1 thought on “Les Payne: Steering minorities away from ‘white’ neighborhoods

  1. CITII

    Steering is a euphemistic and inherently dishonest word in this context. Racism in housing has persisted because people collude in doing what is wrong and lack the courage to do what is right. Having said that there is a human and psychological cost to living in neighborhoods where one is not wanted. The human toll has to do with direct personal and terrorists attacks – spraying the n word on Black people’s houses, burning crosses on their lawns …The psychological cost results in the fear and helplessness that these attacks generate – the realization that one had no protection from or redress from these attacks, either from the community, the police or the court; given that these entities are often actively involved in perpetrating or enabling such attacks.

    A uniquely systemic flaw trap black people into believing that white is right, and where white people reside is inherently better. The reality is that the main reason it appears that way is because the sociopolitical, judicial, economic, educational, political systems in place make it so, when they practice unfair lending – really no lending; when they refuse to fix broken streets, lights; when the police who are paid by Black people’s tax dollars are the enemy of Black people’s rights, when the court system use a different more empathetic, standard to punish the transgressions of whites, impose unreasonable bail on blacks (Bruce Wright documents in “Black Robes White Justice, and Bryan Stevenson in “Just Mercy”) and the myriad of things that make it near impossible for black people to survive much less thrive.

    A tragic irony exists in these times of rising sea levels re “steering, redlining,” Black people were relegated to inland communities which are typically on higher ground and further from the threat of flooding. Now that it has become clear that their prized and exclusive property is under imminent threat of inundation, these same whites are re victimizing Black people by displacing them through gentrification.

    It could be argued (and often is) that Black people contribute to their victimization; and to some degree they do, but mostly in a circular logic kind of way. 88% of teachers in the failing schools of black communities are white females. 4 out or five attorneys and DAs are white, police departments are largely white, hollywood is white, ads on tv are white, recognized beauty is the white esthetic – these groups ensure that black transgressions are felonies felons can’t serve on juries so juries are mostly white, ( and even when black people are eligible to serve on juries attorneys usually conspire to make them ineligible) and on and on and on… The result, learned helplessness, alienation from themselves and their communities; from a lifetime of colluding with whites (in the interest of false peace) through silence, tacit acceptance, understandable when they are forced to focused on trying to prove that they are good enough, human enough to benefit from the rights (to life, the pursuit of happiness…) ostensibly guaranteed them under the constitution of these United States.


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