[sixties-l] Re: disparities

From: Paul Lauter (paul.lauter@trincoll.edu)
Date: 10/07/00

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    Someone (DH?) wrote:
    point is that in a framework where the laws are race neutral, the
    economy will work to eliminate economic disparities based on race.<
    It would be pretty to think so.  It would be better to check out a book like
    George Lipsitz' "The Possessive Investment in Whiteness" or Micaela di
    Leonardo's "Exotics at Home."
        The problem is that racist policies of the past have created disparites,
    particularly in wealth, that "race neutral" laws and policies today do
    nothing to overcome.  For example, the main source of personal wealth for
    most middle-class Americans has come from buying and selling homes.  But in
    the post WWII period agencies like the FHA and the VA implemented policies
    that were by no means race-neutral.  In fact, they tended to maintain
    housing segregation, which meant that whites were able to buy property in
    areas where values appreciated significantly, whereas most blacks and
    Latinos were confined to areas where values declined or did not
    significantly appreciate.  Most--not all, of course.  But the result of
    this--among many, many other such policies--is an enormous discrepancy in
    wealth (far greater than in income) between most white and most minority
    families.  And that translates into continued profound inequality in
    opportunity and life chances.  It would take years, if not centuries, of
    "affirmative action" to overcome such deeply-engrained disparities.
        It also, btw, translates into some of the violent opposition in, for
    example, white working-class suburbs (see, for example, Thomas Sugrue's and
    Mike Goldfield's work) against blacks moving in, since many whites did
    believe (wrongly) they were protecting their investments as well as their
    jobs.  That's the vote Wallace (George, that is) cultivated.  If you think
    Flint, it's not hard to see how unrestrained corporate greed (aka, the
    marketplace) led to a situation in which jobs were being moved out (they
    didn't just disappear--people fixed on profits moved them out) precisely at
    the same time that blacks were moving in, trying to get out of the racist
    and economically crumbling rural South.  It don't take a rocket scientist to
    understand how the "market" in such instances produces rather than
    alleviating economic disparities based on race.
        Not to recognize the continuing impact of these and many other
    institutional factors is, well, naive at best.  Someone else can name the
    worst case.  Paul

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