Paul Kersey at SBPDL has been informing us better than anyone about the housing merry-go-round on which Afros and Euros have been riding for forty years.
Humans have a way of sniffing out their own interests, platitudes be damned. If you want to know what a man believes, don't watch his lips; watch his feet. The young urban White may boast of his 'edgy' neighborhood (enduring daily street crime makes him more authentic), but come baby-making time, he finds his way to paler pastures with startling speed. The only 'diversity' which interests him past this point is of the Chinese, Indian, or talented-tenth Mulatto variety.
Given that this gentleman cheers the loudest about the joys of racial mixing, and weeps the most bitterly before maps like these,
...whence this paradox? While his mouth is singing 'Fair Housing Act' hosannas, his feet are doing the 'Restrictive Covenant' two-step.
We know why: Afros bring down property values. And for good reason. From a Euro perspective, they don't make good neighbors. Their children tend to commit more crime, as do their adults, they make transport unpleasant, degrade swimming pools, chase out merchants, shut down nightclubs, disrupt cinemas, mistreat animals, volunteer less, litter more, weaken schools, cripple school boards, waste police resources, and generally make life less pleasant for their white neighbors than it was before their arrival.
Since the Brits' ill-fated decision to import Africans to this land, the 98% of Euro-Americans who haven't own slaves have been forced to live with its consequences. Broadly speaking, three approaches have been tried: (1) segregation de jure (the old South), (2) segregation de facto (the old North), and (3) attrition (today).
We are all familiar with the South's de jure approach, their state lawmakers seeing to it that schools, housing, transport, and public accomodations existed in 'white' and 'colored' versions. This apartheid system and its architects have been throughly villainized in all modern textbooks.
We may be less familiar with the old North. Those of us born there have been told all our lives how warmly we opened our arms to these suffering Afros, saving them from the noose or at least the colored water fountain.
Or did we.
Enlightened souls in Northern state houses may have decreed a color-blind paradise, but to the man on the street it mattered little. The fact is that then as now, most Euros did not enjoy their encounters with Afros (especially those newly arrived from the South), and did what they could to avoid them.
I. Northern sentiment, yesterday: Snapshots
First, a few headlines from East Coast newspapers to give a sense of public sentiment (1):
"Boston, March 23. Refusing to associate with Dr. Melissa Thompson, a Negress of North Carolina, who has been appointed a physician in the maternity department of the New England Hospital for Women and Children in Roxbury, five young white women doctors sent in their resignation." (Baltimore Sun, March 24, 1911.)
"Boston, Sept. 8. Here where years ago a mob of exclusive Back Bay residents stormed the old courthouse to free a Negro from his Southern master, descendants of the Back Bay rescuers today are fighting against serving as election supervisors with a Negro, whose appointment became known Wednesday." (Baltimore American, Sept. 9, 1911.)
"Ithaca, N. Y., March 28. The petition of more than 200 women in Cornell University against the admission of [Negro] women into the only dormitory in the University has been forwarded to President Schurman." (Washington Times, March, 28, 1911.)
"New York, July 2. Twenty teachers, about half the staff at Public School No. 125, in Wooster Street, Manhattan have applied for transfers, owing to the assignment by the Board of Education of William L. Burkley (mulatto) as head of the school." (Baltimore Sun, July 3, 1909.)
"Burlington, Vermont, dislikes the idea of having the Tenth Cavalry at Fort Ethan Allen. The Tenth happens to be a colored regiment and the prospect of having 1200 Negro soldiers within three miles of the city is greatly exciting many of the people of Burlington." (Democrat and News, Cambridge, Md., Sept. 3, 1909.)
"Akron, Ohio, August 13. A serious race riot may take place if notices posted on the homes of North Side Negroes last night by members of a citizens' 'Vigilance league' in that section of the city, who have warned the Negroes that unless they sell their property and leave that section of the city, they will be forcibly evicted from their homes, which are also threatened with destruction.
"Members of the 'Vigilance league' declare today that the Negroes are practicing a form of blackmail by buying property in the fashionable residence district of North Hill, which they occupy until their white neighbors pay an exorbitant price for their property to get rid of them." (Baltimore American, Aug. 14, 1913.)
"York, Pa., Aug. 20. Dr. George W. Bowles, a Negro physician, has started a movement here for the segregation of his race. Bowles believes that Negroes would be better taken care of if in one part of the town. Now the blacks are housed in the alleys and few are permitted to rent houses on the main streets." (Baltimore Sun, Aug. 21, 1913.)
II. Northern sentiment, yesterday: Case study--Chicago
Race-based exclusion was officially illegal in most northern cities, but what could a Black man expect to encounter in his day-to-day life? Let us take an example of a large northern city, Chicago.
After the 1919 Chicago race riots (38 dead, 537 injured), a bi-racial committee of civic leaders spent two years investigating race relations in the city. Their final report, 'The Negro in Chicago' (2), illuminates the question in exhaustive detail. Highlights:
The Chicago Commission on Race Relations (CCRR):
When a Negro family moves into a block in which all other families are white, the neighbors object. This objection may express itself in studied aloofness, in taunts, warnings, slurs, threats, or even the bombing of their homes. [...] It matters little what type of citizens the Negro family may represent, what their wealth or standing in the community is ... their appearance is a signal of depreciation.
Whites used restrictive covenants, a contract stipulating the buyer of one's home would re-sell it only to other Whites. In the North, where housing segregation was not officially sanctioned, the practice was widespread. In Chicago:
2) Public Parks
Separate racial grouping is the general rule at the beaches, though it is not always voluntary. At the Thirty-eighth Street Beach, for example, Negroes are prevented by white boys and the park policeman from going into the water, according to a Negro playground director...... At the Diversey Beach in Lincoln Park both races go in the water, but a Lincoln Park representative said that the few Negroes who used this beach kept by themselves on one part of the beach, though there was no official rule compelling them to do this.
[...] The representative of the South Park Commission said that in the South Park district the parents were opposed to race contacts in swimming- and wading-pools. "Not 10 per cent of the families will allow contact with Negroes in the pools," he said.
The authors describe repeated brutal gang attacks of white boys against blacks, which discouraged the latter from using city park facilities. Who were these Whites?
The director of the Negro branch of Community Service of Chicago ascribed the trouble to the same source. He said that most of the white boys came to Washington Park from the "Ragen's Colts" Club, that some of them went to poolrooms where the mischief was hatched.
They were in fact the Irish immigrants who also lived in great numbers on Chicago's South Side. And the law appeared to be on their side:
The members of so-called "athletic clubs," whose rooms usually border on the park, are the worst offenders in this respect. If they do not reflect the community feeling they are at least tolerated by it, as nothing is done to suppress them. Some park authorities that have made sincere efforts to have these [Irish] hoodlums punished are discouraged because they get no co-operation from the courts, and the policeman who takes the boy to court gets a reprimand, while the boy is dismissed.
The law required restaurants to serve all races. To discourage Afros from returning, diverse tactics were employed: pretending not to see them, giving shoddy service, moving them to the rear, serving spoiled or tampered food, over-charging, hiding them from other clients. Anecdotes gathered:
From one of Chicago's large cafeteria chains:
A few nights later, I noticed two young, well-mannered colored girls at a nearby table. As I went out I met the manager and said to him, "Do many Negroes come here to eat?" He said, "No, occasionally they come in, but they don't come back more than once, or at most twice." "How do you manage it ? " "Well, under the law, we can't refuse to let them eat, but we can charge them any price we like. The first tune we charge them enough to keep them from coming back. Then if they persist and come again, as soon as they go down the line, I see to it that something is put in their food which makes it taste bad — salt or Epsom salts. They never come back after that." After a pause he added, "You know we are within the law. We can't have them coming here — it would ruin our trade."
Miss B. S. met a friend and went into the Cafeteria on Lake Street, near State, upstairs. They were served, but the waiter put screens around their table while they were eating.
In May, 1921, I [black interviewee] went to a lunchroom on Van Buren Street to get a lunch at noon. Six or seven men were at the counter, and were served as fast as they came in. Finally all seats were filled and three waiters were doing nothing, so I asked to be served. The waiter pretended not to hear me, then said roughly, "What do you want?" I said, "I do not know until I get a bill of fare." He pitched it at me and I asked for some baked beans. He stuck his head through the chef's window and gave my order. He brought me a plate on which were fourteen beans, and one small roll. I asked for a glass of water and he brought me a half-glass. I asked for butter (which had been served with two rolls to white patrons) and he said it would cost me a nickel. He said with emphasis, "It will cost you a nickel."
