what does Joe Biden intend to do with pay and systemic racism, will blacks and latinos have a place..?

what does Joe Biden intend to do with pay and systemic racism, will blacks and latinos have a place..?

N Melo
by N Melo
January 18, 2021 0

What does Joe Biden intend to do with pay and systemic racism, will blacks and latinos have a place..?

A key pledge in President-elect Joe Biden’s plan to build the nation “back better’’ is to be bolder in addressing the systemic racism that has hindered the advancement of Black Americans, and other people of color, for generations.

The pursuit of racial and economic justice informed the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birth is being celebrated in a national holiday Monday. And along with health care disparities laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the police abuse brought to light by the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless other African Americans, economic inequality is front and center in the national consciousness.

“These crises have ripped the blinders off the systemic racism in America,” Biden said of COVID-19 and the nation’s struggling economy in written remarks delivered Dec. 11, when he announced nominees to his governing team.

“The Black and Latino unemployment gap remains too large,” he continued. “And communities of color are left to ask whether they will ever be able to break the cycle where in good times they lag, in bad times they are hit first and the hardest, and in recovery they take the longest to bounce back.”

Biden’s proposals include boosting lending to entrepreneurs of color; creating and restoring parks and infrastructure in Black, Latino and indigenous communities; and empowering the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to more forcefully root out discrimination in the workplace. He will take office Wednesday.

But the challenge of narrowing a racial gap that spans areas from homeownership to wages to property taxes is vast.

While the Biden-Harris administration has outlined “solid proposals” to challenge some economic inequities, to significantly “rectify racial and socioeconomic disparities that exist within Black communities, they need to address the root causes of these issues,” says Arisha Hatch, vice president and chief of campaigns for the racial justice group Color Of Change.
President-elect Joe Biden is pictured speaking at The Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware.

President-elect Joe Biden is pictured speaking at The Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster, AP Photos)

“With the systemic racism that has locked us out of job opportunities, education, and access to health care,” Hatch said, “it’s going to take more than well-intentioned plans to close the racial wealth gap for Black communities.”
Black homeownership: Lowest level in 50 years

An array of policies, practices and in some cases, outright violence, have impeded the ability of African Americans to own, or hold onto, their own homes, a key asset for building wealth.

In 2019, homeownership among whites stood at 73.3% compared with a homeownership rate of 42.8% among Black households, the widest gap since 1983, according to Harvard University’s State of the Nation’s Housing 2020 report, sponsored by Habitat for Humanity.

The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic may make that disparity even greater.

While 36% of homeowners lost pay from March through September, 41% of African American homeowners saw a drop in income according to the Harvard report, citing data from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. And at the end of September, 17% of African Americans who owned a home were behind on paying their mortgage versus 7% of whites, the report said.
April 11, 1968: Fair Housing Act     • Location: Washington, D.C. The Fair Housing Act of 1968, one of the last pieces of civil rights legislation signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, banned discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, creed, national origin, or sex. The measure, intended to add to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, had been held up in Congress, but passed quickly by the House of Representatives following the slaying of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

April 11, 1968: Fair Housing Act     • Location: Washington, D.C. The Fair Housing Act of 1968, one of the last pieces of civil rights legislation signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, banned discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, creed, national origin, or sex. The measure, intended to add to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, had been held up in Congress, but passed quickly by the House of Representatives following the slaying of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (Photo: Photo by Frank Wolfe / Interim Archives / Getty Images)

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 outlawed housing discrimination. But “these barriers continue,” says Kilolo Kijakazi, an Institute Fellow with the Urban Institute, a think tank focused on economic and social policy.

Homebuyers of color, for instance, were frequently steered toward high-interest subprime loans that are more difficult to repay, even when those same customers qualified for more affordable lending options. That left them more vulnerable to potentially losing their homes.

The subprime lending crisis contributed to the Great Recession that began in 2007.

“African American homeownership is at the lowest level that it’s been in 50 years in part due to some of the loss incurred after the subprime lending debacle,’’ Kijakazi says.

