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Institutional Racism and White Privilege Dossier
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Institutional Racism and White Privilege

Institutional Racism Instructional

Using the concepts we've just defined I can offer a definition of racism.  Racism is a caste system of hierarchically ordered races that uses economic, political, kinship, and especially cultural practices to maintain the separation and hierarchy of races.

This instructional is about institutional racism in North America. 

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

Thinking through unacknowledged male privilege as a phenomenon, I realized that, since hierarchies in our society are interlocking, there are most likely a phenomenon, I realized that, since hierarchies in our society are interlocking, there was most likely a phenomenon of while privilege that was similarly denied and protected. As a white person, I realized I had been taught about racism as something that puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage.

I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege. So I have begun in an untutored way to ask what it is like to have white privilege. I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was "meant" to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools , and blank checks.

Describing white privilege makes one newly accountable. As we in women's studies work to reveal male privilege and ask men to give up some of their power, so one who writes about having white privilege must ask, "having described it, what will I do to lessen or end it?"

After I realized the extent to which men work from a base of unacknowledged privilege, I understood that much of their oppressiveness was unconscious. Then I remembered the frequent charges from women of color that white women whom they encounter are oppressive. I began to understand why we are just seen as oppressive, even when we don't see ourselves that way. I began to count the ways in which I enjoy unearned skin privilege and have been conditioned into oblivion about its existence.

My schooling gave me no training in seeing myself as an oppressor, as an unfairly advantaged person, or as a participant in a damaged culture. I was taught to see myself as an individual whose moral state depended on her individual moral will. My schooling followed the pattern my colleague Elizabeth Minnich has pointed out: whites are taught to think of their lives as morally neutral, normative, and average, and also ideal, so that when we work to benefit others, this is seen as work that will allow "them" to be more like "us."

Toward an Understanding of Prejudice and Racism

Prejudice by itself does not constitute racism, however. Neither does power by itself. But when people use their position of power, be it political or institutional, to reinforce their prejudices and to enforce them so that as a result of their racial prejudices the life chances, rights and opportunities of others are limited, the result is racism. Thus, the simplest definition of racism then is: Racism is prejudice plus power. On the basis of this definition, while all people can be prejudiced, only those who have power are really racist. African Americans, Latinos, Asians and American Indians‹the powerless in American society‹can be and often are most prejudiced toward Whites on an individual basis, but they are not racists at the structural, institutional level. Within this understanding of racism, to be a racist you have to possess two things: 1) socioeconomic power to force others to do what you desire even if they don't want to, and 2), the justification of this power abuse by an ideology of biological supremacy. Keep in mind that what often is described as racism in society today, is really nothing more than prejudice and discrimination. While a Black or Latino person, through the use of a gun and/or intimidation, can force a White person to do as he‹as an individual‹desires, this is an individual act of aggression, not a socially structured power arrangement. At present, however, only Whites have that kind of power, reinforced by a belief in an ideology of supremacy, both of which constitute the basis of racism in America today.

Losing What We Never Had: White Privilege and Deferred Dreams, Part One

The larger white society is getting ready to hold a party, to celebrate the end of racism, and lean back on their white privilege for the rest of their lives. It is an ongoing story of constant revision of history, and writing Black people out it. "It seems that every four years we see our struggle and needs ignored," writes the author, an historian. Presidential years are key to the revisionist project, they define the "new era." What follows is betrayal, as whites made up a feel-good version of history to justify their past actions.

Losing What We Never Had: White Privilege & the Deferred Dreams of Black America, Part 2

Modern political mythology, also believed by Blacks, maintains that Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and the post-World War Two college and housing benefits for veterans were unmitigated boons for African Americans. However, in many ways, the opposite is true. The New Deal, largely shaped to appease racist southern lawmakers, actually codified Black inferior status, while elevating poor whites. And returning Black veterans got only a tiny fraction of the benefits of the GI Bill. President Johnson's Sixties War on Poverty effectively lasted only three years –  at the end of which, the hopes of the Black poor were smashed.

Losing What We Never Had: White Privilege and the Deferred Dreams of Black America, Part Three

In the final installment of his series, the author debunks the mythology of "reverse racism" - a phrase that "needs to be done away with." Privileges accrued over centuries of Black subjugation translate into present-day white wealth and Black poverty. "Race-neutral" public policies amount to nothing less than change-resistant strategies by those who strive to continue the old order of Black over white - a society in which whites just out of prison are more likely to get a job than African Americans with no prison record. Lending and redlining practices suck billions of dollars out of the Black community, and mass incarceration effectively destroys the futures of successive generations of young people. But huge numbers of whites believe they are the ones who are getting a raw deal.



School Funding Equity

It is also abundantly clear that the funding disparity is a racial issue as well as an economic one. African American and Latino students are consistently over-represented in those districts that lack adequate funding for education, as is the case in Illinois. Although African Americans represent 14.8% of Illinois’ total population, they make up only 2.1% of the population in the state’s wealthiest county, while Illinois’ poorest county is 34.7% African American. (14) Of the nine states that have attained school funding equity, only two (Mississippi and Texas) have significant African American populations. This racial bias in educational resources can help to explain, amongst other things, lower SAT scores, grade point averages, and college achievement, as well as higher rates of remedial education amongst African American and other students of color. (15)

Internet Access in Public Schools and Classrooms 1994-1999

The proportion of public schools allowing students to access the Internet before school was lower in schools with the highest minority enrollment (60 percent) than in schools with the two lowest categories of minority enrollment (80 percent each) ( table 8 ). A similar pattern occurred by school poverty concentration (percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch). Fifty-four percent of schools with the highest poverty concentration had computers with Internet access available to students before school, compared with 82 percent and 80 percent of schools with the two lowest categories of poverty concentration.

Of the schools with a website in 2003, 73 percent reported that their website was updated at least monthly (table 15).17 Among the 27 percent of schools updating their website less often than monthly, differences were detected by instructional level, locale, minority enrollment, and poverty concentration. For example, schools with the highest minority enrollments were more likely than schools with lower minority enrollment to update their website less than monthly (45 percent compared with 18 to 25 percent). In addition, the likelihood of updating the website less than monthly increased with poverty concentration, from 18 percent of schools with the lowest poverty concentration to 44 percent of schools with the highest poverty concentration.

The Funding Gap 2005: Low-Income and Minority Students Shortchanged by Most States

Every year, thousands of American children enter school already behind. Most Americans are well aware of that fact.

What they often don’t know, however, is that instead of organizing our educational systems to make things better for these children, we organize our systems of public education in ways that make things worse. One way we do that is by simply spending less in schools serving high concentrations of low-income and minority children than we do on schools serving more affluent and White children.

In other words, we take children who have less to begin with and give them less in school, too. In the nation as a whole, we spend approximately $900 less per year on each student in the school districts with the most poor students than we do in the school districts with the fewest poor students -- a gap effectively unchanged over the six years that the Education Trust has examined state and local funding for education. Fortunately, not all states make the same choice. Indeed, some states -- Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Jersey among them -- have chosen to spend more on schools serving concentrations of poor children. But as this report shows, not enough states have made those kinds of choices.

This report is unique among funding equity reports in looking not at overall differences between school districts but, rather, on who wins and who loses as a result of state and local financing decisions. The Funding Gap looks at the outcomes of policy choices made in every state and documents that most states continue to shortchange the districts educating the greatest numbers of poor students and students of color.

"Savage Inequalities" Revisited

The conditions in this school illustrated a crisis of funding inequality in the U.S. public school system. In his 1991 book Savage Inequalities, Jonathan Kozol, a long-time critic of unequal education, famously exposed this crisis. He noted, for instance, that schools in the rich suburbs of New York City spent more than $ 11,000 per pupil in 1987, while those in the city itself spent only $5,500. The story was the same throughout the country: per-capita spending for poor students and students of color in urban areas was a fraction of that in richer, whiter suburbs just miles away.

Over ten years after Savage Inequalities was first published, how close has the U.S. public school system come to providing equitable funding for all students-funding that is at least equal between districts, or better yet, higher in poorer areas that have greater needs?

Not very far, according to a new report by the Washington, D.C.-based Education Trust. Entitled "The Funding Gap: Low-Income and Minority Students Receive Fewer Dollars," the report examines state and local expenditures in 15,000 school districts during 1999-2000. Since federal funds account for only 7% of public school resources, this study of state and local spending zeroes in on the source of funding inequality.

Testing, performance, achievement, discipline, and integration

Race and the Achievement Gap

These three studies taken together suggest three related explanations for the race gap in academic achievement and in test scores. First, are students' perceptions of the opportunities in the wider society and the realities of "making it." Second, are the educational opportunities available in the educational system itself — within school districts, schools, and each classroom. Third, are the cumulative psychic and emotional effects of living in a social world saturated with racist ideology, and where racist practices and structures are pervasive and often go unnamed.

Standardized Testing: The Interpretation of Racial and Ethnic Gaps

"Statistical studies have suggested that test scores reflect income and socioeconomic status. It has been demonstrated again and again that scores vary in relation to cultural background; the test's questions assume a certain uniformity in educational experience and lifestyle and penalize those who, for whatever reason, have had a different experience and lived different kinds of lives. In short, what is being measured by the SAT is not absolutes like native ability and merit but accidents like birth, social position, access to libraries, and the opportunity to take vacations or to take SAT prep courses."

