The effects of racial inequality are not confined to the past

This editorial column by Maria McCoy was published in the previous print edition of The GRIP.

I grew up in a middle class conservative Christian family. Because of this, I have had many advantages; however, it would be remiss of me to fail to mention the disadvantages as well.

First, let me say that I attended a high school that was racially diverse. I interacted with different races and cultures, as well. I developed my own thoughts and ideas, or so I thought, of how things really were. You see, I was taught to accept that slavery and discrimination were real – these two things were real and caused massive amounts of pain and suffering in the “earlier” days of our nation.

I was also taught that those effects were long lasting, even into the 60s and 70s. I never realized that the effects are still occurring in 2018. In fact, my thought process has primarily focused on the fact that racism of this magnitude cannot possibly still exist, not all these years later. I mean, schools are integrated. Workplaces are integrated. Racism just cannot exist anymore. But I was wrong, and that was my true disadvantage.

My constitutional law professor required us to choose a book from her list so that we would be more familiar with the process of equal protection litigation. I happened to choose “The Color of Law” by Richard Rothstein. This book has been incredibly eye-opening, and I highly recommend that you read it if you truly want to understand the way our government has systematically kept the African-American race held back. The book is not subjective, but objective and factual.

The author details specific events to provide an inside look at various aspects of our history, starting with the way our government declared slaves to be non-citizens and the property of another, so they could not sue for their own freedom or maltreatment. He then moved on to how our government intentionally segregated citizens by creating regulations that refused to back loans for mortgages sought by black people, and how black people were not allowed to live in white neighborhoods at all. The book details how our police forces during that same time stood idly by while homes were blown up, broken into and vandalized with no arrests.

This book includes stories of black men who succeeded, but not without significant difficulties. There is a theme to the book, and that is the overreaching effect of this de facto segregation that continues to this day.

The economic boom that brought much needed relief in the form of wages back to the people did not include black workers. While white people were steadily increasing in wealth, black people were working for pennies to the dollar made by white people.

Legislation aimed to protect and regulate labor specifically excluded African-Americans and the fields that were primarily worked by black people.

When black people tried to integrate into white neighborhoods for better opportunities for their children, white people were there to burn crosses in their yards and threaten the safety of their homes. We drove black people back to neighborhoods that were poverty stricken, where the income was lower and opportunities scarce. It isn’t that these families were not getting wages. On the contrary, black people made up a huge portion of our work force at that time, but they were paid lower wages and taxed at higher rates intentionally, because our government wanted to ensure they could not afford to move out of those neighborhoods.

Our history books do not even tell the true story of how housing was denied to black families, resulting in the creation of these low income neighborhoods in the first place. The history books may briefly mention the pay gap between white and black workers, but the books fail to mention how the economic disadvantages of parents traditionally move to children, as if economics were truly genetic. The history books will not teach our children that black people were denied even minor loans to build homes on property they already owned.

With books that lack these basic details, it is no wonder we are raising kids to believe everyone in America was afforded the same opportunities, and that black people could do better if only they wanted to.

I believe this contributes to the racial disparity we see today. These types of beliefs contribute to the rioting that comes when a police officer is not indicted for shooting or killing a black person, because in the age of the Ku Klux Klan, states adamantly refused to arrest anybody who killed a black person or who vandalized and blew up a home.

Instead, if you really go back and research, states perpetually arrested black families for inciting riots simply because they dared to attempt to live in a primarily white neighborhood. So, now when an officer shoots a black person – whether it is justified or not – and is not indicted or even arrested, there will be rioting. Because white people do not understand (or maybe even care to understand) the long-lasting effects of de facto segregation, and black people cannot see past it. And why would they? Because our government – state and federal – has always made it clear that the citizens who matter are white.

I’m sure many of you are shaking your heads now but do the research. Legitimately, do the research if you truly want to understand, and if you don’t truly want to understand, you’ll chalk me up as another snowflake and continue to believe that the constitution made everybody equal and so POOF! Inequality and racism and discrimination no longer exist.

And look, this is not to say all of America is racist. This is not to say that white people are all racist or that all conservatives are racist. (Remember, I am a conservative.) This is to say that those who genuinely wish to provoke change will seek out a way to understand where the differences lay, and they will seek to bridge the gap. We can continue to live in willful blindness to what our nation has done to this race, or we can choose to educate ourselves to the plight of African-Americans and then seek to institute real change. We can try to understand that we intentionally and then unintentionally caused pain and suffering to people who were not white.

We can stop saying things like, “Well, Obama is black, so obviously black people have the same opportunities,” and, “Look at Oprah and Jesse Jackson! They’re rich,” because you know as well as I do that those people are all the exception, and the unspoken rule that our government has ruled by is that black people do not deserve and will not ever have the same equality white people have.

If you do not believe me, look around your town. Look around areas that are primarily black neighborhoods. Look at several of the schools that are primarily black because zoning requirements were created and institutionalized to keep schools as segregated as neighborhoods. Do you see the difference?

And yes, there are great stories of successful black people. I am not discounting that at all, and I really, truly hope that none of my readers will think I am. I am merely saying that statistically, the struggle of a black person to overcome the prejudices of our nation is much greater than the struggle of a white person. Racial segregation deserves – and requires – a more heightened scrutiny to promote change. Yes, obviously there are poor people on both sides, but look, really look, at the differences in poor white neighborhoods and poor black neighborhoods. Take your rose-colored glasses off. Look into your heart and see the truth. We shouldn’t even have sides to choose from. We are all one nation.

If you are a person who has gone through a similar epiphany, I’m proud of you for being able to step outside of the box you were taught to stay inside. The bottom line is this – a nation that routinely fails to acknowledge our own part in the separation of races will never truly progress. A nation that continues to allow segregation via zoning regulations will never progress. A nation that fails to rezone school districts to truly integrate schools, will not progress. We will be stagnant, just like we are right this minute.


  1. You make it sound like there isn’t far more resources to non-whites. Plus the table is not one sided, far from it. I grew up in a black neighborhood, seeing Louis Farrakhan’s followers marching with the NAACP with signs saying kill the white devil. Getting picked on by blacks growing up and even the school resource officer telling students that whites don’t need a education, but blacks do. Hatred runs both ways.

    • tolleystopics says:

      You are absolutely correct, Jay. Hatred does run both ways. The sad part is….innocent children would solve the problem if their minds could remain uncontaminated by hateful grown people. Have you ever watched small children play together? They do not see through racial eyes. They smile, laugh, share…it is a beautiful sight to behold. BUT then….they grow up in a world that constantly discusses Slavery, the KKK, BLM, Gangs, White Privilege, etc. History should never die…but it should not be relived by every generation. Revisited in History classes, not relived. The Bible has an Old and a New Testament….we need to find a New Testament for the lives of our children. But…parents will not allow that to happen.

  2. tolleystopics says:

    I love reading…what other books were on your law professor’s allowed list?

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