Racism and Economics
In the past 50 years “white society” and “black society” have become increasingly unequal. Government policies and attitudes have perpetuated this inequality, and the wealth gap between white families and African American families continues to grow.
One of the main avenues for wealth accumulation is real estate. Unfortunately, African Americans have not had the same opportunities to purchase property as whites. For many years the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) had policies that barred developers from receiving federally subsidized construction loans unless they committed to excluding African Americans from the area. African Americans were also prevented from receiving FHA insured mortgages, forcing them to obtain high interest loans with little security. When the bans were finally lifted, banks routinely sent loan officers to African American neighborhoods to target them for high interest, low security mortgages – mortgages that were destined to fail before they were even signed.
In addition to enacting racist mortgage policies, the federal government also allocated money to strengthen the infrastructure of “white suburbs.” However, in many African American neighborhoods, which did not receive the same financial support, infrastructure deteriorated. Eventually years of decay and overcrowding took its toll, and schools, public services, roads, and utilities began to collapse. But still nothing was done.
Although many of the racist economic policies no longer exist, the detrimental effects remain. The church must continue to work for the equality of all people and, to that end, we will pay particular attention to resolutions that address race and economics.
- Laura Russell, Episcopal Network for Economic Justice