Google+ Followers

Blog Catalog

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Steve Kraske and the Really Excellent Proposal

They printed it yesterday.

Image result for kc photog blog jc nichols fountain

Nichols was all about enduring legacies.

He was about something else, too. Like others of his time, he was a racist who went to great lengths to ensure that racial and religious minorities could not live in his neighborhoods. Nichols championed restrictive deeds that dictated the types of people who could move in.

Our own UMKC points this out very well---and we all know it.

And sure, the Federal Government had their hand in it, as we also know, but that doesn't make it right, either. Here's a great bit of local background from way over in the UK with their BBC.

The US government had a hand in creating this segregation due to practices it instituted back in the 1930s, which prevented many blacks from getting on the property ladder in certain areas.

When the federal government began underwriting home loans for Americans to help boost the economy as part of the New Deal, strict guidelines were drawn up regarding where mortgages could be issued.

Areas where minorities lived were seen as risky investments and black families were routinely denied mortgages, locking them out of the housing market.

The practice was known as redlining because red ink marked out the minority areas. As Kansas City-based historian Bill Worley explained to me, these policies continued right into the 1960s, and excluded African Americans from one of the greatest motors of wealth in the 20th Century - home ownership.

And here's why all this history, from "way back when" is still pertinent and important today. In the first place, it's not that long ago and second, its effects still permeate the city, to this day:

Redlining is now theoretically outlawed in the United States, and has been since the 1970s, but it's still happening to this day.

"Banks continue to build and structure their lending operations in a way that avoids or fails to meaningfully serve communities of colour, based on assumptions about the financial risk," Vanita Gupta, the justice department's top civil rights lawyer, said last September, as she pledged more action to stop discriminatory lending.

Another factor which made access to housing prohibitive were the restrictive racial covenants written into housing contracts.

Until 1948, it was perfectly legal for a black person to be prevented from buying or living in a house.

Here's where the JC Nichols part comes in.

Bill Worley showed me an example of a restrictive racial covenant drawn up in Kansas City by the city's best known property developer during that time, JC Nichols.

"None of the said lots shall be conveyed to, used, owned nor occupied by Negroes as owner or tenants," it read. Other groups, including Jews, were also written into these kind of contracts.

So not only was JC Nichols racist, provenly, but he was racist against not just Blacks, not just one race, but two.

It can't be emphasized enough why this is still resonant today.

White people don't want to recognize this, first, let alone accept it and then, what few do think it only has to do with where one lives. That's not it at all. This, then, where you live effects where you work, how much your paid, what schools your children go to, everything. It very directly effects what your family will earn, in wages, where, again, you work, what and how you learn at school, who you socialize with, everything. It's not just housing, no way, though that's bad enough.

Check out these statistics on Kansas City.

>Pct. of population living in segregated areas: 37.8%
> Black poverty rate: 26.4%
> White poverty rate: 8.3%
> Black unemployment rate: 13.4%

> White unemployment rate: 5.6% 

Roughly 765,000 Kansas City residents — or 37.8% of the city’s population — live in a homogeneous zip code, or where at least 80% of residents share the same skin color or ethnicity, the ninth highest proportion in the country. Out of the 166 zip codes that make up the Kansas City metro area, 123 are home to predominantly white residents. White city residents have very little interaction with the city’s black residents. Of all the people a white person comes into contact with in the area, only 5.5% are black, significantly less frequent than the similar figure of 12.8% of contacts across the 50 largest metro areas. Segregation like this can have very discernible consequences. White households earn nearly twice the median income of black households. Three of the area’s zip codes are home to 15.9% of the metro’s black population, and the median household income in each is less than $30,000 annually. More than 26% of the metro area’s black population lives in poverty, slightly less than the national poverty rate among black Americans but more than three times as high as the poverty rate among the city’s white residents of 8.3%. School systems are also affected by segregation. While one-third of all metro area residents have at least a bachelor’s degree, in zip codes that are home to predominantly black residents, less than 12% of adults have a college degree. Read more at 24/7 Wall St.

Here, briefly, why segregation is so very, deeply wrong and why we still, to this day, need to recognize and

I have to say, I salute, again, Steve Kraske for writing and our own Kansas City Star for putting out such an article. In the first place, it surprised me. Usually the media and people in it like and want to go the safe, quiet route. 

This is not doing that at all. 

Instead of just asking the question of if we should do this, too, Mr. Kraske puts it right out there, that we should definitely, unequivocally rename our revered fountain.

So kudos, Mr. Kraske and the Star. Now, let the conversations commence.

Please check your racism at the door. (Along with your ignorance of the city's history. And any and all ugliness and hate).


No comments: