By Richard Rothstein, Liveright, May 2, 2017, 1631492853
The Color of Law describes the history of de jure segregation in the US. Richard Rothstein wrote this book to counter the Supreme Court ruling in 2007 that segregation was caused by “societal discrimination” and “not traceable to [government’s] own actions”. The book documents his case clearly, and I agree with him: the US, state, and local governments kept Blacks from buying homes and living where they wanted to.
The laws created were terrible. We know about redlining, but did you know Black soldiers who fought in World War II could not buy homes with VA loans? Horrible.
I lived in East Meadow, NY in Levitt house that was purchased by my (White, Jewish, WWI veteran) father with a VA loan. He would not have been able to afford the house with that loan. We had no Black neighbors. Not that we could buy a home in Levittown, because their covenant restricted Jews from buying there. I don’t know why East Meadow didn’t have such a covenant, but I’m grateful they didn’t have one. I just wish anybody who wanted to could have lived where I did.
This is an important and compelling book. Hopefully, it will bring change. Just after I finished this book, California just passed a law to return Bruce’s Beach back to the family of its original Black owners.
[k116] Half a century ago, the truth of de jure segregation was well known, but since then we have suppressed our historical memory and soothed ourselves into believing that it all happened by accident or by misguided private prejudice. Popularized by Supreme Court majorities from the 1970s to the present, the de facto segregation myth has now been adopted by conventional opinion, liberal and conservative alike.
[k125] He concluded: “The Constitution simply does not allow federal courts to attempt to change that situation unless and until it is shown that the State, or its political subdivisions, have contributed to cause the situation to exist. No record has been made in this case showing that the racial composition of the Detroit school population or that residential patterns within Detroit and in the surrounding areas were in any significant measure caused by governmental activity.”
[k150] The following pages will refute this too-comfortable notion, expressed by Justice Kennedy and endorsed by Chief Justice Roberts and his colleagues, that wrongs committed by the state have little causal link to the residential segregation we see around us.
[k154] The core argument of this book is that African Americans were unconstitutionally denied the means and the right to integration in middle-class neighborhoods, and because this denial was state-sponsored, the nation is obligated to remedy it.
[k165] Where The Color of Law differs is not with their theory but with their facts. For those who, like the Court, believe that the Constitution requires a remedy for government-sponsored segregation, but that most segregation doesn’t fall into this category, I hope to show that Justice Roberts and his colleagues have their facts wrong.
[k198] Although most of these policies are now off the books, they have never been remedied and their effects endure.
[k294] To ensure that no African Americans migrated to Richmond unless they were essential to the war effort, the city’s police stopped African American men on the street and then arrested and jailed them if they couldn’t prove they were employed.
[k326] As in Rollingwood ten years earlier, one of the federal government’s specifications for mortgages insured in Milpitas was an openly stated prohibition on sales to African Americans.
[k372] At the time, the Federal Housing Administration and Veterans Administration not only refused to insure mortgages for African Americans in designated white neighborhoods like Ladera; they also would not insure mortgages for whites in a neighborhood where African Americans were present.
[k375] State-regulated insurance companies, like the Equitable Life Insurance Company and the Prudential Life Insurance Company, also declared that their policy was not to issue mortgages to whites in integrated neighborhoods. State insurance regulators had no objection to this stance. The Bank of America and other leading California banks had similar policies, also with the consent of federal banking regulators.
Within six years the population of East Palo Alto was 82 percent black. Conditions deteriorated as African Americans who had been excluded from other neighborhoods doubled up in single-family homes. Their East Palo Alto houses had been priced so much higher than similar properties for whites that the owners had difficulty making payments without additional rental income. Federal and state housing policy had created a slum in East Palo Alto.
[k422] The federal government first developed housing for civilians–living quarters on military bases had long been in existence–during World War I, when it built residences for defense workers near naval shipyards and munitions plants. Eighty-three projects in twenty-six states housed 170,000 white workers and their families. African Americans were excluded, even from projects in northern and western industrial centers where they worked in significant numbers.
[k433] The administration constructed separate projects for African Americans, segregated buildings by race, or excluded African Americans entirely from developments.
[k439] A TVA official explained that the town was being reserved for whites because “Negroes do not fit into the program.”
[k454] Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, who directed the effort, had been president of the Chicago branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in the 1920s and was one of the administration’s few liberals on racial matters.
Although most officials intended public housing for middle- and working-class white families, Ickes’s efforts resulted in African Americans occupying one-third of the units, an unprecedented government commitment to the housing needs of African Americans. But Ickes did not propose to integrate PWA developments. Of the PWA’s forty-seven projects, seventeen were assigned to African Americans. Six others were segregated by building. The rest were for whites only.
[k482] When the federal government objected to the city’s failure to accommodate African Americans, St. Louis agreed to a blacks-only project as well.
[k512] Certainly, many urban areas already had distinct African American neighborhoods when the PWA or USHA came on the scene; federal agencies cannot be charged with sole responsibility for segregation. But they reinforced it.
[k518] It would be going too far to suggest that cities like these would have evolved into integrated metropolises were it not for New Deal public housing. But it is also the case that the federal government’s housing rules pushed these cities into a more rigid segregation than otherwise would have existed.
[k540] In 1935, the Cambridge Housing Authority, in cooperation with the PWA, demolished a low-income tenement neighborhood that had been integrated, mostly by African Americans and European immigrants. There the authority built Newtowne Court, restricted to white tenants.
[k578] The Western Addition had been a mixed community, including a large Japanese American population. But when the federal government relocated Japanese-origin families to internment camps, their residences were vacated, and African Americans were able to rent them, making this one of the few San Francisco neighborhoods where African Americans could find housing.
[k583] In 1942, the San Francisco authority announced its resolve to maintain segregation by unanimously adopting a resolution: “In the selection of tenants . . . [we shall] not insofar as possible enforce the commingling of races, but shall insofar as possible maintain and preserve the same racial composition which exists in the neighborhood where a project is located.”
[k685] In his ruling, the district judge who originally heard the case wrote, “No criterion, other than race, can plausibly explain the veto of over 99.5% of the housing units located on the White sites which were originally selected on the basis of CHA’s expert judgment and at the same time the rejection of only 10% or so of the units on Negro sites.”
[k703] In Miami, for example, African Americans eligible for public housing were assigned to distinct projects while eligible whites were given vouchers for rentals of private apartments to subsidize their dispersal throughout the community. It was not until 1998 that civil rights groups won a requirement that vouchers be offered to African Americans as well–too late to reverse the city’s segregation.
[k805] In 1913, Wilson and his cabinet approved the implementation of segregation in government offices.
[k807] Black supervisors were demoted to ensure that no African American oversaw a white employee.
[k942] In 1924, two years after the advisory committee had published its first manual and model zoning ordinance, the association followed up by adopting a code of ethics that included this warning: “a realtor should never be instrumental in introducing into a neighborhood . . . members of any race or nationality… whose presence will clearly be detrimental to property values in that neighborhood.”
[k959] The judge explained, “The blighting of property values and the congesting of the population, whenever the colored or certain foreign races invade a residential section, are so well known as to be within the judicial cognizance.”
In the years since the 1926 Supreme Court ruling, numerous white suburbs in towns across the country have adopted exclusionary zoning ordinances to prevent low-income families from residing in their midst.
[k979] My purpose, however, is not to argue courtroom standards of proof. I am interested in how we got to the systematic racial segregation we find in metropolitan areas today, and what role government played in creating these residential patterns. We can’t prove what was in council members’ hearts in Arlington Heights or anywhere else, but in too many zoning decisions the circumstantial evidence of racial motivation is persuasive. I think it can fairly be said that there would be many fewer segregated suburbs than there are today were it not for an unconstitutional desire, shared by local officials and by the national leaders who urged them on, to keep African Americans from being white families’ neighbors.
[k988] Studies by the Commission for Racial Justice of the United Churches of Christ and by Greenpeace, conducted at about the same time as the GAO report, concluded that race was so strong a statistical predictor of where hazardous waste facilities could be found that there was only a one-in-10,000 chance of the racial distribution of such sites occurring randomly, and that the percentage of minorities living near incinerators was 89 percent higher than the national median.
