Mark Winston Griffith
Nooses and Neckties: Updating Racial Justice
As nasty as the image of a noose hanging on a professor's door at Columbia University is, a far more chilling thought for me these days is the idea of thousands of people losing their homes to subprime loans.
This past week the press seemed to finally wake up to the seamier side of predatory lending, which is the impact this is having on black communities in New York. For instance, on Monday the New York Times reported on a new study issued by NYU's Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy showing that "[h]ome buyers in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods in New York were more likely to get their mortgages last year from a subprime lender than home buyers in white neighborhoods with similar income levels..."
How many reports need to be issued and how many maps illustrating the racial steering occurring in mortgage lending and other financial service sectors need to be generated before 'no justice, no peace" type of of outrage becomes the popular and visceral response of the day? I'm not talking about the well choreographed ACORN demonstrations against Countrywide, for instance, but genuine grassroots indignation that grips the city by the throat and makes it impossible to continue business as usual?
Allow me a little bit of rhetorical drama, but unscrupulous brokers and financial institutions - men in suits and ties - who specifically target neighborhoods of color are modern day lynch mobs, terrorizing families and brazenly burning down homes and chasing away economic security. Until this analogy penetrates the popular consciousness, some of the most dangerous threats to black and latino communities will continue.