• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

CounterPunch needs you. piggybank-icon You need us. The cost of keeping the site alive and running is growing fast, as more and more readers visit. We want you to stick around, but it eats up bandwidth and costs us a bundle. Help us reach our modest goal (we are half way there!) so we can keep CounterPunch going. Donate today!
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Defying Assassination Day: MLK vs. Apartheid Housing

On this day of resistance against racist murder we remember the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and we resolve to betray not only the killers but the dreamlessness of the future they kill for.

Some twenty months before he was targeted for that final bullet, King was hit in the head by a common, rock throwing racist. As much as King wanted to believe that his 1966 march through Chicago’s Gage Park neighborhood would affect the structure of residential segregation in America, evidence fifty years later proves that America has done a poor job with the follow-up and follow-through.

We shall overcome racist murder only when we abolish neighborhood segregations that warp our material relations and sustain exclusionary paranoia.

In an amicus brief filed only sixteen months ago, some sixty scholars of American housing reported to the United States Supreme Court that if we measure the “exposure” of African Americans to the majority white population, “segregation is today greater nationwide than it was in 1940, and has remained mostly unchanged since 1950.”

Aided and abetted by federal law and finance, American suburbs have been endowed by their creators with inalienable landscapes of predominant whiteness, homestead wealth, ambitious education, and pursuit of upward mobility for all.

Meanwhile, as amicus scholars report, persistent techniques of systemic “hypersegregation” — in public housing, mortgage guarantees, real estate redlining, financial steering, and city planning — have confined 75 percent of African Americans to sixteen percent of census tracts.

“The executive director of the American Association of State Highway Officials, influential in Congressional highway design” was reported to use the n-word in describing the exploitation and dispossession that transportation planners pursued during the Interstate building heyday of the 1950s.

In Race and Real Estate, published by Oxford University Press in 2016, several more scholars contribute witness and expertise. Kendrick Ian Grandison shows how town geographies that once produced “the other side of the tracks” have since concretized the other side of the so-called freeway, imposing material insults and urban dangers intractably zoned in.

Urban sociologist Patricia Fernandez-Kelly, who released her disquieting study of West Baltimore shortly before the insurrections of April, 2015 rehearses in a chapter of Race and Real Estate her vocabulary for describing American apartheid. On one side policymakers and financiers collaborate to create what Peter Evans has termed “embedded autonomy,” with amply equipped opportunities to work, shop, educate, and enjoy.

On the other side, institutional structures produce “distorted engagement” where babies are likely to meet social workers even before they meet their own mothers. The difference between embedded autonomy and distorted engagement is Fernandez-Kelly’s short answer to why so many immigrant populations have been able to escape from slums to suburbs while significant numbers of African Americans endure (and insurrect against) ghetto confinement.

When King was called away from his August, 1966 Chicago marches to visit the aftermath of the Watts insurrection, he did not fail to point out that housing discrimination was one of the insurrection’s legitimate grievances. Only two years before the Watts insurrection, California had repealed its law banning discrimination in housing. “California by that callous act voted for ghettos,” said King. “The atrociousness of some deeds may be concealed by legal ritual, but the destructiveness is felt with bitter force by its victims.”

On news of King’s assassination in 1968, insurrections broke out across America. As if in recognition of where King’s struggle had stalled out – and where legitimate grievances festered — Congress fast-tracked a Fair Housing Act, the last of the landmark Civil Rights Acts to memorialize the King era.

The Fair Housing Act was but the first of King’s posthumous achievements. He came, he loved, he struggled. He exercised tremendous capacity to wage war on American dreamlessness, and we affirm, especially on this day, that King’s dream of fearless neighborhoods in America is worthy of material affirmation and respect.

Sources in order of appearance:

D.J.R. Bruckner. “Dozens Hurt During March in Chicago,L.A. Times, Aug. 6, 1966.

Brief of Housing Scholars as Amici Curiae Supporting Respondent, Dec. 23, 2014. Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs, et al. v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. Supreme Court of the U.S.

