Random (but not really)

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Exclusion Covenants & Generational Poverty

Something that the right conveniently ignores is how systemic racism has kept minorities from accumulating wealth in the same manner non-minorities have for decades.

Consider ghettos, which were originally areas where Jews were segregated. The modern sensibility no longer thinks of religious segregation when ghettos are mentioned, but as areas where poor brown people lived in public housing.

Except that really it’s the same thing.

Exclusion Covenant

Mar 20, 1945

…the said land or buildings theron shall never be rented, leased, or sold, transferred or conveyed to, nor shall the same be occupied exclusively by any negro or colored person or person of negro blood.

I regularly hear “conservatives” claim that people should pull themselves up by their own bootstraps (which is QUITE LITERALLY something that is defined as impossible) completely ignoring the systemic racism that forced minorities into these ghettos where poverty and violence thrived, and where even if someone wanted an education, what was available to them was in no way comparable to that available to children not trapped in ghettos.

Before it was torn apart by freeway construction in the middle of the 20th century, the Near North neighborhood in Minneapolis was home to the city’s largest concentration of African American families. That wasn’t by accident: As far back as the early 1900s, racially restrictive covenants on property deeds prevented African Americans and other minorities from buying homes in many other areas throughout the city.

What continues to astound me is that so many West Virginians–who should understand systemic and generational poverty because it is inherent across the state–are blind to the same forces that keep WV struggling doing to same to others.

It’s the same process. The same forces. The difference is that the majority of us in WV aren’t doubly burdened by out skin color.

Racial covenants were tools used by real estate developers in the 19th and 20th century to prevent people of color from buying or occupying property. Often just a few lines of text, these covenants were inserted into warranty deeds across the country. These real estate contracts were powerful tools for segregationists. Real estate developers and public officials used private property transactions to build a hidden system of American apartheid during the twentieth century.

For centuries, the powerful have used poverty and segregation to keep “undesirables” “in their place”. It’s why mine owners used company scrip and had company schools and fought the unions tooth and nail: so they could maintain their wealth by keeping workers from rising above their station.

I understand that white privilege is something that makes no sense to rural West Virginians, who have been struggling with generational poverty themselves and so feel as if they don’t have any privilege, so this must be some kind of bullshit.

But it’s not.

However, those in power are going to push the narrative that it is, to push division between groups that have so much in common, so they can continue to maintain power and increased their own wealth.

I don’t have any solutions. I don’t even have the personal strength to fight power.

But I’m tired of being quiet about it.

When Minneapolis Segregated (https://www.citylab.com/equity/2020/01/minneapolis-history-housing-discrimination-mapping-prejudice/604105/)
Mapping Prejudice (https://www.mappingprejudice.org/)

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