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Professor claims affordable housing for black residents proof of ‘systemic racism’

Simmons College professor acknowledges there’s no one directing racist policies, but argues racism still exists

A recent opinion piece by a black Simmons College professor illustrates the Catch-22 of trying to find racism in home prices.

“I’m moving to Louisville and have discovered the average home value tells a racist story,” history Professor Jemar Tisby wrote on December 12 in the Courier Journal.

“In Louisville’s majority white neighborhoods, the average home costs $325,942, over three times the $116,180 that homes in Louisville majority Black communities’ cost,” the scholar wrote.

“Even in a relatively affordable city, racism is still shaping home values,” Tisby argued.

By definition, most buyers of homes in majority black communities are black themselves – so one black family’s financial gain from the sale of the house comes out of the pocket of another black family. Tisby’s statement could be reversed: homes in black neighborhoods are more affordable than those in white neighborhoods.

“There are no individuals sitting with steepled fingers behind a big desk in an office somewhere maliciously plotting how to strip value from the homes owned by people of color,” Tisby acknowledged, to his credit. “However, “[s]ystemic racism does not require the intentions of an individual to occur. If the system simply operates as it was set up long ago, then these patterns of inequality will persist.”

But this “value” being “strip[ped]” by appraisers, Tisby should also acknowledge, means that black individuals who want to live by other black individuals can better afford a house than white individuals who want to live by other white individuals.

Yet, he wrote, “we must reckon with the past and present racism in Louisville housing industry and reimagine a system that will enable all Louisvillians to have places to live that are both comfortable and affordable.”

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Homes are affordable in Louisville. According to Tisby, black individuals pay far less than white people for homes!

Of course, Tisby’s narrative runs into another problem – another professor said that “racism” is also behind the poor state of many black family’s homes. Lower quality homes are obviously going to sell for less than homes in a better state.

Tulane University sociologist Robin Bartram argued that the “legacy of racism” is behind the poor state of many black individuals’ homes.

“[R]otting wood siding and floors, mold, crumbling brickwork, outdated plumbing and leaking ceilings,” Bartram wrote in October, remain unfixed because black women have less wealth “than their white or male counterpart.”

Might that be why appraisers would, on average, value black homes at a lower value than white homes?

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IMAGE: JemarTisby.com

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Matt has previously worked at Students for Life of America, Students for Life Action and Turning Point USA. While in college, he wrote for The College Fix as well as his college newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix. He holds a B.A. from Loyola University-Chicago and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He lives in northwest Indiana with his family.