Not All People of Color Are Created* Equal (still more thoughts on “The Case for Reparations” and the Shaping of Modern Unitarian Universalism)

I didn’t think I was saying anything particularly radical in my last two posts. This is the United States after all and history has shown that African Americans really have been treated differently. As I am fond of saying…nothing new to see here.

But what has really made me see stars is the following thought….

We also have tended to see race in black and white terms and been rude and dismissive to the Latinos and Asian Americans in our midst.

All due respect to my Asian American and Latino readers [and to the person who wrote that statement], but not all people of color are created* equal. Do I think public policy has treated any people of color all that great? Nope. And you won’t ever hear me say that.

But my last two posts were my ruminations about how public policy, AS IT RELATES TO HOUSING, affected (and affects) the shape of modern Unitarian Universalism.

In the late 1930’s, as Detroit grew outward, white families began to settle near a black enclave adjacent to Eight Mile Road. By 1940, the black residents were surrounded, but neither they nor the whites could get FHA insurance because of the proximity of an inharmonious racial group. So, in 1941, an enterprising white developer built a concrete wall between the white and black areas. The FHA appraisers then took another look and approved the mortgages on the white properties. [thanks to the Fair Housing Center for giving the link where this was]

Did the FHA redline Latinos and Asian Americans out of certain neighborhoods? Did they not give (or more technically, back/secure) loans to whites who lived too close to Latinos or Asian Americans?

Restrictive covenants were a slightly different story. I’m sure that on the west coast, Asian Americans were probably undesirables on/in some of the covenants. Just as I’m sure that in the southwest Latinos were probably undesirables on/in some covenants. And Jews come up on some [I’ve seen a couple of these]. Yet there was only one group that was on every covenant: African Americans. And there is a reason that African Americans are on every covenant….public policy through the FHA.

Again, I don’t think I’m saying anything radical. TNC’s article just gave me a new way of looking at something that had confused me. I do think that public policy as it relates to housing is a factor in the shaping of modern Unitarian Universalism (I might even go so far as to say that it was a major factor, along with WWII itself). Hence, another piece of the puzzle as to why modern Unitarian Universalism is the way it is–and where it is where it is– slots into place for me. If my rumination doesn’t work for you, fine.


*—before you comment about my use of the word “created” with the very tired trope that race is a socially constructed concept, I know that. That is why I used the word created. If race is socially constructed, then the use of public policy in regards to people of color means that some groups of people of color are treated better than others. Meaning not all people of color are created equal.


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