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A history of the black ghetto in the united states

They were, primarily in cities of the Northeast and Midwest, formed during the first half of the 20th century. That formation came as a direct result of specifically racist government policies, economic and labor factors that drastically disadvantaged black workers, and actual racial violence that made it impossible for blacks to live in other neighborhoods. These factors created many conditions for the urban uprisings of the sixties.

Putting it simply, the American ghetto exists almost entirely a result of intentional state action and extra-legal white supremacist violence. In the first half of the 20th century, the black population went from a mostly rural, southern population to an urban, northern one.

In 1900, about 90 percent of the black population lived in the south, with a majority in rural areas. By 1970, however, about 70 percent lived in cities, a majority in the north.

African-American neighborhood

A complicated set of factors created what became known as the Great Migration, but a fundamental force was the fact that white laborers in the north were unionizing. To cut costs, factory owners began to actively recruit black male labor from the south. They knew they could pay these men lower wages than their white counterparts and could also be confident that their hiring of black men was unlikely to result in interracial working class resistance to the overall lowering of wages.

In the early 1920s, a eugenics movement belief in natural biological differences between race groups was on the rise. Separation was not only the law, it was considered by many whites to be the moral and just thing to do about race relations. Unions at this time were racially exclusive and had shown a commitment to this type of organizing and maintenance of the color line.

Most white laborers were simply too racist to ever effectively join with black people to fight together for better working conditions and wages.

  1. They were confined to the worst neighborhoods, while also earning significantly less money than their white counterparts. Dynamics of low-wage service and unemployment triggered from deindustrialization , and the intergenerational diffusion of status within families and neighborhoods, for instance, prove the rise in socioeconomic polarization between classes to be the creator of American ghetto; not racism.
  2. On June 21, 1943, Heinrich Himmler issued a decree ordering the dissolution of all ghettos in the East and their transformation into Nazi concentration camps.
  3. Churches in Harlem have undertaken real estate ventures and renovated burnt-out and abandoned brownstones to create new housing for residents.
  4. The more dominant view, on the other hand, is represented by class-based theorists. In some cases, the ghetto was a Jewish quarter with a relatively affluent population for instance the Jewish ghetto in Venice.
  5. Demonstrations against a black family moving into an all-white neighborhood in Folcroft, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, in 1963.

Demonstrations against a black family moving into an all-white neighborhood in Folcroft, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, in 1963. As they arrived north in greater numbers, they were met with severe racial violence in neighborhoods and at work.

Given the dominant white supremacist view that simply touching a black body could ultimately lead to disease, whites fiercely defended their property and neighborhoods.

The Rise and Decline of the American Ghetto

Neighborhood boundaries became racial boundaries. Racial residential segregation rose to levels never seen before in the United States — doubling between 1880 and 1940, with most of that growth focused in cities.

The second was a crisis of capital, as rising wages for white males were perceived by factory owners as a threat to profitability. This put black laborers in an impossible position. They were confined to the worst neighborhoods, while also earning significantly less money than their white counterparts. But white violence and unequal economic conditions were not the only factors.

Specific racist government policies made it much easier to maintain the color line. Racial exclusions were written into property deeds, allowing homeowners to ensure their property would only be sold to other whites for a set period of time — typically over many decades.

The Supreme Court declared these racially restrictive covenants illegal in 1948, but in many locales the practice continued unabated due to exceedingly lax enforcement at the municipal level. The 1964 Civil Rights Act was intended to address these issues once and for all, but was effectively hamstrung by Southern Democrats, a powerful voting bloc that watered down any civil rights policy coming out of Congress. And without southern voters, the Democratic Party had little chance of winning the White House.

The Democratic coalition that essentially dominated national politics from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Lyndon B.

Understanding America

Johnson relied on placating racists in order to rule. Federally backed home loan programs were the other primary way in which the state actively fostered segregation. Starting in the 1930s and continuing for several decades, the federal government underwrote home loans that created mass suburbanization and a dramatic rise in homeownership rates.

But these loans were not distributed fairly. Postwar suburban expansion was aided by the implementation of 30-year mortgages. Future government loan programs during the pre-Civil Rights era adopted this reasoning. Private lending and insurance companies soon followed suit.

Federal standards conspired to not only make it nearly impossible for black families to leave the cities, but made it much easier for white families to do so and build equity and generational wealth along the way.

Meanwhile an important innovation in housing policy was taking place — the 30-year mortgage with a small down payment. Prior to this era, the terms of home loans were shorter — sometimes 10 years or less, which meant higher mortgage payments. For working class whites prior to the New Deal, homeownership was simply not financially possible. With the introduction of the 30-year mortgage, ownership opened up to Americans like it never had before. Not only was it appealing to move out of overcrowded cities there had been a moratorium on new home construction during World War IIbut homeownership was a potential route to wealth accumulation.

For the white working classes, it was the main route. It was a chance to have something to pass down to the next generation. To the extent that any federally backed money went into ghettos, it was mostly put to the task of slum clearance. Many buildings were torn down, some never to be rebuilt, at least not for the purposes of housing. As a result, in many places, rents actually rose in the ghetto as whites moved to the suburbs.

Legalized discrimination through ‘redlining’ was still very much allowed by the summer of 1967

They were barred from potential wealth accumulation through federal home loans. They were confined to neighborhoods not of their choosing. Their experience with government was through policing, inadequate schools, slum clearance, and legalized discrimination. The Fair Housing Act was not passed until 1968. Legalized discrimination in housing was still very much allowed by the summer of 1967.

Newark row houses under various stages of clearance in 1980, 1985, and 1987. But this connection, however tenuous, was severed. Working-class whites were increasingly becoming homeowners living in different political jurisdictions.

When marginalization happens on such a severe scale, oppressed groups often begin to feel that they owe no obligation to the society that created their condition. And severely marginalized populations who do not see routine politics as a route to solving the problems of their lives often resort to politics by other means.

Urban uprising is politics by other means.