We know that test scores go up with family income. They also improve with socioeconomic status. Both trends are observed within all ethnic and racial groups. But before you blame income and socioeconomic status for the test score gaps, consider this:

Black children from the wealthiest families have mean SAT scores lower than white children from families below the poverty line.

Figure 3 shows how math SAT scores increase with family income for both whites and blacks, confirming Professor Guinier. However, black students from families earning more than $70,000 (1995 dollars) score lower than white students whose families earned less than $10,000. Figure 4 shows more of the same for the verbal SAT. Here too, the wealthiest blacks score below the poorest whites. (Complete data can be found in Appendix B.)

Teacher Perceptions, Expectations, and Behaviors May Put Black Students at a Disadvantage

Why Might Teacher Expectations Affect Student Outcomes?

Ferguson says that there are several possible reasons why a teacher's expectations might (wittingly or unwittingly) affect the way a teacher behaves toward a student. He says that research shows that teachers tend to be less supportive of black students on average, perhaps because they have lower expectations. Because teachers are less supportive, they may actually help to cause the low performance that they already expect. Ferguson calls this a "self-fulfilling prophesy."

But why would teachers tend to be less supportive of black students? Ferguson discusses three different explanations:

Teachers perceive that young black students are less willing to put forth effort to succeed academically. Ferguson says that research shows that the largest differences in perception of student effort between the two groups occurs early in the elementary years. As students get older, teachers begin to perceive more similarity in the level of academic effort that black and white students put forth. However, the early perception that black students put forth less effort in their school work can affect the students' future educational experiences.

Low-performing black students may be perceived as "more difficult" than low-performing white students and so receive less teacher support. Additionally, higher performing black students may be perceived as "less difficult" than white students and so receive more teacher support. Ferguson says that research appears to support this view. "Difficult" students can be a hassle and distraction for teachers. Rather than spend their time attending to "trouble-makers,"teachers might prefer to spend time teaching students whom they perceive to be willing and interested in learning. Ferguson says that he believes "that on average, teachers probably prefer to teach whites, and on average they probably give whites more plentiful and unambiguous support." (pp. 298-299)

Black students may be at a disadvantage because of the "mismatch" between student and teacher race. In other words, black teachers may be more likely to give black students more support and attention than white teachers would. Ferguson says that this does not appear to be a central problem in the way teachers treat black students. In fact, he says, black teachers also appear to have similarly low expectations for black students.
Perhaps teacher expectations cause teachers to prefer teaching white students. Ferguson says that these possible explanations still do not tell us how much of a difference teacher preferences make for student outcomes.


This question was addressed somewhat in Jacqueline Jordan Irvine’s book Black Students And School Failure. She outlined eighteen studies where teachers’ attitudes toward and perceptions of black students was compared to those of white students. Researchers of these studies concluded that teachers had more negative attitudes and beliefs about black children than about white children in such variables as personality traits and characteristics, ability, language, behavior and potential.

In one study, Gottlieb (1964) asked black and white teachers from inner-city schools to rate the students they taught. These teachers were given a list of thirty-six adjectives and asked to select the adjectives that best described their students. Black teachers described the (black) students as happy, energetic and fun-loving; their white counterparts described the same students as talkative, lazy and rebellious.

Griffin and London (1979) administered a questionnaire to 270 black and white teachers in inner-city schools in which 90 percent or more of the children enrolled were members of minority groups. The researchers found that 64.6 percent of the black teachers considered minority students of average or better ability; 66.1 percent of the white teachers considered these same children to be of average or lesser ability.

Simpson and Erickson (1983) observed teachers’ verbal and nonverbal behaviors for the independent variables of student race, student gender and teacher gender. The white teachers directed more verbal praise, criticism, and nonverbal praise toward males than toward females. In contrast, they directed more nonverbal criticism toward black males than toward black females, white females or white males.

Aaron and Powell (1982) also found that black pupils received more negative academic and behavioral feedback than did white pupils. By far the most interesting study, in my opinion, was that of Meir, Steward and England (1988). In it an analysis was conducted of 173 large urban school districts and they found that as the proportion of black teachers in a school district increases, the proportion of black students assigned to special education classes, suspended, or expelled decreases.

These findings are not meant to suggest that all white teachers are incompetent in teaching black students or that all black teachers are exemplary educators of black children. However, these findings do indicate that, as a group, white teachers are more likely than black teachers to hold negative expectations for black students and for anyone to suggest that this has nothing to do whatsoever with the academic future of our children would be reprehensible. When 85 percent of this nation’s K-12 teachers are white and over 90 percent of its administrators are as well, the aforementioned findings become even more noteworthy.

School discipline, the “new” racist frontier

Now the Chicago Tribune shines further light on the magnitude of racism in school discipline across the country. The Tribune analyzed carefully hidden US Department of Education data that show tha, in 49 out of 50 states, black students are far more likely to suffer sever discipline [suspensions or expulsion] than are white students committing similar offenses.

As a result, across the country blacks are 3.1 times as likely as whites to be suspended and 2.9 times as likely to be expelled. In my state of Massachusetts, the rations are 2.4 and 2.7 respectively [see state breakdowns here].

While socioeconomic factors play a role, the disparities remained when socioeconomic status was statistically controlled.


Towards a non-Centric Curriculum

The curriculum is in fact "Eurocentric". This means that when it discusses the history and development of various fields and world culture in general, it dwells only on European contributions and influences. The curriculum in fact implicitly promotes racist ideas * namely, the idea that only Whites have the intellectual ability and intelligence to succeed in the sciences, as well as in the arts and humanities.

"Eurocentrism and its Avatars: The Dilemmas of Social Science"

Social science has been Eurocentric throughout its institutional history, which means since there have been departments teaching social science within university systems. This is not in the least surprising. Social science is a product of the modern world-system, and Eurocentrism is constitutive of the geoculture of the modern world. Furthermore, as an institutional structure, social science originated largely in Europe. We shall be using Europe here more as a cultural than as a cartographical expression; in this sense, in the discussion about the last two centuries, we are referring primarily and jointly to western Europe and North America. The social science disciplines were in fact overwhelmingly located, at least up to 1945, in just five countries - France, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, and the United States. Even today, despite the global spread of social science as an activity, the large ma- jority of social scientists worldwide remain Europeans. Social science emerged in response to European problems, at a point in history when Europe dominated the whole world-system. It was virtually inevitable that its choice of subject matter, its theorizing, its methodology, and its epistemology all re- flected the constraints of the crucible within which it was born.

Higher Education

Racial Equity and Higher Education

There is something terribly wrong with this picture. How could the issue have become so muddled that those opposed to affirmative action are actually winning the battle using "discrimination" as a rhetorical weapon, despite strong and persistent evidence of racial inequality? Each year, the U.S. Census Bureau reports the percentage of people over twenty-five who have completed four or more years of college, broken down by race. I have always considered this percentage the appropriate numerical benchmark of what we have in fact accomplished.

From 1940 to 1970, the rates of college graduation among non-Hispanic whites, blacks, and Hispanics rose slowly, but at a similar pace. Over the past thirty years, access to higher education has increased markedly; however, the biggest gains have been made by whites, not by Hispanics or blacks, as opponents of affirmative action would have us believe. See Figure 1.

Racism Without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States

An examination of empirical data reveals that racial inequality in higher education is still a serious problem, and thus it is urgent for the Supreme Court expressly to recognize racial inequality in higher [*PG450]education.47 Although many in white America may believe that the gap between whites and blacks in higher education has all but closed during the recent era of court-sanctioned affirmative action, the numbers continue to show a gap in access to colleges and universities between these two racial groups.48 According to the Department of Education, despite the fact that almost one-half of all whites believe that blacks have attained education levels equal to that of whites, only 16% of all black adults are college-educated as opposed to 28% of adult whites.49 The United States is still a nation where the number of incarcerated black men substantially outweighs the number of black men in colleges and universities.50

Health and Healthcare

The Institute of Medicine
Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care

"Racial and ethnic minorities tend to receive a lower quality of healthcare than non-minorities, even when access-related factors, such as patients' insurance status and income, are controlled. The sources of these disparities are complex, are rooted in historic and contemporary inequities, and involve many participants at several levels, including health systems, their administrative and bureaucratic processes, utilization managers, healthcare professionals, and patients."

Spectre of racism in health and health care: lessons from history and the United States

These inequalities are not wholly a result of differences in socioeconomic circumstances. 4 5 38 39 Escarce et al explained their finding that white patients were more likely than black patients to receive services in terms of the following factors: different disease patterns; different level of contact with doctors, especially specialists; financial and organisational barriers; patients' preferences; and the fact that doctors managed their patients differently on the basis of race.40

The difficulty in interpreting these findings is considered in the context of heart disease, which has been studied in detail. Differences between black and white patients have been publicised since 1984.33 As the box shows, white patients in the United States receive more intensive medical attention in the treatment of heart disease than do black patients.

