In her book Caste, Isabel Wilkerson describes this structure as a matrix or – artificial intelligence – a pre-programmed code that’s always at work in the background advantaging White people and steering resources away from Blacks. She describes this invisible mainframe as “a puppet master unseen by those whose subconscious it directs, its instructions an intravenous drip to the mind, caste in the guise of normalcy, injustice looking just, atrocities looking unavoidable to keep the machinery humming, the matrix…a facsimile for life itself.
Racial zoning and other tactics devised to exclude Blacks stem from the same cause: White superiority. Whites viewed Blacks as inferior and unfit to live together in the same community. Douglas S. Massey & Nancy A Denton explain in American Apartheid, “Middle-class whites were repelled by what they saw as uncouth manners, unclean habits, slothfulContinue reading “Making the Ghetto Part 3 – Perceptions and responses to the “invasion” of Blacks in cities”
Although Whites homeowners in the North used numerous organized methods to block the so-called assault by Blacks on their communities; organized resistance and violence were especially favored tactics. Between 1917 and 1921, there were 58 firebombing incidents. Many occurred during the summer of 1919 and several more continued for the next several decades in places like,Continue reading “Making the Ghetto Part 2 – Fear of “a colored man of means”: Strategies to Defend Housing Segregation in the North”
In far too many cases, zoning is being used to protect the narrow self-interest of a particular community without regard to the health, safety, and welfare of the community and the nation as a whole. 1971 U.S. Commission on Civil Rights excerpt (Keeanga-Yahmahtta Taylor, Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry UnderminedContinue reading “Making the Ghetto Part 1 – Ghetto Code: Racial Zoning and Spatial Isolation in American Cities”
With the recent reevaluation of racist images throughout American culture, from confederate statues to Aunt Jemina syrup and Uncle Ben’s rice, I took a look in my own closet to see what racist ghosts might still live. When I first graduated from college and got my first real job in Chicago, I set out to establish a professional business wardrobe. Like most young professionals, I wanted something that would set me apart with a certain sense of style. I thought — what’s more stylish than Brooks Brothers. The oldest clothing brand in the United States that’s outfitted presidents (Lincoln wore a Brooks Brothers suit to Ford Theatre the night he was assassinated and Barack Obama frequently stepped out in their brand – Figure 1). Brooks Brothers defined the look of diplomats and millionaires for generations, so of course I wanted that look. I later found however that the ageless style I was seeking was built on another tradition in American vogue — racism and slavery.
“Some of the ‘educated’ Negroes do not pay attention to such important matters as the assessment of property and the collection of taxes, and they do not inform themselves as to how these things are worked out.” – Carter G. Woodson, The Mis-Education of the Negro “…reorganizing the tax systems in the counties…that kind ofContinue reading “Hidden in Plain Sight – The Cook County property tax system and racial equity”