Category Archives: Black

The Great Eviction (Long Read)

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The Great Eviction – The Landscape of Wall Street’s Creative Destruction by Laura Gottesdiener August 2, 2013

We cautiously ascend the staircase, the pitch black of the boarded-up house pierced only by my companion’s tiny circle of light. At the top of the landing, the flashlight beam dances in a corner as Quafin, who offered only her first name, points out the furnace. She is giddy; this house — unlike most of the other bank-owned buildings on the block — isn’t completely uninhabitable.

It had been vacated, sealed and winterized in June 2010, according to a notice on the wall posted by BAC Field Services Corporation, a division of Bank of America. It warned: “entry by unauthorized persons is strictly prohibited.” But Bank of America has clearly forgotten about the house and its requirement to provide the “maintenance and security” that would ensure the property could soon be reoccupied. The basement door is ajar, the plumbing has been torn out of the walls and the carpet is stained with water. The last family to live here bought the home for $175,000 in 2002; eight years later, the bank claimed an improbable $286,100 in past-due balances and repossessed it.

It’s May 2012 and we’re in Woodlawn, a largely African-American neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. The crew Quafin is a part of dubbed themselves the HIT Squad, short for Housing Identification and Target. Their goal is to map blighted, bank-owned homes with overdue property taxes and neighbors angry enough about the destruction of their neighborhood to consider supporting a plan to repossess on the repossessors.

“Anything I can do,” one woman tells the group after being briefed on its plan to rehab bank-owned homes and move in families without houses. She points across the street to a sagging, boarded-up place adorned with a worn banner — “Grandma’s House Child Care: Register Now!” — and a disconnected number. There are 20 bank-owned homes like it in a five-block radius. Records showed that at least five of them were years past due on their property taxes.

Where exterior walls once were, some houses sport charred holes from fires lit by people trying to stay warm. In 2011, two Chicago firefighters died trying to extinguish such a fire at a vacant foreclosed building. Now, houses across the South Side are pockmarked with red Xs, indicating places the fire department believes to be structurally unsound. In other states – Wisconsin, Minnesota and New York, to name recent examples — foreclosed houses have taken to exploding after bank contractors forgot to turn off the gas.

Most of the occupied homes in the neighborhood we’re visiting display small signs: “Don’t shoot,” they read in lettering superimposed on a child’s face, “I want to grow up.” On the bank-owned houses, such signs have been replaced by heavy-duty steel window guards. (“We work with all types of servicers, receivers, property management and bank asset managers, enabling you to quickly and easily secure your building so you can move on,” boasts Door and Window Guard Systems, a leading company in the burgeoning “building security industry.”)

The dangerous houses are the ones left unsecured, littered with trash and empty Cobra vodka bottles. We approach one that reeks of rancid tuna fish and attempt to push open the basement door, held closed only by a flimsy wire. The next-door neighbor, returning home, asks: “Did you know they killed someone in that backyard just this morning?”

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The Equivalent of the Population of Michigan Foreclosed

Since 2007, the foreclosure crisis has displaced at least 10 million people from more than four million homes across the country. Families have been evicted from colonials and bungalows, A-frames and two-family brownstones, trailers and ranches, apartment buildings and the prefabricated cookie-cutters that sprang up after World War II. The displaced are young and old, rich and poor, and of every race, ethnicity and religion. They add up to approximately the entire population of Michigan.

Continue reading The Great Eviction (Long Read)

How US Republicans became the “White Man’s Party” (Long Read)

I struggle to understand where the  sheer nastiness of Southern US Republicans came from. Their attitudes and philosophies seem so at odds with the Liberal Democracy of the Roosevelts which had seemed to me to be the dominant philosophy in the US before. It turns out that they are classic opportunistic huckster politicians  playing the Race card as their like have done throughout history (see Nigel Farage), but this time with a breathtaking arrogance that was only made possible because 150 years after the US civil war ended slavery the country’s issues with Race had still not been addressed. This is a thoughtful article which details how the the US moves towards Civils Rights in the 1960’s produced an opposite reaction of the fear of loss of White privilege in many Southerners which cynical Republicans are still successfully mining for support today (see Fox News). Learning how to play the dog whistle was the key to it all….

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For nearly 50 years US Republicans have banked on the unerring support of Southern white men. Here’s how it came to be by IAN HANEY-LOPEZ DEC 22, 2013

Excerpted from “Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class.”

Few names conjure the recalcitrant South, fighting integration with fire-breathing fury, like that of George Wallace. The central image of this “redneck poltergeist,” as one biographer referred to him, is of Wallace during his inauguration as governor of Alabama in January 1963, before waves of applause and the rapt attention of the national media, committing himself to the perpetual defense of segregation. Speaking on a cold day in Montgomery, Wallace thundered his infamous call to arms: “Today I have stood, where once Jefferson Davis stood, and took an oath to my people. It is very appropriate then that from this Cradle of the Confederacy, this very Heart of the Great Anglo-Saxon Southland … we sound the drum for freedom. … In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny . . . and I say … segregation now … segregation tomorrow … segregation forever!”

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The story of dog whistle politics begins with George Wallace. But it does not start with Wallace as he stood that inauguration day. Rather, the story focuses on who Wallace was before, and on whom he quickly became.

Continue reading How US Republicans became the “White Man’s Party” (Long Read)

If Eric Garner Were White – His death would be a Tea Party crusade

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PETER BEINARTDEC 4 2014, 10:08 AM ET

Imagine that Eric Garner had been white. Imagine that he’d been living in Idaho. Imagine that the law-enforcement officers who killed him had been federal agents.

His death would be a Tea Party crusade.

Think about it. The police hassled Garner because he had a history of selling untaxed cigarettes. It’s the kind of big-government intrusion that drives Tea Partiers nuts. One of the events that helped launch the Tea Party, in fact, came in January 2009, when activists from Young Americans for Liberty donned American Indian garb to protest the soda taxes proposed by then-New York Governor David Patterson.

Garner responded to being hassled with a statement of “don’t tread on me” anti-government defiance: “I was just minding my own business. Every time you see me you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today!”

A tussle ensued. The police put Garner in a chokehold, and he died.

The Garner case bears some resemblance to that of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who this spring prevented Bureau of Land Management agents from impounding his cattle after he refused to pay government grazing fees. Like Garner, Bundy was engaged in a form of commerce he believed the government should not tax. Like Garner, Bundy resisted law enforcement’s efforts to punish him for it. For many conservatives, this made Bundy a hero and the government that sought to penalize him a tyranny. Right-wing activists, including some Republican legislators, flocked to Bundy’s ranch as he stared down federal agents, and Nevada Senator Dean Heller dubbed these vigilantes “patriots.” “At the heart of this issue,” declared Fox’s Sean Hannity, is “my belief that our government is simply out of control.” Ted Cruz called the Bundy affair “the unfortunate and tragic culmination of the path that President Obama has set the federal government on” in which “we have seen our constitutional liberties eroded.”

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To imagine how Fox News would be reacting right now had Garner been white, rural, and facing the feds, you need only imagine how it would have reacted had a BLM agent shot Bundy dead.

Continue reading If Eric Garner Were White – His death would be a Tea Party crusade

Margaret Mead on the Root of Racism and the Liability of Law Enforcement by Maria Popova

“The more complex a society becomes, the more fully the law must take into account the diversity of the people who live in it… It is a matter in which the whole society is involved.”

On her ascent to fame as the world’s best-known and most influential cultural anthropologist, Margaret Mead became one of modern history’s greatest academic celebrities. As she toured the world to give university lectures, public talks, and presentations at various institutions, she brought with her the essential tools of anthropology — the art of looking, coupled with a great capacity for listening, for asking and answering questions. In 1963, Redbook Magazine began publishing Mead’s answers to the best questions she had received from audiences over her extensive career.

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After Mead’s death in late 1978, her partner of a quarter-century, the anthropologist and Redbook editor Rhoda Metraux, collected the best of these questions and answers in Margaret Mead: Some Personal Views  — a compendium of Mead’s timeless insight into the human condition, bearing remarkably timely relevance to contemporary culture and public life even today. Many of Mead’s views — particularly her beliefs on equal parenting and the fluidity of human sexuality — were decades ahead of her time, but one particular subject stuns with its prescience half a century later, in the heartbreaking aftermath of Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, and Eric Garner: Mead’s piercing wisdom on the root of racism and the liability of law enforcement.

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Continue reading Margaret Mead on the Root of Racism and the Liability of Law Enforcement by Maria Popova

America’s Richest Black County is Still being Crushed by a Foreclosure Crisis caused by often overtly Racist lending – Meanwhile, the big banks were bailed out and are now making record profits.

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By Nathalie Baptiste October 16, 2014  |

Driving through Prince George’s County, Maryland, it’s not obvious that its towns and cities are at the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis in the Washington, D.C., region. In the town of Bowie, for instance, large colonial-style homes with attached two-car garages, spacious apartment buildings designed for families, and modern shopping centers line the streets. As in any other middle-class community, school-aged children chase each other in front yards while their parents monitor from the porch, and twentysomethings in workout gear jog the tree-lined streets. There’s no shortage of schools, community centers and places of worship, and if any homes are abandoned, it’s not glaringly obvious.

What sets Prince George’s County apart from other upscale regions is that most of its citizens are black. No other majority-black counties in the United States are even comparable in terms of numbers of educated citizens and middle-class incomes, but when the economy crumbled, so did the dreams of many homeowners living in Prince George’s. And despite promises of help by President Barack Obama and lawmakers, seven years after the housing bubble burst, the county’s foreclosure crisis has only slowed, not abated.

As the wealthiest black-majority county in the United States, Prince George’s has long represented the pinnacle of black success. The county’s median household income is $73,568—a full $20,000 more than the median household income of the United States as a whole. Only 7.1 percent of U.S. firms are black-owned, but in Prince George’s that number stands at a whopping 54.5 percent.

