Minneapolis undercuts the idea that economic prosperity leads to racial equality – The Washington Post


I participated in an REI Phase 1 workshop a couple of weekends ago and heard that problems caused by racism cannot be fixed with race-neutral solutions. Which makes sense.

«Nationally, the economic gulf between black and white Americans has changed little since a federal commission in 1968 identified “white racism” leading to “pervasive discrimination in employment, education and housing” as the cause of uprisings in African American communities.»

«In the 1970s, following civil unrest over systemic racism and a lawsuit on school segregation, the Twin Cities embarked on a new set of reforms, building subsidized housing for low-income families throughout its wealthier white communities, said Myron Orfield, a law professor at the University of Minnesota who leads the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity.

But political and philanthropic leaders abandoned the region’s well-known integration policies in the 1990s in favor of directing additional tax dollars to finance social services, housing and schools in low-income communities of color, he said.»

(The roots of gentrification?)

«The average house in north Minneapolis goes on the market for about $250,000, whereas the average black resident qualifies for a home loan of about $180,000, according to Steven Belton, president and chief executive of the Urban League Twin Cities. Government assistance typically covers only half the gap….

“For white people, the homeownership program is working really well,” Belton said. “The policy doesn’t really address the problem: If we know the disparity is in black homeownership, the dollars should be targeted toward African Americans.”

Black leaders say programs targeting equity tend to focus on neighborhoods — not race.

“A state like ours is so hesitant to assign a race lens to our incentives that we too often defer to geography,” said Tawanna Black, founder and chief executive of the Center for Economic Inclusion. “Attaching Zip codes as qualifiers is not enough….”»

«…Orfield’s research also shows that developers have taken advantage of public subsidies to rehabilitate historic structures in gentrifying Minneapolis neighborhoods and turn them into artists lofts with yoga studios, rooftop fire pits and skyline views — accommodations that draw overwhelmingly white tenants. These developments represent the highest end of “affordable housing” in the Twin Cities — too expensive for most low-income residents to afford with government housing vouchers, Orfield said.»

«Myers, the University of Minnesota economist, said racial economic disparities are a direct result of government-sanctioned redlining and urban planning that limited or wiped out black wealth, and also a result of discrimination in so many facets of American life, including employment and lending.

“The policies advanced by progressives in Minnesota have focused on credit repair, homeownership training and other factors that assume that the problem of racial disparities in homeownership are due to black deficiencies,” Myers said. “The liberal and progressive policies tend to work to help improve the capacities of minorities without changing the underlying structures that are in place that created the disparities to begin with.”

He said it’s hard for progressive Minnesotans to accept that ongoing discrimination is a cause of persistent racial disparities. “The main thing that explains the Minnesota paradox is the fact that, unlike Mississippi or Alabama, where there are overt racists, racism in Minnesota is never open or explicit.”»

Should go without saying, but this also applies to the northeast, the west, and nice white moderates like me in the south.

See also: Nice White Parents.

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