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THINK YOU CHOSE WHERE YOU WANTED TO LIVE? THINK AGAIN

Sue O'Halloran Race Equity Speaker and Story Artist

3 min read

Apr 9

39

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#FairHousingMonth

The Second Wave of Segregation:

The Federal Government Gets Involved

 

With the isolated Black and White areas in place by the 1930s, many U.S. cities moved into their second wave of segregation. In the 1940s, U.S. Congress gave cities huge federal grants to acquire rundown urban areas. With that money, the cities bought up the mostly Black “slums” (that it had been instrumental in creating in the first place), tore them down, and, then, handed the land to developers who were supposed to build enough replacement housing for the people who had lived there. Well, we know how that story ended.


Instead of being relocated back into their home neighborhoods, many U.S. cities housed displaced people in public housing towers that violated all federal standards for density. The hyper-segregation of today’s cities could not have been sealed without the help of local and federal governments and this second wave of segregation which eventually created large, fortress-like, all-Black areas. 


Those displaced by “Urban Renewal” and those dislocated by public housing construction, provided real estate agents with a steady stream of desperate people searching for homes. These people became the fodder for the real estate agents’ block-busting schemes (“Buy low from the White people, sell high to the Blacks”) that forced many White people to leave homes and communities they loved.


In a modern-day Machiavellian scheme, one group was played against another and everyone lost except for the unscrupulous business people who made millions and the politicians who had now fashioned separate, more easily manipulated voting blocks.


Well, things are different today, right? Unfortunately, that isn’t so. Even though housing laws have changed, rather than being a break from our past, our current living patterns are the next reincarnation in a continual thread of inequality.


Today, we’re experiencing a third wave of segregation, based on economics, needing no conscious ill-intent from any person or any group of people, and, yet, this third wave can have the same effect as the last two waves by locking in poverty and segregation in our country for the next hundred years.


Make no mistake; there is still blatant discrimination. Some realtors still steer families to segregated neighborhoods. Some mortgage officers still refuse loans for racial, ethnic, and religious reasons. Some insurance agents still quote prices unfairly. These individual, illegal examples are serious. 

But even more dangerous is the invisible segregation of today, precisely because it needs no ill-intent and can be so hard to see. For the most part, we do not have the cross burnings, mob violence, bullying realtors, and obvious unrestrained greed of old. However, we do have tax structures, public policies, and private business practices that are increasing the gulf between the have’s and the have-nots in this society at an alarming rate.


Last month, in March of 2024, the Child Opportunity Index released by researchers at Brandeis University in Boston reported that Black and Latino children in the U.S. are more likely than White children to grow up in neighborhoods with “poorer health outcomes, fewer educational opportunities, and worsening economic conditions.”


How is this still happening?


(Read next week’s article: Today - The Third Wave of Housing Segregation)


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You may reprint this article with proper credit: Written by Sue O’Halloran at www.SusanOHalloran.com

 

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Sue’s one-woman show, Dividing Lines: The Education of a White Girl in 10 Rounds, is available for download at: https://www.susanohalloran.com/product-page/dividing-lines-the-education-of-a-chicago-white-girl-in-10-rounds

 

“Sue tells a hundred-year history of segregated housing in Chicago that rings true for major cities across the country. Dividing Lines helps make sense of racial tension and lack of opportunity we experience today. I can’t believe I never learned this history!”

 

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If you know someone who is part of an organization that wants to focus on equity issues, would you send this article to them or tell them about O’Halloran Diversity Productions? They can reach us at susan@susanohalloran.com and we will set up a short conversation to see if we can be of help to them. Thanks in advance!

 


 



 

Sue O'Halloran Race Equity Speaker and Story Artist

3 min read

Apr 9

39

0

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