A full 29.5 percent of people over the age of 25 hold bachelor’s degrees—slightly higher than the 28.5 percent rate for all persons in the United States. Known colloquially as just P.G., the county is filled with lawyers, entrepreneurs, teachers, and federal employees. In popular lore, Prince George’s was proof that, while blacks still lagged behind in education, wealth and employment, the black community was finally catching up.

But in 2007, the bursting of the housing bubble triggered an economic recession that rippled throughout the global economy. For years, the housing market had been booming; in 2007 the U.S. median price for a house hit a record high of $247,900. By 2009, though, that number had fallen to $216,700. For Prince George’s County, however, the decline was much more stark. In 2009 the median price for a house dropped by nearly $100,000, from $343,000 to just $245,000

Continue reading America’s Richest Black County is Still being Crushed by a Foreclosure Crisis caused by often overtly Racist lending – Meanwhile, the big banks were bailed out and are now making record profits.

Thoughtful article discusses how US Republicans are still fixing elections in 2014 by being Racist

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Republican war on black voters quietly re-ignites: New ploys show it’s not just ancient history – How the long history of Southern states trying to disenfranchise African-Americans got an ugly new boost this month ERIC GARCIA THURSDAY, SEP 25, 2014 11:58 AM +0100

GOP war on black voters quietly re-ignites: New ploys show it’s not just ancient history

From Wikipedia:

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was a landmark piece of federal legislation in the United States that prohibited racial discrimination in voting. It was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson during the height of the American Civil Rights Movement on August 6, 1965, and Congress later amended the Act five times to expand its protections. Designed to enforce the voting rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. The Act allowed millions of members of racial minorities throughout the country to vote, often for the first time, especially in the South. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Act was considered to be the most effective piece of civil rights legislation ever enacted in the country.

The Act contained numerous provisions that regulated the administration of elections. The Act’s “general provisions” provide nationwide protections for voting rights. Section 2, for instance, prohibited any state or local government from imposing any voting law that results in discrimination against racial or language minorities. Additionally, the Act specifically outlawed literacy tests and similar devices that were historically used to disenfranchise racial minorities.

The Act also contains “special provisions” that apply to only certain jurisdictions. A core special provision is the Section 5 preclearance requirement, which prohibits certain jurisdictions from implementing any change affecting voting without receiving preapproval from the U.S. Attorney General or the U.S. District Court for D.C. that the change does not discriminate against protected minorities. 

The special provisions nearly all applied to jurisdictions encompassed by a “coverage formula” prescribed in Section 4(b). The coverage formula was originally designed to encompass jurisdictions that engaged in the most egregious voting discrimination in 1965, and Congress updated the formula in 1970 and 1975.

In Shelby County v. Holder (2013), the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the coverage formula as unconstitutional, reasoning that it was no longer responsive to current conditions

When Chief Justice John Roberts of the Supreme Court wrote the majority opinion striking down a key part of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 , he said “our country has changed,” arguing that the circumstances that led to the initial formula for preclearance  was no longer valid because the country had overcome much of its racial prejudice. But in the year immediately following the decision, many Southern conservatives have shown that many of the prejudices that prevented blacks from voting in the past are still manifesting themselves today through attempts to suppress the vote of minorities.

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Continue reading Thoughtful article discusses how US Republicans are still fixing elections in 2014 by being Racist

I always wondered how Republicans in Southern US states stay in power when they clearly such a bunch of racist dickheads – Ah I see – Its because they fix the elections!!!!!

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It’s disgusting, and it’s still about race: Southern Republicans simply don’t want minorities to vote – The latest chilling example in Georgia is part of a long, shameful history of how Republicans win elections HEATHER DIGBY PARTON FRIDAY, SEP 12, 2014 02:30 PM +0100

Sometimes conservative politicians, particularly those who hail from the South, accidentally forget to dog-whistle and they say what’s really on their minds. It’s always revealing.

Take the Georgia secretary of state, for instance, who just this week gave a speech about voting “integrity” and told his Republican audience, “the Democrats are working hard, and all these stories about them, you know, registering all these minority voters that are out there and others that are sitting on the sidelines, if they can do that, they can win these elections in November.” That was actually a rare slip-up in an otherwise pretty slick speech where he obliquely referred to ACORN and its alleged misdeeds and bragged about how the state is making it really complicated to register online so as to root out (nonexistent) voter fraud, wink, wink. (That last seems like a dubious strategy for a party that is dependent on elderly, rural white voters …)

But after you isolate all the clever obfuscation, you see that he is simply saying that Democrats are registering too many racial minorities and that will inevitably hurt the ball team. This is, of course, an old story that goes back to Reconstruction. In those days the Southern conservatives all gathered in the Democratic Party, but any party with which those particular folks identify gets upset at the prospect of racial minorities voting. Such things as “citizenship tests” and poll taxes are no longer available to them so they have to rely on subtler ways to ensure that this group of citizens are kept from voting their interests.

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Continue reading I always wondered how Republicans in Southern US states stay in power when they clearly such a bunch of racist dickheads – Ah I see – Its because they fix the elections!!!!!