“How Redlining Shaped Black America as We Know it”

Check out this video from The Root that describes the design of one of white supremacy’s most insidious and lasting design strategies: Redlining.

“To understand racism in America, one must first disabuse themselves of the idea that race is a social construct—an idea that has been created and accepted by the people in a society.

Money is a social construct. We accept the idea that a dollar issued by the U.S. government is worth more than Monopoly money. Even if our currency were backed by gold, the precious metal is only valuable because we have collectively agreed to its worth. The American idea of race, specifically whiteness, is an economic construct. From the beginning, it has existed in conjunction with trade, ownership and the laws of supply and demand.

To see how the government-sanctioned policy of redlining impacts America 80 years after it was instituted, one must first understand the era in which the policy originated. In the mid-193os, to lift America out of the Great Depression, the New Deal created huge economic programs sponsored by the federal government.

These are the policies that essentially built what we now know as the middle class. Programs like the new Social Security Administration gave people financial security, the Works Progress Administration gave people jobs, and the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) refinanced mortgages at low interests rates to prevent foreclosures.

To ensure that these mortgages were not risky, the HOLC created color-coded “residential security maps” of 239 cities. The maps essentially highlighted the neighborhoods that were good investments versus neighborhoods that were poor investments. The “risky” neighborhoods were highlighted in red, including every one of the 239 cities’ black neighborhoods.

We must remember that, because everyone was poor during the Great Depression, these maps did not reflect economic status. In fact, upscale black neighborhoods like LaVilla and Sugar Hill in Jacksonville, Fla., home to Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Zora Neale Hurston, were deemed “too risky,” by the HOLC.”

Read more of the article that accompanies this video.

Below are other notes from my archives on understanding redlining:

Oppression is by Design

Redlining and the Myth of “Self-Made” Success

Quick Video Explaining the Racial Wealth Gap


From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins-Jones

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I'm a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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