[k1118] Although the HOLC did not always decline to rescue homeowners in neighborhoods colored red on its maps (i.e., redlined neighborhoods), the maps had a huge impact and put the federal government on record as judging that African Americans, simply because of their race, were poor risks.
[k1131] Appraisers were told to give higher ratings where “[p]rotection against some adverse influences is obtained,” and that “[i]mportant among adverse influences . . . are infiltration of inharmonious racial or nationality groups.” The manual concluded that “[a]ll mortgages on properties protected against [such] unfavorable influences, to the extent such protection is possible, will obtain a high rating.”
The FHA discouraged banks from making any loans at all in urban neighborhoods rather than newly built suburbs; according to the Underwriting Manual, “older properties . . . have a tendency to accelerate the rate of transition to lower class occupancy.”
[k1150] All had good credit ratings, and banks were willing to issue mortgages if the FHA would approve. But the agency stated that “no loans will be given to colored developments.”
[k1172] There he caught the attention of railroad tycoon August Belmont II, who was serving in the U.S. Army’s supply department. A passionate horse racer, he had built the Belmont Race Track on Long Island, New York. Impressed with Leroy Mereday’s skill, Belmont asked him to work at his track.
[k1175] He found lodging in Hempstead, not far from the racetrack, and soon sent for a younger brother, Charles, who in turn persuaded brothers Arthur and Robert, sister Lillie, and their parents to come north.
[k1206] William Levitt’s refusal to sell a home to Vince Mereday was not a mere reflection of the builder’s prejudicial views. Had he felt differently and chosen to integrate Levittown, the federal government would have refused to subsidize him. In the decades following World War II, suburbs across the country–as in Milpitas and Palo Alto and Levittown–were created in this way, with the FHA administering an explicit racial policy that solidified segregation in every one of our metropolitan areas.
[k1213] By 1950, the FHA and VA together were insuring half of all new mortgages nationwide.
[k1215] Frank Stevenson was not denied the opportunity to follow his job to Milpitas because the FHA refused to insure an individual mortgage for him. Vince Mereday was not denied the opportunity to live in Levittown because a VA appraiser considered his individual purchase too risky for a mortgage guarantee. Rather, in these and thousands of other locales, mass-production builders created entire suburbs with the FHA- or VA-imposed condition that these suburbs be all white.
[k1219] Levittown was a massive undertaking, a development of 17,500 homes. It was a visionary solution to the housing problems of returning war veterans–mass-produced two-bedroom houses of 750 square feet sold for about $8,000 each, with no down payment required.
[k1222] Instead, Levitt built the houses and then sought customers. He could never have amassed the capital for such an enormous undertaking without the FHA and the VA.
[k1235] The FHA even withheld approval if the presence of African Americans in nearby neighborhoods threatened integration.
[k1241] As William Levitt testified before Congress in 1957, “We are 100 percent dependent on Government.”
[k1263] But because De Porres was intended for African Americans, Vatterott could not get FHA financing for it.
[k1264] Because potential buyers were denied FHA or VA mortgages, many of the homes were rented.
[k1565] The full cycle went like this: when a neighborhood first integrated, property values increased because of African Americans’ need to pay higher prices for homes than whites. But then property values fell once speculators had panicked enough white homeowners into selling at deep discounts.
Falling sale prices in neighborhoods where blockbusters created white panic was deemed as proof by the FHA that property values would decline if African Americans moved in. But if the agency had not adopted a discriminatory and unconstitutional racial policy, African Americans would have been able, like whites, to locate throughout metropolitan areas rather than attempting to establish presence in only a few blockbusted communities, and speculators would not have been able to prey on white fears that their neighborhoods would soon turn from all white to all black.
[k1587] In Mark Satter’s time, approximately 85 percent of all property purchased by African Americans in Chicago had been sold to them on contract.
[k1623] The IRS has always had an obligation to withhold tax favoritism from discriminatory organizations, but it almost never acted to do so. Its regulations specifically authorize charitable deductions for organizations that “eliminate prejudice and discrimination” and “defend human and civil rights secured by law.”
[k1768] In 2000, 41 percent of all borrowers with subprime loans would have qualified for conventional financing with lower rates, a figure that increased to 61 percent in 2006. By then, African American mortgage recipients had subprime loans at three times the rate of white borrowers. Higher-income African Americans had subprime mortgages at four times the rate of higher-income whites.
[k1786] Bank supervisors instructed their marketing staffs to target solicitation to heavily African American zip codes, because residents there “weren’t savvy enough” to know they were being exploited.
[k1844] But when the builder’s intent to sell both to blacks and whites became known, the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors rezoned the site from residential to industrial use.
[k1919] Hundreds, if not thousands of smaller acts of government contributed. They included petty actions like denial of access to public utilities; determining, once African Americans wanted to build, that their property was, after all, needed for parkland; or discovering that a road leading to African American homes was “private.”
[k1957] At the time, condemning a proposed African American residence for park purposes was a useful device for whites-only communities because, as a Missouri appeals court ruled, also in 1959, the judicial system could not inquire as to the motives for a condemnation, provided the purpose of the condemnation was public, which a park surely was.
[k2007] In 1949, the American Road Builders Association wrote to President Truman that if interstates were properly routed through metropolitan areas, they could “contribute in a substantial manner to the elimination of slum and deteriorated areas.”
[k2019] In advance, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights had warned that the expressway would displace about 4,000 families, 87 percent of whom were African American.
[k2045] The routing of the Santa Monica Freeway through Sugar Hill succeeded in demolishing the black community where other efforts had failed.
[k2065] These actions were effective, and soon almost all African Americans in Austin had moved east. For example, in 1930, the integrated neighborhood of Wheatsville had an African American population of 16 percent. In 1932, its segregated school for African American pupils was shut down, and by 1950 the community’s African American population was 1 percent.
[k2068] The city closed other schools and parks for African Americans outside the Eastside area that had been designated for their residence.
[k2077] Although the strategic placement of schools to designate racial zones was a tactic primarily available to southern cities with codified school segregation, the device was occasionally employed in the North as well.
[k2244] Although 118 rioters were arrested, a Cook County grand jury did not indict a single one. The grand jury, however, did indict Harvey Clark, his real estate agent, his NAACP attorney, and the white landlady who rented the apartment to him as well as her attorney on charges of inciting a riot and conspiring to lower property values. Thirty-six years later, when an African American family again attempted to live in Cicero, it was met with firebombs and rifle shots. Nobody was convicted of these attacks, either.
[k2263] In 1968, an official of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission reported that “our experience has been that nearly all attempts by black families to move to Detroit’s suburbs have been met with harassment.”
[k2271] In 1945, an entire family–father, mother, and two children–was killed when its new home in an all-white neighborhood was blown up. Of the more than one hundred incidents of move-in bombings and vandalism that occurred in Los Angeles between 1950 and 1965, only one led to an arrest and prosecution–and that was because the California attorney general took over the case after local police and prosecutors claimed they were unable to find anyone to charge.
[k2296] Under the watch of a police guard, demonstrations continued for a month until the house was dynamited. The police guard said he saw nothing. There was one arrest following the Wades’ moving in: of Andrew Wade and a friend for “breach of the peace,” because Mr. Wade had failed to notify the police that the friend would be visiting.
[k2305] Although the chief acknowledged that both the dynamiter and the cross burners had confessed, the perpetrators were not indicted. Instead, a grand jury indicted Carl and Anne Braden, along with four others whom the jury accused of conspiring to stir up racial conflict by selling the house to African Americans. The formal charge was “sedition.” Charges against the others were dropped, but Carl Braden was sentenced to fifteen years in prison (he eventually won release on appeal), and the Wades went back to Louisville’s African American area.
[k2309] In 1985, Robert and Martha Marshall bought a home in Sylvania, another suburb of Louisville that had remained exclusively white. Their house was firebombed on the night they moved in. A month later, a second arson attack destroyed the house, a few hours before a Ku Klux Klan meeting at which a speaker boasted that no African Americans would be permitted to live in Sylvania. The Marshall family then sued a county police officer who had been identified as a member of the Klan. The officer testified that about half of the forty Klan members known to him were also in the police department and that his superiors condoned officers’ Klan membership, as long as the information did not become public.
[k2337] African American isolation, the argument goes, reflects their low incomes, not de jure segregation.
[k2361] Mines operated by U.S. Steel alone used tens of thousands of imprisoned African Americans. The practice ebbed during World War II, but it wasn’t until 1951 that Congress fulfilled its Thirteenth Amendment obligation and explicitly outlawed the practice.
[k2380] No African Americans were permitted to be promoted to foreman or other supervisory roles in the TVA.
[k2393] The NAACP complained, “For these workers the [National Recovery Administration] meant increases of from 10 to 40 per cent in the cost of everything they had to buy, without a single penny in increased wages.”
[k2418] In New York, for example, the NLRB-certified Building Service Employees Union forced Manhattan hotels, restaurants, and offices to fire African American elevator operators and restaurant workers and then give the jobs to whites.
[k2453] In the postwar years, some unions began to desegregate voluntarily, but federal agencies continued to recognize segregated unions within the government itself until 1962, when President Kennedy banned the practice. Nonetheless, the Post Office’s National Association of Letter Carriers did not permit African Americans to join in some areas until the 1970s.
[k2459] The construction trades continued to exclude African Americans during the home and highway construction booms of the postwar years, so black workers did not share with whites the substantial income gains that blue collar workers realized in the two big wage growth periods of the mid-twentieth century–war production and subsequent suburbanization.
[k2514] In Kansas City, Standard Steel responded to the [Fair Employment Practices Committee] by saying, “We have not had a Negro working in twenty-five years and do not plan to start now.”
[k2529] Servicemen with dishonorable discharges were ineligible for benefits under the G.I. Bill, and African American soldiers disproportionately received dishonorable discharges–some for protesting segregation in army towns.
[k2564] But an assessor can undermine tax fairness by using different percentages of market value in different communities. By doing this in the mid-twentieth century, city and county governments extracted excessive taxes from African Americans. These governments did so by overassessing properties in black neighborhoods and underassessing them in white ones.
[k2585] In a 1973 study of ten large U.S. cities, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) found a systematic pattern of overassessment in low-income African American neighborhoods, with corresponding underassessment in white middle-class neighborhoods.
[k2632] These higher costs accumulated throughout the twentieth century, making it more difficult for African Americans, even with stable employment, to save. Reduced savings made it less likely they could afford even modest down payments for houses in middle-class neighborhoods–were such homes made available to them.
[k2687] You might think that fifty years would be long enough to erase the effects of government promotion of and support for segregation. But the public policies of yesterday still shape the racial landscape of today.
[k2700] As it has turned out, schools are more segregated today than they were forty years ago, but this is mostly because the neighborhoods in which schools are located are so segregated.
[k2740] Just as the incomes of all working-class Americans, white and black, began to stagnate, single-family home prices began to soar.
[k2743] By the time the federal government decided finally to allow African Americans into the suburbs, the window of opportunity for an integrated nation had mostly closed.
[k2747] Most African American families–who were denied the opportunity to buy into Levittown or into the thousands of subdivisions like it across the country–remained renters, often in depressed neighborhoods, and gained no equity.
[k2763] The advantage that FHA and VA loans gave the white lower-middle class in the 1940s and ‘s has become permanent.
[k2766] Movement from lower ranks to the middle class in the national income distribution has always been difficult for all Americans. This reality challenges a fantasy we share: that children born into low-income families can themselves escape that status through hard work, responsibility, education, ambition, and a little luck. That myth is becoming less prevalent today, as more Americans become aware of how sticky our social-class positions are.
[k2824] If a child grows up in a poor neighborhood, moving up and out to a middle-class area is typical for whites but an aberration for African Americans.
[k2835] The cycle can be broken only by a policy as aggressive as that which created ghettos of concentrated poverty in the first place.
[k2848] Along with the mortgage interest deduction, another policy that on its face is race-neutral but has a discriminatory effect is our national transportation system.
[k2857] In 1975, when Maryland proposed a rail line to connect suburban Anne Arundel County and downtown Baltimore, white suburbanites pressed their political leaders to oppose the plan, which they did.
[k2863] In 2015, Maryland’s governor canceled a proposed rail link to Baltimore’s west-side black neighborhood, saying the funds were needed for highway improvements.
[k2969] I hesitate to offer suggestions about desegregation policies and remedies because, imprecise and incomplete though they may be, remedies are inconceivable as long as citizens, whatever their political views, continue to accept the myth of de facto segregation.
[k2981] One of the most commonly used American history textbooks is The Americans: Reconstruction to the 21st Century.
[k2983] The 2012 edition has this to say about residential segregation in the North: “African Americans found themselves forced into segregated neighborhoods.” That’s it.
[k2989] The authors do not mention that an enduring legacy of the HOLC was to color-code every urban neighborhood by race so that African Americans would have great difficulty getting mortgages. That the FHA suburbanized the entire nation on a whites-only basis is overlooked.
[k2993] United States History: Reconstruction to the Present, a 2016 textbook issued by the educational publishing giant Pearson, offers a similar account. It celebrates the FHA’s and VA’s support of single-family developments and gives Levittown as an example of suburbanization without disclosing that African Americans were excluded.
[k2996] Like The Americans, it employs the passive voice to avoid explaining segregation: “In the North, too, African Americans faced segregation and discrimination. Even where there were no explicit laws, de facto segregation, or segregation by unwritten custom or tradition, was a fact of life. African Americans in the North were denied housing in many neighborhoods.”
[k3002] With very rare exceptions, textbook after textbook adopts the same mythology. If middle and high school students are being taught a false history, is it any wonder that they come to believe that African Americans are segregated only because they don’t want to marry or because they prefer to live only among themselves? Is it any wonder that they grow up inclined to think that programs to ameliorate ghetto conditions are simply undeserved handouts?
[k3021] Observing that the federal government had imposed a suburban “white noose” around urban African American neighborhoods, Romney devised a program he called Open Communities that would deny federal funds (for water and sewer upgrades, green space, sidewalk improvements, and other projects for which HUD financial support is needed) to suburbs that hadn’t revised their exclusionary zoning laws to permit construction of subsidized apartments for lower-income African American families. The anger about Open Communities among voters in the Republican Party’s suburban base was so fierce that President Nixon reined in Romney, required him to repudiate his plan, and eventually forced him from office.
George Romney undertook his desegregation initiative only a few years after a series of civil rights measures had been enacted into law and after the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights leaders and activists.
[k3034] It is not difficult to conceive of ways to rectify the legacy of de jure segregation. In what follows, I’ll suggest a few, first some that could not be enacted in today’s political environment, and then some modest reforms that are still not politically possible but are within closer reach.
We might contemplate a remedy like this: Considering that African Americans comprise about 15 percent of the population of the New York metropolitan area, the federal government should purchase the next 15 percent of houses that come up for sale in Levittown at today’s market rates (approximately $350,000). It should then resell the properties to qualified African Americans for $75,000, the price (in today’s dollars) that their grandparents would have paid if permitted to do so.
[k3044] I present this not as a practical proposal but only to illustrate the kind of remedy that we would consider and debate if we disabused ourselves of the de facto segregation myth.
[k3057] Federal subsidies for middle-class African Americans to purchase homes in suburbs that have been racially exclusive are the most obvious incentive that could spur integration. Again, such assistance is both politically and judicially inconceivable today.
[k3064] ANOTHER REMEDY would be a ban on zoning ordinances that prohibit multifamily housing or that require all single-family homes in a neighborhood to be built on large lots with high minimum requirements for square footage.
[k3068] Alternatively, less extreme than an outright ban on exclusionary zoning, Congress could amend the tax code to deny the mortgage interest deduction to property owners in suburbs that do not have or are not taking aggressive steps to attract their fair share of low- and moderate-income housing, both multiunit and single family, whether for rental or sale.
[k3094] Montgomery County, Maryland, has a strong countywide inclusionary zoning ordinance. Like most such regulations, it requires developers in even the most affluent communities to set aside a percentage of units (in the case of Montgomery County, 12 to 15 percent) for moderate-income families. It then goes further: the public housing authority purchases a third of these set-aside units for rental to the lowest-income families. The program’s success is evidenced by the measurably higher achievement of low-income African American children who live and attend school in the county’s wealthiest suburbs.
[k3135] Several municipalities and states outlaw flat refusals by landlords to lease to Section 8 voucher families, and those jurisdictions seem to be making a bit more progress toward integration. To allow owners to claim they are not discriminating by race when renters are turned away solely because they are subsidized makes a mockery of the Fair Housing Act. Such discrimination should be prohibited everywhere.
[k3139] In 2015 approximately one million families had vouchers–but another 6 million who qualified went without them.
[k3142] The housing subsidy that the federal government gives to middle-class (mostly white) homeowners is an entitlement: any homeowner with enough income to file a detailed tax return can claim a deduction both for property taxes and mortgage insurance.
[k3163] In segregated areas, a project that purports to help revitalize the community should be approved only as part of a coordinated urban development program that includes transportation infrastructure, job creation, inclusionary zoning, supermarkets, community policing, and other characteristics of healthy neighborhoods.
[k3219] When Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that if residential segregation “is a product not of state action but of private choices, it does not have constitutional implications,” he set forth a principle.
[k3222] We need not argue with the chief justice’s principle; his jurisprudence is flawed mainly because he and his colleagues got their facts wrong.
[k3227] Because once entrenched, segregation is difficult to reverse, the easiest course is to ignore it.
[k3257] Undoing the effects of de jure segregation will be incomparably difficult. To make a start, we will first have to contemplate what we have collectively done and, on behalf of our government, accept responsibility.
[k3335] The idea that African Americans themselves don’t want to integrate is a white conceit. Many thousands of African Americans risked hostility, even violence, when daring to move into predominantly white neighborhoods.
[k3340] It is reasonable to expect that many, perhaps most African Americans will choose segregation unless they are welcomed into white communities whose interracial hospitality becomes widely known. Until then, African Americans’ avoidance of integration cannot be considered a free choice.
[k3355] Although nobody should be forced to move out of a segregated neighborhood if he or she chooses to remain, government creates many incentives to persuade people to abandon harmful behavior: we tax cigarettes heavily, we subsidize contributions that employees voluntarily make to their own retirement accounts, and we give commuters a faster lane if they choose to carpool.
[k3366] If we require, as we should, the Section 8 and Low-Income Housing Tax Credit programs to facilitate movement of low-income African American families into middle-class communities, those communities may experience an increase in crime. It is more likely to be petty than violent crime, and it won’t approach the violence visited upon African Americans to enforce their segregation. Nonetheless, pretending that integration can be cost-free dooms it to backlash when residents of middle-class communities realize they were duped. Integration cannot wait until every African American youth becomes a model citizen.
[k3385] By failing to acknowledge that a few whites might have to give up their places in an affirmative action program, we encourage any white student rejected by an elite university to feel victimized and to blame affirmative action for his or her failure.
[k3392] Remedying de jure segregation will be neither win-win nor neat.
[k3420] Most African American youths do take responsibility for their own success, and many work “twice as hard” to succeed. This responsibility and added effort frequently pay off–although the payoff is less than it is for whites. In 2014, of young (ages 25–29) adult African Americans, 21 percent of men and 24 percent of women were college graduates. High school completion rates are over 90 percent. This suggests that a focus on the antisocial behavior of a minority of African Americans is too convenient an excuse for not taking steps to integrate the majority.
[k3479] And we have no right to wait until every low-income and poorly educated mother develops perfect parenting skills before we move to desegregate metropolitan areas. Middle-class whites aren’t perfect caregivers either, but for their children to succeed, the mothers only have to be half as good.
[k3486] Although our history includes government-organized discrimination and even segregation of other groups, including Hispanics, Chinese, and Japanese, it was of a lesser degree, and is in the more distant past, than the de jure segregation experienced by African Americans.
[k3512] Yet horrific though our treatment of Mexican immigrants and Puerto Ricans has sometimes been, it is not comparable to our treatment of African Americans.