Prof­its and losses

The Korea Times - - OPINION - By Wil­liam R. Jones The au­thor (wr­jones@vsu.edu) pub­lished the novella Be­yond Har­vard and presently teaches English as a sec­ond lan­guage.

One col­umn in this pa­per read, “I’m still sur­prised peo­ple are sur­prised how bad it can be to be black and in Amer­ica.” I re­torted: I’m still sur­prised peo­ple are sur­prised how good it can be to be black and in Amer­ica. Words and phrases may be mar­shaled in ev­ery way, but they don’t al­ways tell the truth, the whole truth, and noth­ing but the truth.

There was a bit more ex­change be­tween us, how­ever, the colum­nist guided me to a story in “The At­lantic” mag­a­zine writ­ten by Ta-Ne­hisi Coates: The Case for Repa­ra­tions.

There was new learn­ing in it for me: how African Amer­i­can slum ghet­tos and Amer­ica’s space de­prived sto­ried hous­ing projects (“sec­ond ghet­toes”) of our largest cities orig­i­nated. Re­gard­less of fa­vored the­o­ries put for­ward, there re­mains clar­ity how an en­tire peo­ple were pur­posely dis­ad­van­taged with vul­ner­a­bil­ity to so­cial prob­lems with­out right­ful govern­ment pro­tec­tion. If a man’s wife and he both work full time plus tak­ing on two ad­di­tional part-time jobs to main­tain a pur­chased res­i­dence, then some­thing is rad­i­cally wrong. Es­pe­cially, when it is noted that they were liv­ing thrifty aus­tere lives.

The pop­u­la­tions were forced into lower-in­come res­i­den­tial dis­tricts at the hands of un­scrupu­lous busi­ness­men. Ma­nip­u­la­tive sales­man­ship at its worst ad­vanc­ing their in­ter­ests at the ex­pense of the peo­ple. There was no es­cape. The peo­ple were taken in and tied into out­ra­geous con­tracts merely be­cause they de­sired a home of their own which had be­come a solid sym­bol of Amer­i­can cit­i­zen­ship.

Prof­its are de­served but not at the cost of fi­nan­cial loss and in­jury to the pop­u­la­tion. An ob­ses­sion with prof­its is a cap­i­tal pat­tern of di­vorc­ing func­tion from pur­pose. I be­lieve prof­its are the life sup­port of any eco­nomic sys­tem. But the life sup­port of one man may be a cancer and life-threat­en­ing to oth­ers.

First and fore­most, priv­i­leged white spec­u­la­tors and the en­tire mort­gage and real-es­tate in­dus­try “col­luded with leg­is­la­tures, may­ors, civic as­so­ci­a­tions, banks, and cit­i­zens” Coates wrote to ma­neu­ver and gain an end. This in­cluded in­equitable and un­just federal hous­ing po­lices, dis­hon­est ap­prais­ers, and, sub­prime preda­tory loans and fore­clo­sures by ac­quis­i­tive “con­tract sellers” from the Home Own­ers’ Loan Cor­po­ra­tion.

All, whom I have a min­i­mum high re­gard for, were ac­tively and ex­ploita­tively in­volved in mort­gage lend­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion, “redlin­ing”, re­stric­tive covenants, and other dou­ble-deal­ing and un­prin­ci­pled prac­tices of a thor­oughly nasty busi­ness con­cern. This cre­ated the marginal­ized, res­i­den­tially seg­re­gated ghetto and project com­mu­ni­ties, “where they were over­crowded, over­charged, and un­der­e­d­u­cated.”

One might ask if the peo­ple are un­happy with their di­lap­i­dated houses and de­te­ri­o­rat­ing projects, why don’t they just move out? Well, that’s eas­ier said than done. It takes money-means to just pack up and trans­port to an­other lo­ca­tion. And be­sides, upon ar­riv­ing, will good-pay­ing work be avail­able?

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