Lack of homeownership creates a domino effect, depriving families of assets to hand down, and equity that can be tapped to seed a business, pay for unexpected expenses like medical care, or to fund higher education.

“If you’re Black and your parents didn’t own a home, you’re more likely to take out loans,” says Andre Perry, a senior fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings, and author of “Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities.” “So wealth begets wealth. But a lack of wealth also begets debt, and that’s what’s happening all across the country.”
Destruction and theft of property

And then there was theft. In perhaps the first documented theft of Black people’s property, Virginia’s 1705 law took and sold off possessions belonging to “any slave,” and the profits were directed to benefit “the poor,” according to “Stamped From The Beginning” by anti-racism scholar Ibram X. Kendi.

“The story would be told many times in American history,” Kendi wrote. “Black property legally or illegally seized, the resulting Black destitution blamed on Black inferiority, the past discrimination ignored when the blame was assigned.”

In the 19th and early decades of the 20th century, white mobs frequently attacked and destroyed thriving Black communities.
An African-American photographer looking at the ruins of the Midway Hotel. The Goodner-Malone Co. is in the background.

An African-American photographer looking at the ruins of the Midway Hotel. The Goodner-Malone Co. is in the background. (Photo: The University of Tulsa, McFarlin Library Archives)

“Greenwood, Rosewood… the reality is that was going on all over the United States,” Perry says of communities in Oklahoma and Florida that in 1921 and 1923 experienced two of the most infamous episodes of such destruction.

The Tulsa massacre, which destroyed that city’s all-Black Greenwood District, began after a 19-year-old African American man, Dick Rowland, was accused of allegedly attempting to rape a 17-year-old white elevator attendant, Sarah Page.

Goaded by articles in the local newspaper, and likely fueled by white resentment of the success and affluence of the district known as “Black Wall Street,” whites descended on the community of roughly 10,000, burning 1,500 homes to the ground and bombing more than 600 Black-owned businesses, according to the Tulsa Historical Society.

Thousands were left homeless, and personal property and financial losses and damages totaled over $2 million, including cash some residents kept at home because they didn’t trust white-owned banks.

Two years later, a days-long massacre destroyed the Black community of Rosewood, Florida, as an alleged attack of a white woman by a Black man spurred mobs to torture and murder African American residents and burn the town to the ground.

In more recent decades, so-called urban renewal efforts that officially set out to revamp blighted pockets of cities often stripped Black Americans of their property without sufficient compensation.

For instance, eminent domain was used starting in the 1960s to clear more than 500 acres in the predominantly African American southwest section of Washington, D.C., uprooting 1,500 businesses and displacing 23,000 mostly Black residents, according to a paper co-authored by Kijakazi.

Redlining, a discriminatory practice that prevented Black homebuyers from getting mortgages, also left many Black neighborhoods depleted.

While redlining is now outlawed, underinvestment in Black neighborhoods continues, Perry says. And the new building and restoration that comes with gentrification often result in Blacks being displaced, unable to afford higher taxes or rents, as more affluent whites move in.

“You’d be surprised how much destruction you can do with tax policy,” Perry continues, “by selling off land to developers without consideration of the Black communities around them. It can absolutely devastate a community like a bomb.’’
Overtaxed: Blacks pay more property taxes

In 1910, it’s estimated that African Americans owned up to 16 million acres of land. Today, they own under 5 million acres, says historian Andrew Kahrl, a professor at the University of Virginia who has extensively studied African American landownership.

Based on Black population numbers in 2020 as compared with 1910, the average Black American owned 14.5 times more land a century ago than they do today, according to a USA TODAY analysis.

One reason for that staggering loss is property taxes, which, at times, have been used overtly to strip African Americans of their property.

“A lot of this was very subtle” Kahr saysl. “Many African American landowners didn’t know they were being overtaxed… But over time, it added up to being a very heavy burden with long-term consequences for Black wealth-building and economic mobility.’’

N Melo
NM
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