Americans.
Let’s try to sum this data up to better explain this. One of the problems that people cite, claiming it’s the biggest racist issue facing black people, is what they call the “wealth gap.” They say African American families are worth around ten times less than what white families are. Though this is flawed data on two fronts. First, it’s not a white vs. black issue. In terms of demographics in America, white people are not even in the 20 of highest-earning demographics. Indians, Asians, and many others make a lot more. This issue is pushed as if white people earn more than anyone and hold black people down, merely for being black. However, also on the list of the highest-earning demographics ahead of whites are Kenyan and Nigerian immigrants, all of whom are black. So, speaking objectively, if whites operated a systemic system oppressing black people, there is no possible way that two black (African) demographics would be earning more than whites. There is just no reason in the argument once the data is examined.
Secondly, according to Forbes, The Root, and many other sources, black Americans are the country’s number-one spending demographic on material goods. Hair products, jewelry, cars, shoes, etc; no one spends more money per capita than black Americans. The fact that black Americans save the least money in the aggregate does not make sense at all to pin to some racist policies, as those racist policies would keep black Americans from getting that spending money in the first place.
HUD, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, receives thousands of claims of discrimination every year. When investigated, only around 10% of those clams have enough evidence to go forward, and only in 2% of all cases does HUD even find discrimination. Though this also includes LGBT and class discrimination, with racial discrimination making up less than 1% of all proven claims. And HUD is overseen by black Americans, especially the Congressional Black Caucus, so it’s not as if white people are handling these investigations. A black woman, Marcia Fudge, is the head of HUD.
There could be an entire laundry list of reasons why black Americans do not find housing on par with white people. Though the data speaks entirely against the narrative that racial discrimination plays a role.
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