Racism and Healthcare in America: Legal Responses to Racial Disparities in the Allocation of Kidneys

Research also reveals that, on average, African Americans receive less aggressive treatment for various physical ailments even after income adjustments are made to the data.103 For instance, studies pertaining to cardiac treatment reveal that African-American men are half as likely to undergo coronary angiography and one third as likely to undergo coronary artery bypass surgery as European-American men.104 These astonishing statistics are even more troubling in light of the fact that African-American males are more likely to suffer from heart disease than European-American males.105

Studies also indicate that the intensity of treatment within the realm of internal medicine is influenced by racial considerations.106 Even after income differentials are taken into account, research reveals that African-American patients are less likely to be treated aggressively for illnesses and/or conditions such as pneumonia, kidney failure, and glaucoma than European Americans.107 The Journal of the American Medical Association also reports that African-American women have fewer cesarean sections than European-American women even when researchers account for the degree of clinical difficulty of [*PG47]the childbirth(s).108 Within the mental health sector of health care, treatment disparities based on race also exist.109 For example, African Americans are less frequently considered viable patients for psychotherapy, are more likely to be cared for by an inexperienced therapist and are treated for shorter periods of time, and less intensively, than European-American mental health patients.110

Research indicates that, after adjusting for income, some procedures are in fact performed with greater frequency on African-American patients than on European Americans suffering from the same ailments.111 Unfortunately, those procedures are of the type that most people, regardless of race, would hope to avoid undergoing.112 For example, African Americans are three times more likely than European Americans to have a partial or total amputation of the leg.113 Similarly, African-American men are twice as likely to have a bilateral orchietomy in attempts to treat prostate cancer than European-American men.114 The implications of this research indicate that the medical profession may detect certain illnesses in African Americans at more advanced stages.115 As a consequence, less invasive and less drastic treatment measures are no longer viable.116

Environmental Racism and Biased Methods of Risk Assessment

Many studies support the CRJ conclusions. U.S. minorities disadvantaged in terms of education, income and occupation bear a disproportionate environmental risk.2 Socioeconomically deprived groups are more likely than affiuent whites to live near polluting facilities,3 eat contaminated fish4 and be employed at risky occupations.5 Because minorities are statistically more likely to be economically disadvantaged, many researchers assert that "environmental racism" -- racial bias in imposing environmental threats -- is the central cause of disparities in risks that minorities face.6 Indeed, some have argued that race is an independent factor, not reducible to socioeconomic status, in predicting the distribution of air pollution, contaminated fish consumption, municipal landfills and incinerators, abandoned toxic waste dumps and lead poisoning in children.7 Yet, whether race or socioeconomic status is the main cause of such inequities is still debated. Because they are more likely to be poor, minorities are also more likely to be politically disenfranchised. Thus, they are typically less able to fight unwanted risks. This disability could explain the disproportionate share of environmental threats that minorities appear to bear. It is not necessary, however, to settle whether race or socioeconomic status is a greater cause of environmental inequities. Regardless of the precise cause, there is evidence of racist bias in environmental decisionmaking, as this essay shows.

Poverty, Pollution, and Environmental Racism


Toxic Foods. The United States has one of the safest food supplies in the world. Still, Food borne diseases cause approximately 76 million illnesses, 325 000 hospitalizations, and 5 000 deaths in the U.S. each year. [69] Known food borne pathogens account for 14 million of the illnesses, 60,000 hospitalizations and 1,800 deaths. [70] Unknown agents account for approximately 81% of food borne illnesses and hospitalizations and 64% of deaths. [71]

Number One Environmental Threat to Children. In many African cities, childhood lead poisoning can be as high as 90 percent. Even in the United States, lead poisoning continues to be the number one environmental health threat to children, especially poor children, children of color, and children living in inner cities. [72] Lead poisoning affects an estimated 890,000 American preschoolers or 4.4 percent of the under 5 age group. [73] African children are five times more likely to be poisoned than white children. Some 22 percent of African American children living in pre-1946 housing are lead poisoned, compared with 5.6 percent of white children and 13 percent of Mexican American living in older homes.

Geography of Air Pollution. The number of automobiles is increasing three times faster than the rate of population growth. According to National Argonne Laboratory researchers, 57 percent of whites, 65 percent of African Americans, and 80 percent of Hispanics live in 437 counties with substandard air quality. [74] In the heavily populated Los Angeles air basin, the South Coast Air Quality Management District estimates that 71 percent of African Americans and 50 percent of Latinos live in areas with the most polluted air, compared to 34 percent of whites. Air pollution costs Americans $10 to $200 billion a year. [75]

Asthma Epidemic. The number of asthma sufferers doubled from 6.7 million in 1980 to 17.3 million in 1998. [76] Over 4.8 asthma sufferers are children. [77] Asthma hits poor, inner-city dwellers, and people of color hardest. African Americans and Latino are almost three times more likely than whites to die from asthma. [78] In 1995, more than 5,000 Americans died from asthma. [79] The hospitalization rate for African Americans and Latinos is 3 to 4 times the rate for whites. [80] The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that asthma accounts for more than 10 million lost school days, 1.2 million emergency room visits, 15 million outpatient visits, and over 500,000 hospitalizations each year. Asthma cost Americans over $14.5 billion in 2000. [81]

Toxic Wastes and Race. Nationally, three out of five African Americans and Latino Americans live in communities with abandoned toxic waste sites. [82] Discrimination influences land use, housing patterns, and infrastructure development. Zoning ordinances, deed restrictions, and other land-use mechanisms have been widely used as a "NIMBY" [83] (not in my backyard) tool, operating through exclusionary practices. [84] The U.S. General Accounting Office estimates that there are between 130,000 and 450,000 brownfields [85] (abandoned waste sites) scattered across the urban landscape from New York to California. Most of these brownfields are located in or near low-income, working class, and people of color communities. [86]

Toxic Housing. A 2000 study by The Morning News and the University of Texas-Dallas found that some 870,000 of the 1.9 million (46 percent) housing units for the poor, mostly minorities, sit within about a mile of factories that reported toxic emissions to the Environmental Protection Agency. [87] Homeowners have been the most effective groups to use "NIMBY" (Not in My Back Yard) tactics and practices in keeping locally unwanted land uses (LULUs) out of their back yards and communities. However, racial discrimination prevents millions of people of color from enjoying the advantages of home ownership. A little over 46 percent of African Americans and Latinos own their homes compared with 73 percent of whites in 1999. If blacks and Hispanics owned homes at the same rate as whites of similar age and income, their homeownership rates would have been 61 percent in 1998 versus 72 percent for whites. [88] African American and Latino American households, on average, must pay discrimination "tax" of roughly $3,700. [89]

Toxic Schools. More than 600,000 students in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Michigan and California were attending nearly 1,200 public schools that are located within a half mile of federal Superfund or state-identified contaminated sites. [90] No state except California has a law requiring school officials to investigate potentially contaminated property and no federal or state agency keeps records of public or private schools that operate on or near toxic waste or industrial sites. [91]

Toxic Jobs. Farm work is the second most dangerous occupation in the United States. Farm workers suffer from the highest rate of chemical injuries of any workers in the United States. EPA estimates that pesticide exposure causes farmworkers and their families to suffer between 10,000 to 20,000 immediate illnesses annually, and additional thousands of illnesses later in life. [92] Of the 25 most heavily used agricultural pesticides, 5 are toxic to the nervous system; 18 are skin, eye, or lung irritants, 11 have been classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as cancer-causing; 17 cause genetic damage; and 10 cause reproductive problems (in test of laboratory animals). [93] Annual use of the pesticides causing each of these types of health problems totals between one and four hundred million pounds. [94]

Farms employing less than 10 workers are exempt from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Over 85% of migrant farm workers work on farms with fewer than 10 employees. Over 80% of migrant farm workers in the U.S. are Latinos. An estimated 250,000 children of farm workers in the U.S. migrate each year, and 90,000 of them migrate across an international borders; half of all migrant children have worked in fields still wet with pesticide and more than one third have been sprayed directly; over 72.8% of migrant children are completely without health insurance.

An estimated of 137 American workers die from job-related diseases every day. [95] This is more than eight times the number of workers who die from job-related accidents. Fear of unemployment acts as a potent incentive for many workers to stay in and accept jobs that are health threatening. This practice amounts to "economic blackmail." Workers are often forced to choose between unemployment and a job that may result in risks to their health, their family's health, and the health of their community.

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that more than half of the country's 22,000 sewing shops violate minimum wage and overtime laws. [96] Many of these workers labor in dangerous conditions including blocked fire exits, unsanitary bathrooms, and poor ventilation. Government surveys also reveal that 75% of U.S. garment shops violate safety and health laws. [97]

Military Toxics. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has left its nightmarish nuclear weapons garbage on Native lands and the Pacific Islands. In fact, "over the last 45 years, there have been 1,000 atomic explosions on Western Shoshone land in Nevada, making the Western Shoshone the most bombed nation on earth." [98] Over 648 U.S. military installations, both active and abandoned, in Alaska are polluting the land, groundwater, wetlands, streams and air with extensive fuel spill, pesticides, solvents, PCBs, dioxins, munitions, and radioactive materials. Many of these military installations are in close proximity to Alaska Native villages and traditional hunting and fishing areas. Military toxics threaten the way of life of Alaska Natives.

The U.S. Navy has used the tiny island of Vieques, Puerto Rico as a bombing range since 1941. [99] Fifty years of military exercises including the use of bombs, artillery shells, depleted uranium ordnance, and napalm have left local communities with serious health problems and destroyed ecosystems. Nearly three-fourths of the island's 9,000 residents live in poverty. Soils are degraded and contaminated, and both Navy and independent testing of bombing areas have found at least 10 toxic constituents including metals, benzene, and chloroform.

