Blame Dixie? Not So Fast

confed-bho

SHOCKING TO SEE THIS IN THE WASHINGTON POST:  It’s Not Dixie’s Fault.

Thomas J. Sugrue writes:

These crude regional stereotypes ignore the deep roots such social ills have in our shared national history and culture. If, somehow, the South became its own country, the Northeast would still be a hub of racially segregated housing and schooling, the West would still be a bastion of prejudicial laws that put immigrants and black residents behind bars at higher rates than their white neighbors and the Midwest would still be full of urban neighborhoods devastated by unemployment, poverty and crime. How our social problems manifest regionally is a matter of degree, not kind — they infect every region of the country.

In fact, many of the racial injustices we associate with the South are actually worse in the North. Housing segregation between black and white residents, for instance, is most pervasive above the Mason-Dixon line. Of America’s 25 most racially segregated metropolitan areas, just five are in the South; Northern cities — Detroit, Milwaukee and New York — top the list. Segregation in Northern metro areas has declined a bit since 1990, but an analysis of 2010 census data found that Detroit’s level of segregation, for instance, is nearly twice as high as Charleston’s.

The division between black and white neighborhoods in the North is a result of a poisonous mix of racist public policies and real estate practices that reigned unchecked for decades. Until the mid-20th century, federal homeownership programs made it difficult for black Americans to get mortgages and fueled the massive growth of whites-only suburbs. Real estate agents openly discriminated against black aspiring homeowners, refusing to show them houses in predominately white communities.

When all else failed, white Northerners attacked blacks who attempted to cross the color line, using tactics we typically associate with the Jim Crow South. They threw bricks through the windows of their black neighbors’ homes, firebombed an integrated apartment building and beat black residents in the streets. In Detroit, to name one example, whites launched more than 200 attacks on black homeowners between 1945 and 1965.

Read the rest of this entry »