During the past several years the Black Lives Matter movement has been taken more seriously. Some, genuinely have made an effort to understand its preamble. It has evolved into social consciousness not seen in decades. One issue which has been highlighted from the movement is housing discrimination and how it was strategically used to keep non-whites from reaching their potential to secure home ownership.
Ever since African-Americans were emancipated from slavery strategies, initiatives and even public policy has been used to thwart their progress. Jim Crow was the moniker used to define that period. Even though it has been outlawed, to this day its remnants are still part of our environment. Racial Covenants was the legal process used to keep property from being sold to non-whites. Legislation from the civil rights era outlawed the practice, however even though non-whites or specifically African-Americans were eventually able to purchase property, a slew of other schemes were developed with the goal to create a negative impact.
One of those schemes was called “Blockbusting.” In simple terms it literally means to tear up the block or neighborhood. It was accomplished by telling white homeowners in urban areas to sell their properties to the blacks who were seeking improved housing. The whites were motivated to sell not from some benevolent position of integrating the neighborhood. The opposite; they were motivated to act so they could secure whatever favorable price they could achieve which allowed them to move out.
NPR just released an outstanding and more comprehensive article on this topic and others dealing with discrimination in home ownership.
From Donald Trump pulling the ultimate political hat trick of losing the House of Representatives, the Senate and the Presidency in four years to the Derek Chauvin verdict, to the treasonous behavior of those who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021 to the international sea of millions who adopted the Black Lives Matter moniker, our current environment is that of a social reckoning.
Racially-restrictive deeds were a ubiquitous part of real estate transactions. Covenants were embedded in property deeds all over the country to keep people who were not white from buying or even occupying land
Here in the United States a good many of our social ills deal with race and/or class. People who have been sleep a good portion of their life have awakened. Some ponder the question of the racial disparities placed right on their doorstep. Racism is an institutional construct. In other words the system was created and in many cases codified into law.
The wealth gap presents great data for our divide. On the other hand another element to maintain the gap was racial covenants regarding home or property ownership. They were a tried and true method to keep minorities, specifically those of African descent from purchasing property. It was a little secret but it was law (until in was struck down in 1968) and since it dealt with ownership or property rights, it was part of the official title record. Even though we are in 2021 and the majority of homeowners have no idea of its existence (I mean, who has the time or experience to read a title report?). But, if you ever have the time and look, it is there and its purpose was to legally restrict who could purchase property.
Today the Los Angeles Times explored the topic in greater detail. So, I would encourage you to educate yourself of how these elements created the racial disparities that is current social discussion is attempting to correct.
LOS ANGELES TIMES – THE UGLY AND TRUE HISTORY OF RACIAL COVENANTS