Radioactive Colonialism. There is a direct correlation between exploitation of land and exploitation of people. It should not be a surprise to anyone to discover that Native Americans have to contend with some of the worst pollution in the United States. Native American nations have become prime targets for waste trading. [100] The vast majority of these waste proposals have been defeated by grassroots groups on the reservations. However, "radioactive colonialism" is alive and well. Winona LaDuke sums up this "toxic invasion" of Native lands as follows:

While Native peoples have been massacred and fought, cheated, and robbed of their historical lands, today their lands are subject to some of most invasive industrial interventions imaginable. According to the Worldwatch Institute, 317 reservations in the United States are threatened by environmental hazards, ranging from toxic wastes to clearcuts.

Reservations have been targeted as sites for 16 proposed nuclear waste dumps. Over 100 proposals have been floated in recent years to dump toxic waste in Indian communities. Seventy-seven sacred sites have been disturbed or desecrated through resource extraction and development activities. The federal government is proposing to use Yucca Mountain, sacred to the Shone, a dumpsite for the nation's high-level nuclear waste. [101]

Radioactive colonialism operates in energy production (mining of uranium) and disposal of wastes on Indian lands. The legacy of institutional racism has left many sovereign Indian nations without an economic infrastructure to address poverty, unemployment, inadequate education and health care, and a host of other social problems.

Eastern Navajo reservation residents have been struggling to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission form permitting a uranium mine in Church Rock and Crown Point, New Mexico. The Mohave tribe in California, Skull Valley Goshutes in Idaho, and Western Shoshone in Yucca Mountain, Nevada are currently fighting proposals to build radioactive waste dumps on their tribal lands. Native and indigenous people all cross the globe are threatened with extinction due to the greed of mining and oil companies and "development genocide." A growing grassroots multiracial transnational movement has emerged to counter this form of environmental racism. [102]

Climate Justice. Climate justice looms as major environmental justice issue of the 21st century. [103] The United States emits one quarter of the world's gases that cause global warming. People of color are concentrated in cities that failed EPA's ambient air quality standards. Global warming is expected to double the number of cities that currently exceed air quality standards. A study of the fifteen largest American cities found that climate change would increase heat-related deaths by at least 90 percent. People of color are twice as likely to die in a heat wave. Global warming will increase the number of flood, drought and fire occurrences worldwide. Also, low-income people typically lack insurance to replace possessions lost in storms and floods. Only 25 percent of renters have renters insurance. Climate change will reduce discretionary spending because prices will rise across the board. Poor families will have to spend even more on food and electricity, which already represent a large proportion of their budgets. Indigenous people are losing traditional medicinal plants to a warming climate, and subsistence households are suffering from the loss of species that are unable to adapt.


How the Right Rationalizes Racial Inequality in America

Fact is, earnings gaps persist at all levels of education. According to Census data, whites with high school diplomas, college degrees or Master's Degrees all earn approximately twenty percent more than their black counterparts. Even more striking, whites with professional degrees (such as medicine or law) earn, on average, thirty-one percent more than similar blacks and fifty-two percent more than similar Latinos.

Even when levels of work experience are the same between blacks and whites, the racial wage gap remains between 10-20 percent.

Looking at whites and blacks of similar age, doing the same work, earnings gaps remain significant. Among 25-34 year olds, white lawyers, computer programmers, and carpenters earn, on average, about one-fourth more than comparable blacks; white doctors and accountants earn, on average, one-third more than comparable blacks; and even white janitors earn sixteen percent more, on average, than comparable blacks.

MLK Day Report Shows Greater Disparity Between Black and White

Among the more disturbing findings: Unemployment among blacks is more than double that for whites, 10.8 percent versus 5.2 percent in 2003 -- a wider gap than in 1972. Black infant mortality is also greater today than in 1970. In 2001, the black infant mortality rate was 14 deaths per 1,000 live births, 146 percent higher than the white rate. The gap in infant mortality rates was 37 percent less in 1970.

Black Americans have also made little progress compared to whites in terms of income. According to the report, for every dollar of white income, African Americans had 55 cents in 1968. Thirty-three years later, in 2001, the gap had only closed by two cents. The report notes that, at this pace, it would take 581 years to achieve income parity.

According to the report, the average black college graduate will earn $500,000 less in his or her lifetime than an average white college graduate. Black high school graduates working full-time from age 25 to 64, will earn $300,000 less on average.

Avis Jones-DeWeever, study director for poverty and welfare issues at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a private research organization that has studied the racial disparities of welfare reform, found the wealth disparities -- measured by net worth, including income and assets, minus debts -- even more troubling. "[Blacks] might not be cash poor, but they might be wealth poor," she said.

The report indicates that many black Americans are indeed "wealth poor." The average black family in 2001 had a net worth of just $19,000, including home equity, compared with $121,000 for whites. Blacks also had just 16 percent of the median wealth of whites, up from five percent in 1989. At this rate, it would take until 2099 to reach median wealth parity.

"It’s very discouraging," Jones-DeWeever said. "In the 1990s, there was an increase in the black middle class, but these families still are not secure. They don’t have that wealth to serve as a Band-Aid in times of economic distress."

In related areas, like health, conditions for black Americans as a group continue to improve slowly, or not at all. In addition to the widening racial gap in infant mortality rates, the report said blacks have a nearly six-year gap in average life expectancy, having narrowed the gap only 1.81 years in the past three decades.

State of the Dream 2007

Increasing Minimum Wage:
The proposal would increase the minimum wage by 70 cents three times during the next three years. If the same increase of 70 cents were approved every single year after that, a minimum wage worker, supporting a family of three, still would not rise above the poverty level until 2013.

Workers earning less than $7.25 an hour (the proposed minimum wage at the end of the next three years) are disproportionately African American and Latino. While white non-Hispanic workers are 69 percent of the overall workforce, they are only 59 percent of those earning under $7.25 an hour. African Americans are 11 percent of the workforce but 16 percent of workers under $7.25; for Latinos the numbers are 14 percent and 21 percent. But higher unemployment rates and the loss of union jobs undercut the gains from raising the minimum wage.

Reducing College Loan Debt:
The $5,600 saved by typical college students will not help African American and Latino students as much as white students. Black families have only 15 percent of the wealth of white families resulting in less capacity to handle debt; moreover Black college graduates on the average earn half as much as the overall population of college graduates over their lifetimes, making college debt burdens more onerous for non-whites.

Decreasing Prescription Costs for Medicare:
The government will save money on the subsidized drugs purchased for low-income seniors. Beyond that it mostly serves middle-income seniors by reducing their out of pocket costs, a group disproportionately made up of whites. For very low-income seniors of color, Medicaid benefits may have been just as good or better.

Early indications with Medicare Part D suggest that the complexity of the program has led to low participation rates among low-income seniors, particularly seniors of color. Therefore, Congress’ second pledge, to simplify Medicare Part D by offering an option directly administered by Medicare, is vital to closing racial disparities in access to drugs.

Reducing Oil Subsidies, Investing in Alternative Energy Research:
Of 153,725 jobs created in 2005 by the ethanol industry, our analysis using the most generous methodology estimates that the upper bound of the number of jobs that went to Blacks is only 13,835. The industry is located in the Midwest; the largest concentrations of African Americans and Latinos are in the South and Southwest.

New incentives for the education of scientists, engineers, and mathematicians will not benefit students of color without specific funds for affirmative action programs. Currently, only 6.2 percent of graduate degrees in these fields go to African Americans and 4.1 percent to Latinos.

The Hidden Cost of Being African American

Wealth is the sum of the important assets a person or family owns -- home equity, pension funds, savings accounts and investments. Wealth is better than income because it is durable. People use income to meet daily expenses, whereas wealth accumulates. People who have wealth tap it only to deal with emergencies or to take advantage of opportunities -- opportunities that usually build more wealth.

Wealth passes down from generation to generation. The main reason African Americans are currently worse off than whites, according to Shapiro, is that today's African Americans inherited less wealth from their parents than today's whites did. It is not hard to see why: The generation of African Americans now passed away accumulated less wealth because discrimination in their day kept most of them poor and denied them opportunities other Americans enjoyed.

The disparity in wealth not only persists, it mushrooms. Without a cushion of inherited wealth, emergencies hit harder, and people who have no nest egg have to let opportunities pass by. Because of the wealth deficit, African Americans find themselves more vulnerable to shocks and less able to capitalize on breaks than whites with the same income. So the next generation will inherit less, too. The wealth gap will not close anytime soon.

Wealth of a White Nation: Blacks Sink Deeper in Hole

The median net worth of an African American household is about $6,000, while white households wield 14 times as much wealth: more than $88,000. The disastrous details are contained in a report on wealth disparities by the Pew Hispanic Center, "The Wealth of Hispanic Households: 1996 to 2002," but the worst news is for Blacks, one-third of whom have no assets or a negative net worth.

The bottom fell out of Black wealth accumulation in the deep recession of 2000 - 2001, a downturn that hurt all ethnic groups, but from which whites and Hispanics rapidly rebounded. Whites recouped their losses from the recession and fattened their holdings by 17 percent between 1996 and 2002. Hispanics boosted their meager household wealth to about $7,900 during that period - still only one eleventh of white households, but almost fully recovering the 27 percent loss they suffered at the turn of the 21st century. Blacks also lost 27 percent of their net worth in 2000 - 2001, but got back only 5 percent in 2002. These African American losses appear near-permanent, the result of the deindustrialization of the United States - the destruction of the Black blue-collar workforce.

