Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership : Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Recommended Reading: Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

(Justice, Power, and Politics reading)

By the late 1960s and early 1970s, reeling from a wave of urban uprisings, politicians finally worked to end the practice of redlining. Reasoning that the turbulence could be calmed by turning Black city-dwellers into homeowners, they passed the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968, and set about establishing policies to induce mortgage lenders and the real estate industry to treat Black homebuyers equally. The disaster that ensued revealed that racist exclusion had not been eradicated, but rather transmuted into a new phenomenon of predatory inclusion.

Race for Profit uncovers how exploitative real estate practices continued well after housing discrimination was banned. The same racist structures and individuals remained intact after redlining’s end, and close relationships between regulators and the industry created incentives to ignore improprieties. Meanwhile, new policies meant to encourage low-income homeownership created new methods to exploit Black homeowners. The federal government guaranteed urban mortgages in an attempt to overcome resistance to lending to Black buyers – as if unprofitability, rather than racism, was the cause of housing segregation. Bankers, investors, and real estate agents took advantage of the perverse incentives, targeting the Black women most likely to fail to keep up their home payments and slip into foreclosure, multiplying their profits. As a result, by the end of the 1970s, the nation’s first programs to encourage Black homeownership ended with tens of thousands of foreclosures in Black communities across the country. The push to uplift Black homeownership had descended into a goldmine for realtors and mortgage lenders, and a ready-made cudgel for the champions of deregulation to wield against government intervention of any kind.

Narrating the story of a sea-change in housing policy and its dire impact on African Americans, Race for Profit reveals how the urban core was transformed into a new frontier of cynical extraction.

ABOUT Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor @KeeangaYamahtta

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is Assistant Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University. Taylor’s writing and scholarship engage issues of contemporary Black politics, the history of Black social movements and Black radicalism, and issues concerning public policy, race and racial inequality. Taylor’s writing has been published in New York Times, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, Boston Review, The Paris Review, The New Republic, Al Jazeera America, Jacobin, In These Times, New Politics, Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society, and beyond. Taylor is also author of the award-winning From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation published by Haymarket Books in 2016. She is also author of How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective which won the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Nonfiction. Taylor’s forthcoming book with the University of North Carolina Press, titled Race For Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership will be published in October of 2019.

Taylor received her PhD in African American Studies at Northwestern University in 2013.

Black farmers were deliberately sold ‘fake seeds’ in scheme to steal their land: report

Black farmers were deliberately sold ‘fake seeds’ in scheme to steal their land: report

Black farmers in the Mid-South region surrounding Memphis used science to uncover a multi-million scheme to put them out of business and steal their farmland, WMC News reported Tuesday.

At the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show show in March of 2017, African-American farmers believe that Stine Seed Company purposefully sold them fake seeds.

Thomas Burrell, president of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association, explained how black farmers were receiving one-tenth of the yield as their white neighbors.

“Mother nature doesn’t discriminate,” Burrell said. “It doesn’t rain on white farms but not black farms. Insects don’t [only] attack black farmers’ land…why is it then that white farmers are buying Stine seed and their yield is 60, 70, 80, and 100 bushels of soybeans and black farmers who are using the exact same equipment with the exact same land, all of a sudden, your seeds are coming up 5, 6, and 7 bushels?”

The results were so stark, resulting in millions of dollars in losses, the farmers took their seeds for scientific testing by experts at Mississippi State University.

The tests revealed the black farmers had not been given the quality “certified” Stine seeds for which they had paid.

Burrell suggested a land grab was the ultimate motivation of the perpetrators.

“All we have to do is look at here: 80 years ago you had a million black farmers, today you have less than 5,000. These individuals didn’t buy 16 million acres of land, just to let is lay idle. The sons and daughters, the heirs of black farmers want to farm, just like the sons and daughters of white farmers.”

“So we have to acknowledge that racism is the motivation here,” Burrell concluded.

The farmers have filed a class-action lawsuit in United States District Court for the Western Division in Memphis.

A state legislator is also seeking an investigation into the scheme.

Tennessee Rep. G.A. Hardaway (D-Memphis) vowed state government would investigate “issues which have negatively impacted our black farmers.”

“We will explore the avenues — whether its civil, whether it’s criminal — dealing with fraud,” Rep. Hardaway vowed.