A tea room manager, paraphrased:
Negro patrons are infrequent, and there has been no noticeable increase. After many cases, complaint is made by white patrons, either in person or by letter, to the effect that if the tea room caters to Negroes, the white patrons will no longer use it. They had never known of a case of objectionable conduct but whites simply objected to their presence.
Three restaurant managers are interviewed:
1) The manager of one tea room is a young woman of considerable experience. She was emphatic in saying that Negroes were not wanted, and that every effort would be made to discourage their coming. Considerable personal feeling was manifested in her statements.
2) Not enough Negroes can afford to pay the prices in high-grade restaurants to make them a real problem, and stray cases are handled as they appear. The effort was made to make them feel uncomfortable so they would not return. Slow service, indifferent attention were given, but there was no overcharging, and no spoiling of food.
3) Had never observed any objectionable conduct. Objections of white patrons was only reason. Especially difficult in summer, when many southern white people come to Chicago as a summer resort.
4) Cinema and theatre
Black investigators 'secret shopped' several cinemas and theatres. Never refused entry, but were usually sold seats in the balcony, even when places on the floor were free.
Theatre manager interviewed:
Usually had complaints from white patrons if they found a Negro seated near them, especially if there were ladies in the party. It was not that the conduct of the Negroes was objectionable, but their mere presence was objectionable. If Negroes present tickets for the best main-floor seats, ushers try to put them in less conspicuous places. If they insist on taking their seats as shown on tickets, nothing can be done. If white patrons object, every effort is made to change their seats. Usual objection is offensive odor and proximity.
Reports of investigators indicate that the managers of movies are convinced that their main floors, at least, should be guarded against Negroes. In most of the commercial amusement places, Negroes seldom have difficulty if they are willing to sit in the balcony, though attempts are frequently made to seat them on the aisles next to the walls, even when there are center seats empty. It is rare that any report is obtained of objections by white patrons to the actual presence of Negroes when they are well-mannered, well-dressed, and appreciative auditors.
Department-store managers questioned by investigators concerning their Negro patronage and the use of Negro girls as clerks, stated that the public had definite preferences, and probably would not willingly tolerate Negroes either as patrons or as clerks. In stores selling general merchandise, courteous treatment is, as a rule, accorded to Negro patrons, although there are occasional annoying incidents.
Two black investigators are refused entry to a restroom on the 9th floor of an office building home to some clothing shops. They interview the building manager:
I related the incident to him. He told me that the attendant had informed me correctly, that the eleventh-floor restroom was reserved for "white folks" and that "colored folks" were not allowed to use it. They could use a restroom on the nineteenth floor set aside for colored employees of the building, and for any "colored folks" who might come into the building. He said it was one of the "iron-clad rules of the man who owned the building," and that "the attendant had it down in black and white."
An anecdote about a wealthy Black:
The wife of a prominent Negro attorney went into a State Street candy store and was flatly refused service. Her husband brought suit and got damages.
Several important industries in Chicago have not yet employed Negroes. The traction companies (both elevated and surface) do not employ them as conductors, motormen, guards, or ticket agents. The large State Street department stores have no Negro clerks, and taxicab companies do not employ colored drivers. In these industries, which depend directly upon the public for patronage, it is to be expected that the employing of Negro help will be determined by the employer's views of the wishes of his patrons.
[...] The employment managers of five State Street department stores made the following statements:
1. Our customers would object to colored salespeople, I am sure.
2. We have never employed any Negroes in our Chicago establishments. I don't care to go into the matter. It will not do you any good and will not do us any good.
3. Customers and white employees would object if they were used as clerks.
4. No Negroes are ever employed because we have sufficient white applicants.
5. If we ever tried using Negroes as clerks the white workers would make trouble, I am sure of that. Our customers would object. A good many are from the South and would make trouble even if Chicago people did not.
[For an equally detailed look at the question but in a small-town environment, see Frank F Lee's 1962 'Negro and White in Connecticut Town'. (3)]
III. Northern sentiment, today: Attrition?
Today, through aggressive civil and legal action, both the South's de jure and the North's de facto segregation have been mostly quashed.
For those Euros who want to sharply limit their interactions with Afros, what recourse is left?
Restrictive covenants were killed by 1948's Shelley v. Kramer decision and the 1968 Fair Housing Act. With no legal tool to keep Afros from their neighborhoods, Whites took to their heels and ran. And as Blacks followed, filling up their suburban neighborhoods, they fled again. Section 8 vouchers now have white Americans permanently on the run.
As schools are tied to neighborhoods, white family flight is the most common. Those obliged to stay in the city limits--for example, Chicago policemen--will pay any price, even one they cannot afford, to send their kids to private schools.. Those who live in the suburbs ('good schools!') must waste thousands of dollars on long daily commuting.
Today the EEOC polices all government contractors, insuring racial quotas are met, as well as harassing other private companies until they sufficiently 'diversify.' (The quality, skills, and experience of the applicants in question have no part in this matter.)
They have also made (or threatened to make) it impossible to rely on IQ tests, criminal background checks, high school diplomas, or credit checks when screening job applicants.
Firing an incompetent black employee risks endless lawsuits. And so we 'flee' again--'flee' from hiring blacks if we at all can, and, in the event we hire them and they don't work out, resigning ourselves to inefficiency rather than risk it all going head-to-head with the bottomless pockets of government lawyers.
De-segregated public transport has in some cities created a kind of 'white transport flight'. Atlanta's 36% white population has so thoroughly abandoned the train system that its acronym, MARTA, is now said to mean 'moving Africans rapidly through Atlanta.'
As was the case one hundred years ago, Euro-Americans are still subjected to regular vexation by their Afro brethren on all forms of public transport.
As Afros themselves often advise, for our own safety we avoid any big events with a large black presence, be it Fourth of July fireworks, trick-or-treating, Easter egg hunts, concerts, open-air film screenings, state fairs, culture expos, water parks, or sales events.
As Afros have now been given the freedom to elect their own, we alternate laughing and shaking our heads at the chicanery their elected officials get up to, while fleeing their governance whenever possible.
Northern sentiment, tomorrow: Past is prologue?
As W.H. Collins reported one hundred years back, southern segregation laws grew up gradually in the post-Reconstruction period. The preamble to Virginia's 1912 law begins:
"Whereas the preservation of the public morals, public health, and public order, in the cities and towns of this Commonwealth is endangered by the residence of white and colored people in close proximity to one another: therefore, be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia," etc. (1)
Collins, a pro-segregationist, says:
In association among races, unless there is some strong cementing influence to counteract it, friction is likely to occur between them in proportion to racial difference. [...] So, in the last analysis, the most potent reason for the segregation of the whites and the Negroes is their unlikeness. For they are antipodal in the extreme.
South Africa is another country home to large groups of NW Europeans and Sub-Saharan Africans, and the recent results of black rule and 'integration' there can only be qualified as catastrophic.
The U.S. is nowhere near such a situation. But the white flight merry-go-round on which we all spin (even those claiming otherwise) will not keep up forever. The middle class has been eviscerated these last thirty years. Whites fleeing black dysfunction are finding they have fewer places to run. White suburbs have broken off of black cities and incorporated, only to find themselves sued for breach of civil rights. Small towns are being sued for being insufficiently diverse. And according to journalist Stanley Kurtz, President Obama is planning an unprecedented attack on America's suburbs:
One approach is to force suburban residents into densely packed cities by blocking development on the outskirts of metropolitan areas, and by discouraging driving with a blizzard of taxes, fees, and regulations. Step two is to move the poor out of cities by imposing low-income-housing quotas on development in middle-class suburbs. Step three is to export the controversial “regional tax-base sharing” scheme currently in place in the Minneapolis–St. Paul area to the rest of the country. Under this program, a portion of suburban tax money flows into a common regional pot, which is then effectively redistributed to urban, and a few less well-off “inner-ring” suburban, municipalities.
Our modern strategy of 'attrition' seems to be reaching its end.
* * *
America's integration experiment is still very young. Forced daily contact between ethnic groups who consider themselves quite different has been tried in many times and places. At best it has provoked friction; at worst, genocidal violence. One could argue solidly for each of the three strategies mentioned (de jure segregation, de facto segregation, attrition). We suspect that a new chapter in American race relations will open soon. If it looks the same as that which unfolded between 1965 and 2010, we will be very surprised indeed.
(1) Collins, W.H., The Truth about the Negro and Lynching in the South, New York: Neale Publishing Co., 1918.
(2) Chicago Commission on Race Relations, 'The Negro in Chicago', Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 1922.
(3) Lee, Frank F., Negro and White in Connecticut Town, New York: Bookman, 1961.