If It’s Not Racism, What Else Could It Be?

Greenville     Why bend over backwards anymore trying to figure out some rational reason that Washington politicians and policy makers are enacting some of their new policies and rollbacks?  If it quacks like a duck, swims like a duck, it is probably a duck.  If some of these policies are not blatant racism, what else could it be?   The cases, one after another, are marching in lockstep behind each other.

The House of Representatives joined the earlier Republicans in the Senate in rolling back an Obama-era rule that had prevented racial discrimination in auto loans.  You understand what I’m saying, they just made it legal to charge African-Americans and others higher interest rates when getting auto loans than they charge white families.  How is that not racism?

Fair housing groups both nationally and in Texas have been forced to sue Ben Carson and HUD to get enforcement of an Obama-era rule that had been promulgated after two years of hearing that amended the 50-year old Fair Housing Act that would mandate that housing recovery money be spent for those in the most need and without discrimination.  Suspending the rule has allowed Hurricane Harvey money to not be spent by those guidelines in Houston’s recovery.  How is that not racism?

President Trump has ranted for months about a caravan of families that assembled in Central America in a march that more than 200 successfully completed in order to petition for asylum in the United States because of violence and attacks against them in their countries.  Trump spoke of this as an “invasion” in order to stoke the anti-immigrant bias and hate from his base.  Now the Justice Department is calling for criminal prosecution of all border crossers and breaking up families.  Trump’s director of Homeland Security called for immigrants to go to recognized ports of entry to appeal for asylum, which is exactly what the caravan walkers had done.  How is that not racism?

I’m not saying it’s a surprise.  We all knew this was coming.  What’s shocking is how blatant it all is.  The level of impunity is amazing.  Watching the clock turn back more than 50 years in front of our eyes is devastating.

Recently I’ve been hearing the advice, “When someone shows you who they are, listen to them.”  I’m listening and looking, and there’s no denying who they are.  The question is increasingly how we stand together against them when it is pure and simple racism?

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Please Enjoy Matthew Logan Vasquez’s Sierra Blanca.

Thanks to KABF. 

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Discrimination is Running Rampant in Bank Lending

New Orleans        One of the toughest questions I got on my road tour of six countries was essentially, “how does it feel to have to keep fighting to hold on to every victory against constant opposition,” or in other words how do we do the work when every victory involves constant struggle.  My answer, most simply put, was that constant struggle is the nature of the work and relentless opposition to our demands, defines the necessity of building powerful, mass-based organizations.

At the same time the example I often gave was the significant accomplishment over thirty years from the 1977 to 2007 in home ownership in American by lower income families, African-Americans, and Latinos from the passage of the Community Reinvestment Act, joined aggressively by ACORN and many other community organizations, to the housing bubble crash at the leading edge of the Great Recession.  Now most of those home ownership gains have been erased in the last decade of foreclosures and the widening expanse of the credit desert.

It turns out there is even an uglier story underneath that disaster.  Reveal, the online publication of the Center for Investigative Reporting, picked up a task that used to be ACORN’s annual labor for thirty years through 2008 and examined 31 million mortgage records to understand current banking practices in making loans.  They found that the odds of African-Americans and Latinos being denied conventional mortgages compared to whites of equivalent income, loan size, and other factors were worse in sixty-one metropolitan areas.  The list of cities suffering that infamy included Atlanta, Denver, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and San Antonio.  African-Americans bore the worst brunt of discrimination in the South, unsurprisingly, in cities like Mobile, Alabama, Greenville, South Carolina, and Gainesville, Florida.  Latinos took the worst beating in Iowa City, Iowa.

The litany of discrimination by banks and heartbreak for families trying to build citizen wealth is relentless.  Blacks were turned down more often in 48 metro areas, while Latinos experienced the same in 25, Asian-Americans in nine, and native Americans in three.  Take a bet with me that these are areas where each group is significant in the overall population.  In Philly, African-Americans received ten times fewer loans than whites even though their numbers are about equal.  In Washington, D.C, all minority groups faced discrimination compared to whites, so welcome to the nation’s capital where banks discriminate across the board.

Banks have been hiding behind their errors, compounded with multi-billion-dollar settlements, for the last decade, just as they have hidden their discrimination behind the  confidentiality of credit scores, that often have the reliability of lie detector tests.

Can we count on the Federal Reserve to step up as the regulator here?  Not likely.  How about Congress, where campaign contributions are king?  Not likely.

As I answered in Brighton, struggle is constant, and this example is a reminder that the battle needs to be engaged again on the housing front with new tactics and new demands now that banks have reverted to newer and more subtle systems of discrimination.

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