One farmer victimized, David Hall, explained why he had paid extra for high quality seeds.

“We bought nearly $90,000 worth of seed” Hall explained. “It’s been known to produce high yield, so you expect it, when you pay the money for it, to produce the high yields.”

The farmers “were effectively duped,” Burrell told WREG-TV. “It’s a double whammy for these farmers, it accelerates their demise and effectively it puts them out of business.”

“No matter much rain Mother Nature gives you, if the germination is zero the seed is impotent,” Burrell reminded.

Watch:

https://cdn2.trb.tv/iframe.html?ec=l1bHRwZjE6KOmV4BrvZctDofERl116ez&pbid=ffbcf8e010eb4c238d3dda4eb935d806&pcode=J5b3E62qXs0__5N6rt4w1q4FbPSD

NEW IASP STUDY OFFERS NEW UNDERSTANDING OF FACTORS DRIVING RACIAL WEALTH GAP l THE HELLER SCHOOL FOR SOCIAL POLICY AND MANAGEMENT

 

The Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP) develops strategies, processes, and policy alternatives that enable vulnerable populations to build resources and access opportunities to live securely and participate fully in all aspects of social and economic life.

NEW IASP STUDY OFFERS NEW UNDERSTANDING OF FACTORS DRIVING RACIAL WEALTH GAP 

The dramatic gap in household wealth that now exists along racial lines in the United States cannot be attributed to personal ambition and behavioral choices, but rather reflects policies and institutional practices that create different opportunities for whites and African-Americans, new research shows.

So powerful are these government policies and institutional practices that for typical families, a $1 increase in average income over the 25-year study period generates just $0.69 in additional wealth for an African-American household compared with $5.19 for a white household, in part because black households have  fewer opportunities to grow their savings beyond what’s needed for emergencies.

This groundbreaking study, The Roots of the Widening Racial Wealth Gap: Explaining the Black-White Economic Divide, statistically validates five “fundamental factors” that together largely explain why white households accumulate wealth so much faster over time than African-American households.

On February 27, 2013 there was a webinar hosted by the Insight Center’s Closing the Racial Wealth Gap InitiativePolicyLink, and Tom Shapiro, Director of the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University.  This webinar presented breakthrough research on what has been fueling our country’s growing racial wealth divide for the past 25 years.  Click here to listen to the playback.

As America continues to become more diverse, the nation’s ability to achieve sustained growth and prosperity hinges on how quickly we can erase lingering racial and class divides and fully apply everyone’s talents and creativity to building the next economy.

Featured Projects

IASP Partners with Compass Working Capital’s Financial Stability and Savings Program

Compass Working Capital, a small innovative CBO, was selected for funding by Strategic Grant Partners, Boston, MA, to implement an experimental asset-building approach to the HUD Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program for recipients of housing vouchers in Lynn, MA. IASP is developing and implementing the process and outcome evaluations and the preliminary cost/benefit analysis for this pilot FSS program. The multi-year evaluation focuses on how families use this opportunity to move toward economic stability, positive impacts sustained after program graduation, and the cost-effectiveness of taking the program to scale.

Senior Economic Security

Image of elderly woman

IASP examines the long-term economic stability and risk of senior citizens. The “Living Longer on Less” series, released in collaboration with Dēmos, includes:

Rising Economic Insecurity among Senior Single Women, October 2011 •  This most recent report in the series reveals that nearly half (47%) of all senior single women in America do not have adequate retirement resources to meet even their most basic needs for the remainder of their lives, and this number is rising.

The Crisis of Economic Insecurity for African-American and Latino Seniors, September 2011 •  This report reveals crisis levels of economic insecurity among current African-American and Latino seniors—52% of African-American and 56% of Latino seniors do not have adequate retirement resources to meet their basic needs throughout their expected life-spans. Driven by extremely low levels of asset wealth and high housing costs, most seniors of color are struggling financially during their elder years.

From Bad to Worse: Senior Economic Insecurity on the Rise, July 2011   The first in a series of four research briefs, this report shows a troublesome trend of increased economic insecurity among senior households in just four years (2004-2008). Economic insecurity among seniors increased by one-third during this period, from 27% to 36%.

Previous reports in the “Living Longer on Less” series include: