Class Claims: Real Estate Racism


Chapter 12 of Class Matters is about racism in real estate, and how class is used to reinforce race.

She discusses her experiences trying to buy property in California, Florida and New York. NYC, one of the most ethnically diverse city in the world, and yet is still so ethnically and racially segregated. And class is used to reinforce this.

She mentions two trends. That when a neighborhood gets to 8% non-white, white flight starts. That when a neighborhood is seen as trendy, and the liberal upper class start moving in, they drive the non-white poor out by driving up prices beyond what they can pay. In this way whites are taking over traditionally black and latin neighborhoods like Harlem and Davis. Even white gays and lesbians, in finding neighborhoods for themselves, drive out racial diversity this way.

There is a lot more to the chapter, but not easy to summarize here.  So let me just use this as a place for a local digression. Here in Kansas City the city has at various times offered downpayment grants in specific neighborhoods to convince working class people to buy within the city and keep neighborhoods viable instead of allowing flight of their money to ghettoize the neighborhoods. I don’t have stats to know what effect that has on the racialization of the neighborhoods. For us, I know it kept white diversity in the city, but it could as easily help mobile blacks and latins and so forth settle in these neighborhoods.

But what I do know, from overheard conversations at church by realtors in the congregation, is that they are often asked subtle questions about the racialism of a particular neighborhood, and they comply fully both with the law and the morality of those laws to not discriminate or bias people based on race in housing. Hooks chapter talks about how subtle word of mouth in those big cities kept neighborhoods segregated.  If the people I know here is true of the area in general, that isn’t the case where I live.


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