27 December 2013

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USA: Housing In The Face Of White Privilege

The New Year is about to be upon us and the last thing anyone is thinking about is housing discrimination.  But once you start searching you can still see the result of our country’s long history with discrimination lingering in our housing market.  There is a giant income, life expectancy, and educational gap between African & Latino Americans and white folk.  

Is there Fair Housing?
The foundation to all of these problems is where and how you live your life.  The relationship between discrimination and housing helps make clear the disparities minorities face.  Reports have noted that asthma rates, infant mortality, education, fresh food, employment, and even parks are all influenced by your neighborhood. 

Local services and public amenities like school systems are funded by property taxes.  Neighborhoods with higher property values are in essence going to have better local services and public amenities.  In many ways property values have divided opportunities, and made the climb out steep for minorities. 

That steep climb out started with the federal government back in the 1930s as loans were refused if black people lived nearby.  As a result builders openly discriminated against black people from living in new developments.  In order to get by black people were forced to live in areas where education, employment and income were hard hit.  These clustered areas were in poorer urban areas where the white folk didn’t want to live, and as a result received inferior public service.

Housing Discrimination Today?
Unfortunately discrimination still exists today, but is much harder to recognize.  A recent study by NPR found that people of color are treated differently when they inquire about buying or renting a home when compared to white people.  The study found that white folk were shown more units on average, and were also offered lower rent.  This level of discrimination is referred to as, “White Privilege” and is often unnoticed by all parties involved. 

When most people think of housing discrimination they think of signs on doors saying, “No Negroes” or having doors slammed in faces.  White Privilege is a hidden level of discrimination that is deeply rooted in pop-culture and as a result will be very difficult to change.  Though slavery has been abolished, and most other extremely obvious racist practices have been eliminated, there are small practices left over as crumbs. The thing about crumbs is unless you get on your hands and knees those crumbs can get left behind. 

What is White Privilege?
White Privilege is when a white person receives unearned preference based on no merit.  The thing about White Privilege is that white people don’t necessarily do it to themselves, but people of color do it to each other.  One of the theories is that people of color constantly see stereotypes of themselves played out in both reality, and media and begin to see themselves as such.  When a black man is asked by another black man to rent an apartment White Privilege is present, in that the black man has in the back of his head that this black man might be a gangbanger.  Simply removing this line of thinking in all of us is going to take a long time, but the first step is to acknowledge White Privilege and to talk about it.

Featured image:
License: Creative Commons image source 

About Today's Contributor
Austin Faux works for HomeVestors Franchise.  When not selling homes Austin loves spending time with his family, and taking his kids to the park.  You can also find Austin playing chess in tournaments across the country.   

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