Hispanics, clustered in the low wage service sector, suffered less lasting effects. However, for African Americans, the worst news just keeps on coming, the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow discrimination. As Roderick Harrison, a researcher at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, told the Associated Press: "Wealth is a measure of cumulative advantage or disadvantage. The fact that black and Hispanic wealth is a fraction of white wealth also reflects a history of discrimination."

Initial Conditions at Emancipation: the Long-Run Effect on Black-White Wealth and Earnings Inequality

What are the causes of these different economic outcomes for blacks and whites? What has driven the dynamics of black-white inequality since Emancipation? Perhaps the most fundamental historical economic difference between blacks and whites in the United States is that almost all black households had zero wealth at the time of Emancipation. In addition, by 1835 formal education of slaves was illegal in every Southern state. Thus, by the beginning of the Civil War 95% of the black Southern population was completely illiterate (Smith, 1984). In addition to initial conditions, it is argued that discrimination in public schooling expenditures has negatively impacted black human capital levels. Since Reconstruction there have been significant disparities in the quality of public schooling available to blacks relative to whites. This paper will attempt to quantify the effects of (i) “initial conditions” of human capital and non-human wealth, (ii) subsequent black-white school spending differences, and (iii) black-white differences in human capital investment on the paths of black-white wealth and earnings inequality.

Doubly Divided: The Racial Wealth Gap

African Americans and other minorities hold far less wealth than whites. But why should the wealth gap be so large, greater even than the racial income gap? It turns out that government has played a central role. Throughout U.S. history, countless specific laws, policies, rules, and court decisions have made it more difficult for nonwhites to build wealth, and transferred wealth they did own to whites.
Judicial System, Law, and Law Enforcement

Racial Profiling:

Media Blackface: "Racial Profiling" in News Reporting

There is need for a broader understanding of "racial profiling." As a general concept and not just a specific police policy, racial profiling may best be understood as the politically acceptable and very American practice of defining a social problem in "blackface"--i.e., in racial terms--through indirect association. Once portrayed in blackface, the "blackness" of the problem encourages suspicion, polarizing antagonism, and typically leads to the targeting of the racial group for punitive (public policy) action.

The link between the stereotypical profile and the public policy is key. In police racial profiling it is direct: Individual officers act on racial stereotypes against racial minorities, especially African-Americans. But when it comes to the news media, the racial profiles projected are indirectly related to punitive public policies, thus giving the mainstream news media the "out" of deniability. When the news media over-represents the number of black people in the category that is at issue, the issue becomes "black," stigmatized, linked to some form of always-justified politically punishing behavior, and, in turn, further racialized.

Department of Justice Statistics Show Clear Pattern of Racial Profiling

“These findings demonstrate clear and significant racial disparities in the way in which motorists are treated once they have been stopped by law enforcement. The report found that blacks and Hispanics were roughly three times as likely to be searched during a traffic stop, blacks were twice as likely to be arrested and blacks were nearly four times as likely to experience the threat or use of force during interactions with the police.

“And while the Department of Justice says that the higher rate of searches of blacks and Hispanics is not necessarily the result of racial bias, it begs a critical question: why are blacks and Hispanics subject to searches disproportionately? It’s a question that needs to be answered.

“Moreover, there was a significant figure left out of this report – the racial breakdown of the number of searches that resulted in the discovery of illegal contraband. Previous reports demonstrated that while black and Hispanic drivers were more likely than whites to be searched by law enforcement during traffic stops, they were less likely to be harboring contraband.  In 2005 the Justice Department went so far as to try to conceal these numbers. They even demoted the official, Lawrence A. Greenfeld, who compiled them. This report makes no mention of the racial breakdown of the hit rate. It’s an eerie silence and the Justice Department needs to explain why this is not in the report.”

The Stories, the Statistics, and the Law: Why "Driving While Black" Matters

This type of thinking means that anyone who is African-American is automatically suspect during every drive to work, the store, or a friend's house. Suspicion is not focused on individuals who have committed crimes, but on a whole racial group. Skin color becomes evidence, and race becomes a proxy for general criminal propensity. Aside from the possibility of suing a police department for these practices - a mammoth undertaking, that should only be undertaken by plaintiffs with absolutely clean records and the thickest skin - there is no relief available.

Reporter Victim of Racial Profiling is Cleared, Hundreds of Thousands of Innocent Black New Yorkers Stopped by NYPD in 2007

A Bronx Criminal Court judge has dismissed charges against a black New York Post reporter who was the victim of racial profiling by NYPD officers. The dismissal came on the same day that the NYPD quietly released figures showing that police made nearly half a million stops in 2007, most of which were of black and Latino New Yorkers.

Incarceration and Sentencing:

Prison and Jail Inmates At Midyear 2006

Incarceration is not an equal opportunity punishment
On December 31, 2005, there were 2,193,798 people in U.S. prisons and jails. The United States incarcerates a greater share of its population, 737 per 100,000 residents, than any other country on the planet. But when you break down the statistics you see that incarceration is not an equal opportunity punishment.

U.S. incarceration rates by race, June 30, 2006:

Whites: 409 per 100,000
Latinos: 1,038 per 100,000
Blacks: 2,468 per 100,000
Gender is an important "filter" on the who goes to prison or jail, June 30, 2006:

Females: 134 per 100,000
Males: 1,384 per 100,000
Look at just the males by race, and the incarceration rates become even more frightening, June 30, 2006:

White males: 736 per 100,000
Latino males: 1,862 per 100,000
Black males: 4,789 per 100,000
If you look at males aged 25-29 and by race, you can see what is going on even clearer, June 30, 2006:

For White males ages 25-29: 1,685 per 100,000.
For Latino males ages 25-29: 3,912 per 100,000.
For Black males ages 25-29: 11,695 per 100,000. (That's 11.7% of Black men in their late 20s.)
Or you can make some international comparisons:
South Africa under Apartheid was internationally condemned as a racist society.

South Africa under apartheid (1993), Black males: 851 per 100,000
U.S. under George Bush (2006), Black males: 4,789 per 100,000
What does it mean that the leader of the "free world" locks up its Black males at a rate 5.8 times higher than the most openly racist country in the world?

Racial Disparity In Sentencing

Direct Racial Discrimination
Key findings:

There is evidence of direct racial discrimination (against minority defendants in sentencing outcomes);
Evidence of direct discrimination at the federal level is more prominent than at the state level;
Blacks are more likely to be disadvantaged in terms of sentence length at the federal level, whereas Latinos are more likely to be disadvantaged in terms of the decision to incarcerate;
At the state level, both Latinos and blacks are far more likely to be disadvantaged in the decision to incarcerate or not, as opposed to the decision regarding sentence length.
Interaction of race/ethnicity with other offender characteristics

Key findings:

Young black and Latino males tend to be sentenced more severely than comparably situated white males;
Unemployed black males tend to be sentenced more severely than comparably situated white males.
Interaction and indirect effects of race/ethnicity and process-related factors

Key findings:

Blacks pay a higher “trial penalty” than comparably situated whites;
Whites receive a larger reduction in sentence time than blacks and Latinos for providing “substantial assistance” to the prosecution;
Blacks and Latinos with a more serious criminal record tend to be sentenced more severely than comparably situated whites;
Blacks are more likely to be jailed pending trial, and therefore tend to receive harsher sentences;
Whites are more likely to hire a private attorney than Latinos or blacks, and therefore receive a less severe sentence.
Interaction of race of the offender with race of the victim

Key findings:

Black defendants who victimize whites tend to receive more severe sentences than both blacks who victimize other blacks (especially acquaintances), and whites who victimize whites.
Interaction of race/ethnicity and type of crime

Key findings:

Latinos and blacks tend to be sentenced more harshly than whites for lower-level crimes such as drug crimes and property crimes;
However, Latinos and blacks convicted of high-level drug offenses also tend to be more harshly sentenced than similarly situated whites.
Capital punishment

Key findings:

In the vast majority of cases, the race of the victim tends to have an effect on the sentence outcome, with white victim cases more often resulting in death sentences;
However, in some jurisdictions, notably in the federal system, the race of the defendant also affects sentencing outcomes, with minority defendants more likely to receive a death sentence than white defendants.

School and Prisons: 50 Years After Brown vs. Board of Education

Crime Rates – Higher rates of involvement in some crimes explains part of the high rate of black imprisonment. For property offenses, blacks constituted 29.6% of arrests in 2002 and for violent offenses, 38%; these compare to the 12.3% black proportion of the total population. (Note that an arrest may not always be an accurate indicator of involvement in crime, but it often remains the best means of approximating this measure.) However, criminologist Alfred Blumstein, in a study on race and imprisonment, noted that higher arrest rates for drug crimes in particular were not correlated with higher rates of use in the general population. In short, drug arrest patterns were not a reliable indicator of drug offending, because African Americans are arrested more frequently than their rate of drug use would suggest.3 What appears to be a race-based relation for some offenses is in many respects one of social class. Youth surveys document that a significant proportion of teenage males of all races have engaged in serious crime. These rates drop much more sharply by the early 20s for whites than blacks, due to more ready access to adult roles – employment, college education, and stable relationships. Further, researchers have identified not just poverty, but concentrated poverty, as a significant contributor to crime rates due to the socioeconomic disadvantages it brings. Housing patterns in the U.S. often result in low-income African Americans living in concentrated poverty, but poor whites and other groups are rarely found in such situations.

