Blood, Shed, and Fears
How do we account for the resiliency of racial segregation?
Tobias Armborst, Daniel D'Oca, Georgeen Theodore, Riley Gold
Not so long ago, it wasn’t so difficult for white people to legally exclude people of color from their communities. For example, they could count on real estate developers to embed racial covenants in the deeds of neighborhood homes, thereby forbidding “persons of Asiatic, African, or Negro blood” from living in them. They could count on brokers to never introduce “inharmonious elements” into their neighborhood. In some cases, they could count on their city to zone entire neighborhoods for specific races, thereby prohibiting people of color from moving into majority white areas (and vice versa) in the first place. Most importantly of all, perhaps, they could count on the federal government to “redline” black neighborhoods, and steer lenders away from the inner-city, while also incentivizing “white flight” into segregated, postwar suburban communities. Of course, when any of these (or countless other) methods of exclusion faltered, a racist white citizenry could also commit violent terrorist acts against black people with relative impunity.
Racial covenants, racial steering, racial zoning, and mortgage discrimination have been outlawed, but as the discriminatory antics described in this essay make clear, there is certainly no shortage of contemporary weapons of exclusion. These discriminatory antics illustrate the resiliency of racism.