In the article “The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Coates discusses the housing policies that African Americans had to face. During the 1920s, many African Americans in the South were sharecroppers and were consistently robbed by their landowners. The landowners would pay the sharecroppers back a certain portion of their profits, but the landowners would always pay the farmers back less than what was actually worth the value of their goods (Coates).
Due to this, farmers were always in debt and could barely support their family with the income they had. As African Americans started moving north to flee themselves from the laws of the South, they were able to get better wages and buy themselves a house. However, when African Americans bought houses, they were under a contract. This contract would always have a price higher than what it was originally bought for. With these increased prices, a missed payment could cause a family’s down payment to be lost and families did not have ownership of the house (Coates).
The families would have all the use rights, which included caring for the house, but did not have the control rights. As more African American families started buying houses, redlining became an integral part in housing policies. Realtors would manipulate white families to sell their houses at a lower price than it was worth by convincing the families that their property will start losing value when more African Americans moved in (Coates).
As some African Americans were able to earn more money, they were able to afford houses in richer neighborhoods. However, these individuals and their families would choose to live in the cheaper neighborhoods (Coates). This is because African Americans’ jobs were never certain. One day they could be making enough to support themselves in a nicer neighborhood, but the next day could be that they lost their job and cannot afford a house.
With this disparity, a racial organization could be seen in the city, which created segregation of whites and people of color. The segregation caused a fear of market value of housing to drop when an individual of color decided to move into a white neighborhood. Realtors capitalized on this fear by manipulating the white families to sell their houses at a lower price, which the realtors would sell to a family of color at a higher price than they bought it for (Coates).
The segregation also caused terrorist actions to occur when people of color decided to move into a nicer white neighborhood (Coates). These sentiments created a greater divide in society. The effects of this can be seen today by the looking at the diversity of neighborhoods. For example, parts of Chicago are evident of areas that are majority African Americans with lower incomes and higher unemployment rates and other areas that are majority whites with higher incomes and lower unemployment rates (Coates).
With these segregated neighborhoods, it allows us to see the how much harder people of color have to work to just get a fraction of the life a white individual is able to have. For example, President Barack Obama had to work extremely hard to get to where he is today and his children are only able to experience some of what white families are able to experience (Coates). African Americans had to fight for their rights to be treated as equals, but they still face a lot of discrimination today. No matter how hard an individual of color works and earns they may not be able to get to where white individuals are. Making reparations to what has been done by housing policies will help to make society an equal platform for everyone. However, there is still a long way before that happens, if it ever happens.
As I was reading the article, I could not believe the amount of discrimination that people of color had to endure. When I usually hear about discrimination, I tend to think only about the workplace. This article provided an eye-opening experience of how buying and owning houses was not a simple task to do. The article also shows the devastating effects of a segregated neighborhood. It put into perspective to me of how a segregated neighborhood leads to an increase in violence. This is because people are able to see the disparity.
I believe that it may also be from not feeling like one can get out of the neighborhood and fall into the violence and crime that is established there. As I read stories about the individuals trying to earn money to keep up with financial and house payments, it made me feel extremely lucky that my mom is able to support me to go to school.
These individuals were not able to support their children in school because they did not have the finances to do so. No matter how intelligent the child was the parents could not put them into a better school. This article makes be believe that we need to start to make reparations to the damage that we created in the past, so that everyone has an equal opportunity in life to achieve what they want to, even if it is as small as being able to own a house of their own.