Rising Imprisonment – Much of the rising incarceration of African Americans mirrors the dramatic increases in imprisonment overall since 1970. From a combined prison and jail population of about 330,000, the nation’s incarcerated population has now increased to 2.1 million. This increase is largely attributable to the adoption of “get tough” policies that emphasize harsher sentencing practices, rather than any significant increases in crime rates. An examination of the growth of the prison population from 1992 to 2001 found that the entire increase was explained not by crime rates, but by an increased likelihood that convicted offenders would be sentenced to prison and by longer prison terms.4

War on Drugs – Two overlapping trends since 1980 have contributed to a substantial increase in the number of African Americans in prison. First, the inception of the war on drugs has resulted in a dramatic surge in the number of incarcerated persons, rising from about 40,000 persons awaiting trial or serving a sentence for a drug charge in 1980 to about 450,000 today. The current figure is only slightly less than the total number of incarcerated persons for all offenses in 1980. Second, the prosecution of the drug war has disproportionately affected communities of color. Surveys conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services estimate that blacks constitute 13.3% of monthly drug users, yet blacks represent 32.5% of persons arrested for drug offenses.5 Of all persons imprisoned for drug offenses, three fourths are black or Latino. These disparities result in large part through a two-tiered application of the drug war. In communities with substantial resources, drug abuse is primarily addressed as a public health problem utilizing prevention and treatment approaches. In low-income communities those resources are in short supply and drug problems are more likely to be addressed through the criminal justice system.

Crack/Cocaine Sentencing – Federal legislation adopted in 1986 and 1988 provides for far harsher punishment of crack cocaine offenders than powder cocaine offenders, even though crack is a derivative of powder cocaine. Persons convicted of selling 500 grams of powder cocaine are subject to a mandatory five-year prison term; for crack cocaine, the same penalty is triggered by possession of just five grams of the drug. Enforcement of these laws has resulted in African Americans constituting 83% of crack defendants in 2001, despite the fact that approximately two-thirds of users in the general population are white. This represents a policy decision by agencies in the criminal justice system to pursue the “war on drugs” using tactics that have a detrimental impact on the African American community. In addition, 14 states also maintain disparities in their sentencing differentials between crack and
powder cocaine. Widespread concern about these disparities led the U.S. Sentencing Commission to recommend the elimination of the sentencing differential in 1995. This recommendation was overwhelmingly rejected by Congress and the Clinton Administration. A subsequent effort to revise the penalty structure in 2002 was opposed by the Bush Administration’s Department of Justice.

“School Zone” Drug Laws – In recent years many states have adopted “school zone” drug enhancement laws that increase penalties for drug crimes committed near a school. These laws, intended to deter drug-selling to school children, have in practice contributed to extreme racial/ethnic disparities, primarily due to housing patterns. In urban areas, large proportions of most cities are within the typical 1,000-1,500 foot range of these sanctions, whereas in suburban or rural communities, far fewer locations fall within this limit. Since African Americans disproportionately live in urban areas, any such crime (even a drug sale between consenting adults at 3 a.m. near a school) will produce these enhanced penalties. In one recent year, 99% of the juveniles automatically prosecuted as adults in Cook County (Chicago), Illinois under the school zone law were black and Latino.

“Three Strikes” and Habitual Offender Policies – Sentencing legislation that imposes harsher prison terms on offenders with prior convictions exerts a disproportionate effect on African Americans. Judges have always had the ability to impose lengthier terms on repeat offenders, but this effect has been magnified through policies such as habitual offender laws and “three strikes and you’re out” legislation. Whether one believes that African Americans are more likely to engage in crime or are subject to racial profiling and other discriminatory forms of decisionmaking, the result is that African Americans are more likely to have a prior criminal record than other groups. Therefore, policies that impose harsher penalties based on criminal history will have a disproportionate effect on African Americans. In California, for example, blacks constitute 29% of the prison population, but 44.7% of the persons serving a “three strikes” sentence.6 These disparities take on added significance due to the extreme disparities created by such policies. A non-violent offense in California that might otherwise lead to no more than a few years in prison becomes a sentence of 25 years to Life when treated as a third strike offense.

Inadequate Defense Resources – Forty years after the historic Gideon decision guaranteeing right to counsel in criminal cases, the state of indigent defense remains highly inadequate in many areas of the country. An estimated 80% of criminal defendants are indigent and a 2000 report by the Department of Justice declared that public defense was in a “chronic state of crisis.” In Virginia, for example, the maximum payment for attorneys representing a defendant
in a felony case that can result in a life sentence is $1,096. In Lake Charles, Louisiana, the public defender office has only two investigators for the 2,500 new felony cases and 4,000 new misdemeanor cases assigned to the office each year. Since African Americans are disproportionately low-income, they are more likely to suffer the deficiencies produced by these dynamics.

Zero Tolerance Policies – In response to the perceived problem of school violence, many states and school districts have enacted “zero tolerance” policies for violations of school regulations. Such policies result in automatic suspension or expulsion of students for infractions that in previous times might have been handled by school officials. While ostensibly targeted at gun violence and other serious crimes, in practice these policies have led to disciplinary action for behaviors such as bringing Advil or water pistols to school. Zero tolerance policies contribute to higher rates of suspension and expulsion, and ultimately to increased numbers of school dropouts. Children of color have been disproportionately affected by these policies. According to the Department of Education, 35% of African American children in grades 7-12 had been suspended or expelled at some point in their school careers, compared to rates of 20% for Hispanics and 15% for whites.7 These figures in turn result in increased risk of involvement in the juvenile and adult criminal justice system.

The racist injustice system

One in every eight Black men between the ages of 20 and 34 is currently behind bars--an incredible seven times the rate for white men of the same age. More than 2.1 million Americans are in jail or prison, making the U.S. the country that locks up more of its citizens than any other country.


The U.S. is in the company of only two countries--Iran and Congo--when it comes to executing juveniles. And at the same time that growing numbers of Americans have doubts about the death penalty, Attorney General John Ashcroft has been overriding the decisions of federal prosecutors to impose more death sentences. At least 28 times, Ashcroft has intervened to seek a death sentence--and in 25 of those cases, the defendant was nonwhite.

Black Prison Gulag and the Police State

The United States has passed an historic and symbolic watershed in its unrelenting, two generations-long quest to incarcerate as many Blacks as humanly possible. As of January 1, more than one of every 100 adults is behind bars, about half of them Black. That's not counting Afro-Latinos and other Hispanics. The U.S. is the unchallenged leader in mass incarceration, with the largest Gulag on the planet, based on raw numbers of inmates - 2,319,258 in federal and state prisons and local jails - and per capita incarceration: 750 inmates for every 100,000 people. Russia, which led the world back in Soviet times, is number two, with 628 inmates per 100,000. The Black and brown U.S. prisoner population, alone, roughly equals that of China's - a nation with four times the population of the U.S.

Uneven Justice: State Rates of Incarceration by Race and Ethnicity

Examines racial and ethnic disparities by state, and finds substantial variation in the degree of black-to-white incarceration. The report finds that African Americans are incarcerated at nearly 6 times the rate of whites and Latinos at nearly double the rate. Five states, located in the Northeast and Midwest, incarcerate blacks at more than ten times the rate of whites. Recommended reforms include: addressing disparities through changes in drug policy, mandatory sentencing laws, reconsideration of “race neutral” policies, and changes in resource allocation.

The War On Drugs:

Race, Prison and the Drug Laws

Of the 250,900 state prison inmates serving time for drug offenses in 2004, 133,100 (53.05%) were black, 50,100 (19.97%) were Hispanic, and 64,800 (25.83%) were white.

Source: Harrison, Paige M. & Allen J. Beck, PhD, US Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 2005 (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice, Nov. 2006) (NCJ215092), Table 12, p. 9.

"When incarceration rates by State (excluding Federal inmates) are estimated separately by gender, race, and Hispanic origin, male rates are found to be 10 times higher than female rates; black rates 5-1/2 times higher than white rates; and Hispanic rates nearly 2 times higher than white rates (table 14)."

Source: Harrison, Paige M., & Beck, Allen J., PhD, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2005 (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice, May 2006) (NCJ213133), p. 10.

The incarceration rate in state or federal prison and jail for men was 1,371 per 100,000 residents, for women 129 per 100,000 residents. The rate for white men was 709 per 100,000, for black men 4,682 per 100,000, for Hispanic men 1,856 per 100,000. The rate for white women was 88 per 100,000, for black women 347 per 100,000, and for Hispanic women 144 per 100,000.

Source: Harrison, Paige M., & Beck, Allen J., PhD, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2005 (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice, May 2006) (NCJ213133), p. 10, Table 13.

"When total incarceration rates are estimated separately by age group, black males in their twenties and thirties are found to have very high rates relative to other groups (table 13). Among the nearly 2.2 million offenders incarcerated on June 30, 2005, an estimated 548,300 were black males between the ages of 20 and 39. Of black non-Hispanic males age 25 to 29, 11.9% were in prison or jail, compared to 3.9% of Hispanic males and about 1.7% of white males in the same age group. In general, the incarceration rates for black males of all ages were 5 to 7 times greater than those for white males in the same age groups."

Source: Harrison, Paige M., & Beck, Allen J., PhD, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2005 (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice, May 2006) (NCJ213133), p. 10.

The Dark Alliance: Gary Webb's Incendiary 1996 SJ Mercury News Exposť

For the better part of a decade, a San Francisco Bay Area drug ring sold tons of cocaine to the Crips and Bloods street gangs of Los Angeles and funneled millions in drug profits to an arm of the contra guerrillas of Nicaragua run by the Central Intelligence Agency, the San Jose Mercury News has found.

This drug network opened the first pipeline between Colombia's cocaine cartels and the black neighborhoods of Los Angeles, a city now known as the "crack" capital of the world. The cocaine that flooded in helped spark a crack explosion in urban America - and provided the cash and connections needed for L.A.'s gangs to buy weapons.

Blacks Were Targeted for CIA Cocaine: It Can Be Proven

Leaving the unsupportable arguments aside, is there a supportable case that CIA directly intended for African-Americans to receive the cocaine which it knew would be turned into crack cocaine and which it knew would prove so addictive as to destroy entire communities? The answer is absolutely, yes.

And the key to proving that CIA intended for blacks to receive the drugs which virtually destroyed their communities lies in the twofold approach, of proving that they brought the drugs in and interfered with law enforcement - AND that, by virtue of CIA's relationships with the academic and medical communities, they knew exactly what the end result would be. Knowing that, we then have a mountain of proof, especially since the release of volume II of the CIA's Inspector General's Report (10/98) that the CIA specifically intended and achieved a desired result.

The War On Drugs Is a War on the People

Contras and allied drug-traffickers who ran afoul of drug agents were repeatedly helped by their contacts in the U.S. government. Agents of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency circulated complaints inside the government that whenever they had developed a legal case against some major drug-trafficker, the CIA would come in and use this legal threat to blackmail the trafficker into the network supplying their secret war. And the DEA was then "called off"--because the trafficker was now valuable as an "asset."

Beginning around 1983, and in significant part pushed on by the CIA-sponsored contras themselves, cheap cocaine flooded into ghettos of New York and L.A.--into the economic life of inner cities that were becoming a wasteland of closing factories. Much of it was turned into crack--a smokeable form of cocaine that gives the same intense high at a much cheaper price. Soon, crack was widely available in the ghettos and barrios of New York and L.A. Within several years, nearly every major city was faced with a tidal wave of crack.

The CIA has (predictably) denied any role in the cocaine trade. And the system's mainstream media act like it is "paranoia" to believe that the government might specifically target Black communities with cheap cocaine.

However several questions about this have never been answered. In the early 1980s, a drug distribution ring was set up in California by supporters of the Nicaraguan contras. The investigative journalist Gary Webb has documented that this ring specifically sent its "marketing expert" to Los Angeles to seek out Black drug dealers for the distribution network. Why did these Spanish-speaking Nicaraguan reactionaries not set up distribution through the various Latino drug operations of Los Angeles? Did someone in their operation (or someone controlling their operation higher in the CIA-contra network) specifically decide to unleash this cheap cocaine into the Black community of South Central L.A.?

Crack/Cocaine Disparity

The crack/powder disparity fuels racial disparities.  In 2006, blacks constituted 82% of those sentenced under federal crack cocaine laws while whites constituted only 8.8% despite the fact that more than 66% of people who use crack cocaine are white(2).  The U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC) has found that, “sentences appear to be harsher and more severe for racial minorities that others as a result of this law.  The current penalty structure results in a perception of unfairness and inconsistency.”(3)

Change Racist Crack Cocaine Laws

If you distribute just five grams of crack, it carries a minimum five-year federal prison sentence. If you distribute 500 grams of powder cocaine, it carries the same sentence. This 100:1 sentencing disparity has been condemned for its racially discriminatory impact by a wide array of criminal justice and civil rights groups. Hispanics and whites make up the majority of crack cocaine users, but the majority of those convicted under crack cocaine offenses are African Americans.

African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and the Criminal Injustice System

African-Americans represent:
• 12.7% of the US population
• 15% of US drug users
(72% of all users are white)
• 36.8% of those arrested for a
drug abuse violation
• 48.2% of American adults in State
or Federal prisons and local jails
• 42.5% of prisoners under
sentence of death

Latinos Represent:
• 11.1% of the US population
• 10% of US drug users
(72% of all users are non-Hispanic
• approximately 22.5% of sentenced
State prisoners convicted of a drug
• 18.6% of American adults in State
or Federal prisons and local jails


Vacuum Left by Black Panthers Allows Gangs to Thrive

The Panthers new social reform began to attract the attention of the U.S. government in a negative way. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s director J. Edgar Hoover said the Black Panthers were, “The greatest threat to the internal security of the United States.” In an internal memo Hoover also stated “The free breakfast program for children represents the best and most influential activity going for the B.P.P and, as such, is potentially the greatest threat to efforts by authorities to neutralize the B.P.P. to destroy what it stands for.” The FBI created a counter-intelligence program called COINTELPRO. This program rapidly dismantled the party by assassination raids, false accusations of crimes, infiltration and sabotage.

The Black Panthers were the last line of defense for many black victims of oppression in this country. In the late 1960’s through the mid 1970’s black urban youth has witnessed the demise of any viable leadership. Without older mentors to guide them politically, emerging gangs filled the vacuum in the same communities where the Panthers had once instituted strong community reform.

In Los Angeles, two of the most notorious street gangs, the Crips and Bloods, formed. These gangs became increasingly violent toward, which created intra-racial fratricide mainly over territorial drug trade. Today street gangs continue a foreboding presence many American cities.

Crips and Bloods

After that, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and LAPD systematically disbanded the BPP. Angry black youth in South Central Los Angeles looked for other groups to join and keep up the fight against their oppressors—white or black. Raymond Washington recruited members for a new gang, calling them the Baby Avenues or Baby Cribs. The term Cribs eventually evolved into Crips in common vernacular.

Bloods and Crips In Lost Angeles

The attack on black political leadership in Los Angeles, and the power vacuum that remained, created a large void for young black youths in the late 1960s that coincided with the resurgence of black gangs. A generation of black teens in Los Angeles saw their role models and leadership decimated in the late 1960s.

Gang Wars: The Failure of Enforcement tactics and the Need for Effective Public Safety Strategies

The public face of the gang problem is black and brown, but whites make up the largest group of adolescent gang members. Law enforcement sources report that over 90 percent of gang members are nonwhite, but youth survey data show that whites account for 40 percent of adolescent gang members. White gang youth closely resemble black and Latino counterparts on measures of delinquency and gang involvement, yet they are virtually absent from most law enforcement and media accounts of the gang problem. The disparity raises troubling questions about how gang members are identified by police.

African American and Latino communities bear the cost of failed gang enforcement initiatives. Young men of color are disproportionately identified as gang members and targeted for surveillance, arrest, and incarceration, while whites—who make up a significant share of gang members—rarely show up in accounts of gang enforcement efforts. The Los Angeles district attorney’s office found that close to half of black males between the ages of 21 and 24 had been entered in the county’s gang database even though no one could credibly argue that all of these young men were current gang members. Communities of color suffer not only from the imposition of aggressive police tactics that can resemble martial law, but also from the failure of such tactics to pacify their neighborhoods. One researcher argues that in Chicago, for example, a cycle of police suppression and incarceration, and a legacy of segregation, have
actually helped to sustain unacceptably high levels of gang violence.

Studies based on self-reports as well as localized ethnographic research have documented that white and black gangs are both present in urban areas, and that white gangs are also involved in serious violence. Yet people of color predominate in law enforcement estimates of gang membership, and most of those arrested for gang offenses are African American and Latino.


Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism

From Maine to California, thousands of communities kept out African Americans (or sometimes Chinese Americans, Jewish Americans, etc.) by force, law, or custom. These communities are sometimes called "sundown towns" because some of them posted signs at their city limits reading, typically, "Nigger, Don't Let The Sun Go Down On You In ___." Some towns are still all white on purpose. Their chilling stories have been joined more recently by the many elite (and some not so elite) suburbs like Grosse Pointe, MI, or Edina, MN, that have excluded nonwhites by "kinder gentler means." When I began this research, I expected to find about 10 sundown towns in Illinois (my home state) and perhaps 50 across the country. Instead, I have found more than 440 in Illinois and thousands across the United States. This is their story; it is the first book ever written on the topic.

Race and Home Ownership, 1900-1990

The historical evolution of racial differences in labor incomes has received considerable attention from economists. In contrast to labor incomes, far less attention has been paid to the historical evolution of racial differences in wealth. This scholarly neglect is unfortunate because racial differences in wealth were B and still are B much larger than racial differences in labor incomes and also because wealth per se is an important determinant of living standards, independent of earnings. This paper uses IPUMS data to examine the historical evolution of racial differences in one aspect of wealth B home ownership B from 1900 to 1990.

Redlining/Block-Busting/White Flight

Tenant Responses to the Urban Housing Crisis, 1970-1984

In the second half of the 1970s the organizations trying to combat abandonment focused on a new target: the banks and their practice of "redlining," whereby certain geographic areas were singled out as bad risks for demographic reasons, such as racial change, so all applicants were denied loans regardless of their personal credit worthiness. The housing analysts associated with these organizations were well aware that the causes of housing abandonment were complex. However, they held that redlining played a key role by setting up a self-fulfilling prophecy concerning neighborhood decay: by making mortgage financing difficult to obtain, it reduced demand for properties, thus causing their values to fall and encouraging owners to "milk" their buildings by postponing repairs, cutting services, and even not paying taxes in order to earn a profit under the new conditions.

Redlining In Philadelphia

Redlining is the figurative or literal process of drawing red lines around areas to which lenders refuse to make loans, or make loans on less favorable terms. Areas that are home to racial minorities, particularly African Americans, have historically been the target of redlining practices. The word "redlining" was coined in the late 1960s by community activists in Chicago and was made illegal by the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Prior to this landmark legislation, there was little legal protection against redlining, and it was common practice for lenders and federal agencies to collect and map demographic and housing data about local neighborhoods in order to avoid areas they considered high risk.

Race: The Power of an Illusion

But it wasn’t only discriminatory real estate practices that kept African Americans and Latinos out of the new suburbs. Federal investigators evaluated 239 regions for lending risk. Communities with a mere one or two black families were deemed ipso facto financial risks and thus found themselves ineligible for low-cost home loans. The film shows old government appraisal maps, adopted by the mortgage industry, which colored those neighborhoods red -- hence  the origin of the term "redlining."

“As a consequence,” explains Melvin Oliver, author of Black Wealth, White Wealth, “most of the mortgages went to suburbanizing America, and it suburbanized it racially.” Between 1934 and 1962, the federal government backed $120 billion of home loans; more than 98 percent went to white families.


It wasn't African Americans moving in that caused housing values to go down in Roosevelt and other neighborhoods, it was whites leaving. Oliver explains: “If African Americans are 20% of that market, it means that 80% of the people are not looking in those places for homes. So the price of those homes declines or stays stable. And banks contribute to this by making loans in regions that are on the rise, in white communities, and making it difficult to get loans in Black communities.”

When the whites left, they took capital and resources with them. Business closed and moved away and the county used Roosevelt as a dumping ground for welfare families. A spiral of decline had begun.

The consequences of housing segregation are profound. Today, the median African American family has only one-eighth the net worth of the median white family. Even when they make the same income, white families have over twice the wealth. Much of that gap is due to home equity and family inheritance.

Global Ghetto

The US federal government was directly involved in the segregation process. To increase employment in the construction industry and increase home ownership, the Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) was started. The HOLC initiated the process of redlining. Those who resided in the redlined areas almost never got loans and could never move out. How the World Bank and the IMF divides up countries of the world into zones and ratings is alarmingly similar to HOLC practices.

By giving a twenty five to thirty five year loan with a 90% guaranteed collateral payment, the FHA (Federal Housing Administration) and VA (Veteran's Administration), during the 1950s and 1960s, encouraged selective out-migration of middle class whites to the suburbs, leading to a decline in the economic base of the city and the expansion of the ghetto. In giving out loans, the FHA determined minimum eligibility requirements for lot size, which effectively eliminated inner city homes, thus forcing those who had got the loan to move out.

Subprime Lending

Foreclosed: State of the Dream 2008

We estimate the total loss of wealth for people of color to be between $164 billion and $213 billion for subprime loans taken during the past eight years. We believe this represents the greatest loss of wealth for people of color in modern US history.

From subprime loans, Black/African American borrowers will lose between $71 billion and $92 billion, while Latino borrowers will lose between $75 billion and $98 billion for the same period.

According to federal data, people of color are more than three times more likely to have subprime loans: high-cost loans account for 55% of loans to
Blacks, but only 17% of loans to Whites. If subprime loans had been distributed equitably, losses for white people would be 44.5% higher and losses for people of color would be about 24% lower. "is is evidence of systemic prejudice and institutional racism. Based on improvements in Median Household Net Worth before the current crisis (from 1982 to 2004), it would take 594 more years for Blacks/African-Americans to achieve parity with Whites. "The current crisis is likely to make it take much longer.

Homeownership rates for Blacks/African-Americans compared to Whites are already starting to take back recent gains. At the current rate of improvement (from 1970 to 2006), parity will not be achieved for another 5,423 years. "The spillover effect of the subprime crisis affects whole communities negatively, in terms of abandoned houses, increased crime, devaluation of neighboring houses, and erosion of the tax base, causing revenue shortfalls that mandate service cuts. "The crisis is having a negative impact on property owners, as well as neighborhoods, and local and state governments. Rules made the crisis worse, and rule change can make it better via better policies. Just as many policies in the past and today have supported asset development for the wealthy, so can new policies support asset development for those injured by the subprime crisis.

Broad racial and economic inequalities need to be addressed for the success of any policy solutions to the subprime crisis.]We estimate the total loss of wealth for people of color to be between $164 billion and $213 billion for subprime loans taken during the past eight years. We believe this represents the greatest loss of wealth for people of color in modern US history.

From subprime loans, Black/African American borrowers will lose between $71 billion and $92 billion, while Latino borrowers will lose between $75 billion and $98 billion for the same period.

According to federal data, people of color are more than three times more likely to have subprime loans: high-cost loans account for 55% of loans to
Blacks, but only 17% of loans to Whites. If subprime loans had been distributed equitably, losses for white people would be 44.5% higher and losses for people of color would be about 24% lower. "is is evidence of systemic prejudice and institutional racism. Based on improvements in Median Household Net Worth before the current crisis (from 1982 to 2004), it would take 594 more years for Blacks/African-Americans to achieve parity with Whites. "The current crisis is likely to make it take much longer.

Homeownership rates for Blacks/African-Americans compared to Whites are already starting to take back recent gains. At the current rate of improvement (from 1970 to 2006), parity will not be achieved for another 5,423 years. "The spillover effect of the subprime crisis affects whole communities negatively, in terms of abandoned houses, increased crime, devaluation of neighboring houses, and erosion of the tax base, causing revenue shortfalls that mandate service cuts. "The crisis is having a negative impact on property owners, as well as neighborhoods, and local and state governments. Rules made the crisis worse, and rule change can make it better via better policies. Just as many policies in the past and today have supported asset development for the wealthy, so can new policies support asset development for those injured by the subprime crisis.

Broad racial and economic inequalities need to be addressed for the success of any policy solutions to the subprime crisis.

Predatory Lending: Redlining in Reverse

After decades of redlining practices that starved many urban communities for credit and denied loans to racial minorities, today a growing number of financial institutions are flooding these same markets with exploitative loan products that drain residents of their wealth. Such “reverse redlining” may be as problematic for minority families and older urban neighborhoods as has been the withdrawal of conventional financial services. Instead of contributing to homeownership and community development, predatory lending practices strip the equity homeowners have struggled to build and deplete the wealth of those communities for the enrichment of distant financial services firms.

Subprime People

There we learn that subprime lending is shorthand for new racism in banking. Instead of “redlining” neighborhoods filled with struggling workers of color, bankers have for the past decade “subprimed” them — giving credit to these working poor at predatory rates (cf: Wyly HPD 15.3).

An Unstable Foundation And Racism In The Structure

As the housing bubble continues to deflate, it leaves in its path a discarded group of individuals who spent the early years of the 21st Century striving to be part of the American dream. Many low-income people were led to believe that sub-prime loans—that is, loans with interest rates at least three percentage points higher than conventional loans—were their pathway to achieving the dream. But the sub-prime lending market was also the proverbial needle that popped that balloon, and its biggest victims were communities of color.

African Americans Bear the Brunt of Subprime Crisis

The subprime mortgage mess is making headlines, but what the media barely mentions is that the African community is bearing the brunt of it.

Once again, bankers, brokers, lenders and even regular white working America have profited mightily and are bailed out by the government when their strategy fails. The African community is used, bled dry, and then criminalized and blamed for the problem.

You have to dig to find out that, for instance, more African borrowers making upwards of $100,000 a year were given subprime mortgages than were whites making under $40,000. African communities were targeted for subprime and adjustable rate mortgages as a very lucrative new market for loan sharks.


What Is Gentrification?

Many aspects of the gentrification process are desirable. Who wouldn't want to see reduced crime, new investment in buildings and infrastructure, and increased economic activity in their neighborhoods? Unfortunately, the benefits of these changes are often enjoyed disproportionately by the new arrivals, while the established residents find themselves economically and socially marginalized.

Gentrification has been the cause of painful conflict in many American cities, often along racial and economic fault lines. Neighborhood change is often viewed as a miscarriage of social justice, in which wealthy, usually white, newcomers are congratulated for "improving" a neighborhood whose poor, minority residents are displaced by skyrocketing rents and economic change.


Capitalism generates a division into classes. At the top of the social pyramid is the tiny class that owns the bulk of economic wealth. Filling their need for control over labor is another class — the techno-managerial "middle class" who manage, plan, advise. Their class position is based on monopolization of skills, education and connections rather than ownership of capital. Below them are ranged the mass of workers who are forced to work under the control of this sort of hierarchy — the working class. This class hierarchy in the economy generates great inequality in wealth and income.

The housing market tends to sort the population by income into different areas. Racism may add another type of sorting. If an area is increasingly filled by lower income residents, landlords have an incentive to not maintain their properties. If they were to invest in upgrades, they'd need to charge a higher rent to make this a profitable investment. People with higher incomes who could pay the higher rents may not be willing to live in that neighborhood. So landlords simply "milk" the decaying buildings of their rent. By putting off repairs, they can save money to buy other buildings elsewhere.

Gentrification: bankers and landlords push ‘ethnic cleansing’

Gentrification is undeniably a racist process. In many gentrified areas, higher-income white households have replaced lower-income minority households. This is what happened in communities that experienced “white flight” and painful urban renewal in the 1950s and 1960s. The same process continues in cities throughout the United States today. Gentrification is undeniably a racist process. In many gentrified areas, higher-income white households have replaced lower-income minority households. This is what happened in communities that experienced “white flight” and painful urban renewal in the 1950s and 1960s. The same process continues in cities throughout the United States today.