Dr. David J. Leonard: White Denial and Black Middle-Class Reality – Part 2

White Denial and Black Middle-Class Reality – Part 2

Denial is a fixture of contemporary racial discourse. Reflecting segregation and the entrenched nature of white privilege, the efforts to deny through citing a mythical black middle-class, as if the black middle-class reveals some post-racial reality, defies the facts on the ground. It defies the realities of America’s housing situation.


A 2012 study entitled, Price Discrimination in the Housing Market, found that like the poor paying more for various goods and services, the black middle class pays more for a home:

No matter what the ultimate reason for the price premium, our results imply that systematic, robust racial differences in the price paid to buy a home – on the order of 3 percent on average in multiple major US markets – persist to the present day, long after many of the most overt forms of institutional discrimination have been eliminated. Considering the average purchase price paid by a black homebuyer in our sample is $177,000, this translates to an average premium of about $5,000 per transaction, a substantial amount given the average income of black households in these cities.

The costs of racism on the black middle-class are evident in the difficulty in securing home loans. For African American joining and remaining part of the middle-class is a precarious and difficult task because of racism. According to a report in the New York Times, black homeowners otherwise eligible for traditional fixed rate 30-year mortgages often had subprime loans. In NYC, it “found that black households making more than $68,000 a year were nearly five times as likely to hold high-interest subprime mortgages as whites of similar or even lower incomes. (The disparity was greater for Wells Fargo borrowers, as 2 percent of whites in that income group hold subprime loans and 16.1 percent of blacks).”

Additionally, Joe Weisenthal, with Did Racist Subprime Lending Cause The New York Foreclosure Crisis? notes that according Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shawn Donovan, “Roughly 33 percent of the subprime mortgages given out in New York City in 2007, Mr. Donovan said, went to borrowers with credit scores that should have qualified them for conventional prevailing-rate loans.” Differential access to different types of loans has huge financial cost. “These practices took a great toll on customers, Weisenthal notes. “For a homeowner taking out a $165,000 mortgage, a difference of three percentage points in the loan rate — a typical spread between conventional and subprime loans — adds more than $100,000 in interest payments.” As noted in the article, the prospect of paying an extra 700 dollars a month over 27 years highlights the financial cost and burden resulting from subprime loans.

Housing discrimination in all its forms demonstrates the precluded benefits of middle-class status to many African American families, but the ways in which racism is shrinking the size of the black middle-class. Evident in foreclosures, the resulting lost wealth, and the overall financial burden of racism, a Black middle class is bound to be fundamentally different from a white middle class.

The consequences of these historic and ongoing practices of discrimination are clear. “Segregation of neighborhoods and communities often means, for African Americans, less access to schools with excellent resources, key job networks, quality public services such as hospital care and quality housing,” writes Joe Feagin and Kathryn McKinney in The Many Costs of Racism. “The later factors, less access to quality housing, also limits the ability of African American families to build upon substantial housing equity, a major source for the wealth passed along by families for several generations.” These are the costs of racism for all African Americans.

Continue reading @ Dr. David J. Leonard: White Denial and Black Middle-Class Reality – Part 2.

NewBlackMan: The Frontstage is the New Backstage: Racism in the Public Square

The Frontstage is the New Backstage: Racism in the Public Square

by David J. Leonard | NewBlackMan

Three stories have captured the imagination of social media recently.

A Buffalo High school suspended several members of the basketball team because its members allegedly regularly chant racial epithets prior to each game. As reported in the Buffalo News, “Tyra Batts, the sole African-American on the Kenmore East High School’s squad,” said “her teammates would hold hands before the game, say a prayer and then shout “One, two, three (n——).’” Batts, who was suspended because of her involvement in a fight resulting from the repeated use of the N-Word by her teammates, disputed claims that it “was just a joke.” The efforts to defend its usage and to deny the racist and violent history have set off anger and debate throughout the web.

“Remember all of those debates we’ve had about whether or not the n-word is just another word?,” writes Britini Danielle. “Usually, our conversations dealt with white and non-black rappers and entertainers using the word ‘as a term of endearment,’ but this time we’re heading into the tricky world of high school.”

Not to be outdone, a P.h.D student at Rutgers University invited her white classmates to a screening of the Disney Classic Song of the South. An editorial in The Daily Targum describes the circumstances as follows:

This email invited “her fellow non-racist racists” to a private, guilt-free viewing of 1946 musical Song of the South in her home, where together they could engage in celebratory mocking of stereotyped 1940’s images of southern blacks. This was an event hosted by a “ragtime/minstrel loving fool” who was due “for some rollicking Disneyfied Ole Darkeyism.” The postscript read, “If you do come, hooch is most welcome, as are straw hats and other Darkeyisms. I might even buy a watermillyum if I get enough interest.” It specified who invited guests should bring, given that “I might yell racist things at the TV.” The author of this email articulated the hope that the experience would be a “communion with her shamefully preferred era of Disney.”

The celebration of dehumanizing representations, the efforts to create a segregated space, and the replication of longstanding stereotypes provoked outrage, condemnation, and ample conversation on Facebook and Twitter. Citing it as evidence of the absurdity of a “post-racial America,” the instance became another moment to protest the persistence of white supremacist ideologies within contemporary America.

Yet, none of the outrage would compare to the anger, protests, and denunciation that has followed Gene Marks ode to paternalism in Forbes Magazine. In “If I Were A Poor Black Kid,” Marks provides “advice” that rehashes bootstraps ideology all while playing on longstanding stereotypes about black laziness and disinterest in schooling. Following in the footsteps of Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump, Marks recycles those arguments that link black unemployment and poverty rates to work ethic and personal choice.

His comments have produced a strew of commentaries that have condemned the article for its arrogance, paternalism, and overall erasure of structural inequalities. “Mr. Gene just wants to give us some of that patented #WhiteLove™ that he has laying around the house,” writes Elon James White. “With a healthy sprinkling, poor ignorant black children can rise above their station into the magical world of reasonable participation in society! Mr. Marks has a step-by-step booklet for you to get your school game on track, not your wig pushed back … by poverty.” James, like so many of the responses, identified the arguments offered in Forbes as not a peripheral aberration but instead a central white racial frame within contemporary culture. Evident in The Help and The Blindside, reflected in political and academic discourses, and central to white racial framing, the narrative focus on black pathological failures and the potential through better parenting, better choices, and better work ethic, guides American racial discourse.

via NewBlackMan: The Frontstage is the New Backstage: Racism in the Public Square.