How the Federal Government Built White Suburbia (segregation)
I pasted a bit of it here. The underlying point is that segregation didn't just happen. Ghettos weren't an accident. Segregated neighborhoods were created intentionally, by both conservative and liberal white people of the time.
The Federal Government Built Exclusively White Neighborhoods
Federally funded public housing got its start in the New Deal. From the very beginning, public housing was segregated by race. Harold L. Ickes, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior and the most liberal member of President Franklin D. Roosevelts brain trust, proposed the neighborhood composition rule, which said that segregated public housing would preserve the segregated character of neighborhoods. (This was the liberal position. Conservatives preferred to build no public housing for black people at all.)
After World War II, the Federal Housing Administration (a precursor to HUD) and the Veterans Administration hired builders to mass-produce American suburbsfrom Levittown near New York to Daly City in the Bay Areain order to ease the post-war housing shortage. Builders received federal loans on the explicit condition that homes would not be sold to black homebuyers.
The Housing Act of 1949, a tentpole of President Harry Trumans Fair Deal, greatly expanded the reach of the public housing program, which was then producing the most popular form of housing (!) in the country. In an effort to kill the bill, conservatives tried to tack on a poison pill to the legislation: an amendment that would have required public housing to be integrated.
I live in one of those white suburbias and will write the next chapter on this subject.
I just read the full Atlantic Institute speech, and it is breathtaking in proving, beyond any possible shadow of a doubt, that both the lily white suburbs and poverty stricken back ghettos, that have characterized American society since the New Deal, were the result of official U.S.government policy. Those policies,put in place directly and explicitly by both parties, are the root cause of our current, racialized society.
Many of us here were brought up in the 50s and 60s, and there was never, to my knowledge, any hint that redlining and ghettoization weren't just local but federal policy.
I am ashamed.
Except that most of the suburbs around Houston date to long after this. Mine was built in 2006. It's more segregated now than it was in 2008.
Moreover, cities were pretty segregated in the '10s and '20s and '30s. We confuse codfication and history with origin and the present. It's convenient, it's nice for rhetoric, but it only confuses thinking.
While mentioning history, it's still true that most black segregated areas still are black and segregation; we tend to decry gentrification when it happens. Many of the all-white neighborhoods from the '50s are now mostly minority, often black (or in the S/SW Latino). Partly because integration led to white flight, but also because it's older housing stock, smaller in size, and often just less desirable than a lot of newer housing.
The audio story is lengthy, and worth the listen....