Adrienne Brown and Valerie Smith, Editors. Race and Real Estate. Transgressing Boundaries: Studies in Black Politics and Black Communities. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Clayborne Carson, Editor. “Chapter 27: Watts,” The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. King Institute, Stanford University, accessed April 3, 2016.

 

More articles by:

Greg Moses writes about peace and Texas, but not always at the same time. He is author of Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Philosophy of Nonviolence. As editor of the Texas Civil Rights Review he has written about racism faced by Black agriculturalists in Texas. He can be reached at gmosesx@gmail.com

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
May 24, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Iran, Venezuela and the Throes of Empire
Melvin Goodman
The Dangerous Demise of Disarmament
Jeffrey St. Clair
“The Army Ain’t No Place for a Black Man:” How the Wolf Got Caged
Richard Moser
War is War on Mother Earth
Andrew Levine
The (Small-d) Democrat’s Dilemma
Russell Mokhiber
The Boeing Way: Blaming Dead Pilots
Rev. William Alberts
Gaslighters of God
Phyllis Bennis
The Amputation Crisis in Gaza: a US-Funded Atrocity
Jonathan Latham
As a GMO Stunt, Professor Tasted a Pesticide and Gave It to Students
Binoy Kampmark
The Espionage Act and Julian Assange
Kathy Deacon
Liberals Fall Into Line: a Recurring Phenomenon
Jill Richardson
The Disparity Behind Anti-Abortion Laws
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Chelsea Manning is Showing Us What Real Resistance Looks Like
Zhivko Illeieff
Russiagate and the Dry Rot in American Journalism
Norman Solomon
Will Biden’s Dog Whistles for Racism Catch Up with Him?
Yanis Varoufakis
The Left Refuses to Get Its Act Together in the Face of Neofascism
Lawrence Davidson
Senator Schumer’s Divine Mission
Thomas Knapp
War Crimes Pardons: A Terrible Memorial Day Idea
Renee Parsons
Dump Bolton before He Starts the Next War
Yves Engler
Canada’s Meddling in Venezuela
Katie Singer
Controlling 5G: A Course in Obstacles
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Beauty of Trees
Jesse Jackson
Extremist Laws, Like Alabama’s, Will Hit Poor Women the Hardest
Andrew Bacevich
The “Forever Wars” Enshrined
Ron Jacobs
Another One Moves On: Roz Payne, Presente!
Christopher Brauchli
The Offal Office
Daniel Falcone
Where the ‘Democratic Left’ Goes to Die: Staten Island NYC and the Forgotten Primaries   
Julia Paley
Life After Deportation
Sarah Anderson
America Needs a Long-Term Care Program for Seniors
Seiji Yamada – John Witeck
Stop U.S. Funding for Human Rights Abuses in the Philippines
Shane Doyle, A.J. Not Afraid and Adrian Bird, Jr.
The Crazy Mountains Deserve Preservation
Charlie Nash
Will Generation Z Introduce a Wizard Renaissance?
Ron Ridenour
Denmark Peace-Justice Conference Based on Activism in Many Countries
Douglas Bevington
Why California’s Costly (and Destructive) Logging Plan for Wildfires Will Fail
Gary Leupp
“Escalating Tensions” with Iran
Jonathan Power
Making the World More Equal
Cesar Chelala
The Social Burden of Depression in Japan
Stephen Cooper
Imbibe Culture and Consciousness with Cocoa Tea (The Interview)
Stacy Bannerman
End This Hidden Threat to Military Families
Kevin Basl
Time to Rethink That POW/MIA Flag
Nicky Reid
Pledging Allegiance to the Divided States of America
Louis Proyect
A Second Look at Neflix
Martin Billheimer
Closed Shave: T. O. Bobe, the Girl and Curl
May 23, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Belligerence of Empire
Ralph Nader
What and Who Gave Us Trump?
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail