Redlining is a practice, which is now illegal, that puts services (such as buying a home) out of reach for residents of certain areas based on their race. Lending institutions and real estate agents would highlight communities on maps in red if a majority of the residents were Black. Anyone seeking out a mortgage loan or other related service in a red area would be shut out of qualification for that service despite being individually credit worthy themselves. Simply for the color of their skin, Black people would be turned away from lending institutions despite having good credit.
Another way to disenfranchise Black people and stunt the growth of careers and wealth in the Black community was to deny them equal access to programs and agencies. After WWII ended, the GI Bill promised assistance, including low interest mortgages, for many returning veterans. However, almost a million Black veterans who served our country during the war were denied the use of the GI Bill. See more information on this in an article linked below.
In Oregon, gentrification has caused many Black communities to be displaced. Gentrification is a process where white people will overtake an already established neighborhood and impose their own preferences and tastes on the businesses and homes, pushing out the previous residents through increased living costs. For reference, look up the history of Vanport and the Albina neighborhood.
Homeowners Associations (HOA) were used to keep Black people from moving into neighborhoods with white folks. The use of Bylaws and Restrictive Covenants were actually popularized because you could easily discriminate against Black people by having it written in these documents that no Black residents could live there. This could also be written in deeds on houses, making it impossible to sell some homes to a Black person. When it became illegal to use race as a way to discriminate, the system adapted and voting among HOA members to allow or deny a person to purchase a home in their community became common. This made it possible to regulate the race of the people in the neighborhood without explicitly mentioning it, because residents did not have to state the reason for the way they voted.
It is important that we learn the history of our country and then look at the disparity in the data today. If passing laws through the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s had solved racism then we’d see more equal distribution in home ownership or generational wealth. But we don’t. We actually see that decades of disenfranchisement have caused real consequences that are passed down through generations. There is an article listed below that states, as of 2016, white families have on average 10x the amount of wealth of Black families. Think about what it would mean to be able to purchase a home, pay off the mortgage, and then build wealth for the remainder of your life as opposed to paying rent for 60 years. For almost all of US history, Black people have been locked out of that possibility explicitly in the law. And then when it became illegal, Black people were still locked out through other race-neutral policies that were targeting Black communities. This isn’t to say it’s impossible for Black people to own a home or be successful, we know that isn’t true. The focus is on the overall picture of how huge the wealth gaps are and how these systems still operate inequitably since proper amends have not been made to make opportunities equitable.
Wealth begets wealth, so over time that gap will continue to increase if we don’t change something. When you have wealth you have more freedom to make investments, make mistakes, etc. How this plays out today is relevant. For a recent example of how programs and things can be more beneficial to white people is the Paycheck Protection Program that was rolled out to help small businesses survive the shutdown due to COVID-19. Flaws in the structuring of that program made it so that up to 90% of businesses owned by people of color were shut out from benefits. In the article listed below, they discuss how the program was structured to prioritize larger loan applications in order to maximize banks’ own profits. Analyzing this, you can see that when there is a lack of generational wealth, your business will not be as large because you most likely have less money to invest up front and cannot secure a large bank loan. So when COVID hits and things shut down, you aren’t making any income. And then you’re shut out of the programs in place to help assist during this time that absolutely no one saw coming. Many businesses have already shut down and a majority are struggling. So you can see the layers here that create the disparity especially as time moves on and nothing is done to right the wrongs of the past.
We are in a unique position as Christians to know that there is a true enemy at work in this world who comes to steal, kill, and divide. We know racism is evil and, unfortunately, it hasn’t gone away but has adapted throughout US history. Evil has a stronghold in the systems running through all levels of our society. it is illegal to write laws that are overtly racist so many don’t even recognize that the systems in place are embedded with implicit bias, designed to disproportionately impact people groups such as our Black brothers and sisters. However, we can see the inequitable outcomes and listen to Black people and heed their word that if we are not actively working to dismantle the systems then we are complicit in advancing racism.
Redlined, A Legacy of Housing Discrimination, a 15 minute documentary by The Two Hundred
Webinar: The Racialization of Housing by Be The Bridge
Up to 90% of minority and women owners shut out of Paycheck Protection Program, experts fear by Megan Cerullo Racial Disparities in Home Appreciation by The Center for American Progress, July 15, 2019
Watch The Banker, a film available on AppleTV+
Dear Lord, thank you for who you are and that your heart is for justice. Jesus, we praise you for the sacrifice of your life that ushered in your Kingdom of perfect peace and unity. Holy Spirit, bring forth the words, the heart change, and the actions to further Your work on racial justice. Heal the bitterness that has taken root surrounding any aspect of racial injustice. Extend forgiveness to those of us that have ignored the cries of our Black brothers and sister’s pain and have failed to act in response. Please intercede on behalf of the Church’s heart towards racial justice. Open the eyes of your believers and take away anything inhibiting them from seeing and responding to the pain of their brother’s and sisters. Lord, break the chains of the housing and financial systems, strip away anything hiding racism and oppression, and place us in a position where we act boldly to interrupt and end the injustices. Amen.