Systematically Isolated

Addison Sarter
3 min readJun 29, 2020

In the early 1900’s, the mayor of Baltimore stated “Blacks should be quarantined in isolated slums.” This became the mission of the American government. Congress created the Federal Housing Administration(FHA) in 1934. Between the 1930s through the 1960s, black people across the country were prevented from buying homes and moving out of these slums. This was done through bombings, lynchings, and the policy called “redlining.” The Fair Housing Center of Boston, defines redlining as, “the practice of denying or limiting financial services to certain neighborhoods based on racial or ethnic composition without regard to the residents’ qualifications or creditworthiness.” The FHA would color the black neighborhoods on maps,red, as a way to show that loans should not be given to those neighborhoods. This was done to prevent loans and other resources from going out to the black community. A 1943 brochure from the National Association of Real Estate Board included a list of people to prevent from buying homes in certain neighborhoods. One of the groups of people included on that list was “a colored man of means who was giving his children a college education and thought they were entitled to live among whites.” Historically, owning your own home has been the “American Dream.” It has been one of the main ways to build wealth in America. During the same time when black families were being denied the opportunity to build wealth for themselves, the FHA handed out millions of dollars through social programs to mainly white families in order for them to receive loans for homes. These government handouts helped launch millions of white Americans into the middle class.

The original Home Owners’ Loan Corporation map of Durham, dated July 23, 1937. The Red areas were mainly Black Neighborhoods. National Archives.

To this day housing segregation still exists. A 2012 study done by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Urban Institute, reported that real estate agents showed blacks and latinos fewer homes and properties than whites. The study also showed that blacks and latinos were only shown homes and properties in certain neighborhoods. A study from 2018 confirmed this as well. Despite being banned 50 years ago, redlining is still affecting blacks and other minorities.

In America, we have been conditioned to use euphemisms for what the country does to minorities. For example, instead of labeling it economic warfare, an act of war, or a military blockade,it is called“redlining”. The vast majority of low-income African American and Latino neighborhoods are simply the effects of 70 years of a military blockade by the United States of America. The process of blocking communities from resources, has been used as a weapon of war for thousands of years. When a country isolates and blocks a community from capital, credit, and even healthy food for 70 years, that is an act of war.

Urban Renewal

M]ost Northern cities are now engaged…in something called urban renewal, which means moving the Negroes out. It means Negro removal, that is what it means.”- James Baldwin

By 1950, the government sponsored process of urban renewal, tore down and destroyed many black homes and businesses. Many black families were displaced and had to live in the housing projects. D.C. was not exempt from urban renewal.

Before the 1950’s Southwest, D.C. was home to an affluent black community, where blacks owned their own homes and businesses. The Federal government decided that it had the right to seize property to better the community. These homes and businesses were torn down and thousands upon thousands of blacks residents were displaced.