A list of featured content from various sections of the website.

Time for an Awakening recap of the Black Political Conference in St. Louis

“Time for an Awakening” for Sunday 5/28/2017 was a recap and update by Bro. Zaki Baruti, on the National Black Political Leadership Convention Phase 3 held in St. Louis on May 19th & 20th.

Time for an Awakening with Larry Aubry

“Time for an Awakening” for Friday 5/26/2017 guest was long time Activist, Writer for the Los Angeles Sentinel, Larry Aubry. The discussion with Mr. Aubry centered around some of his recent and always provocative columns in the largest African American owned newspaper in the West.

Build and Fight: The Program and Strategy of Cooperation Jackson

The fundamental program and strategy of Cooperation Jackson is anchored in the vision and macro-strategy of the Jackson-Kush Plan. The Jackson-Kush Plan, as you will read later in this book, was formulated by the New Afrikan People’s Organization (NAPO) and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) between 2004 and 2010, to advance the development of the New Afrikan Independence Movement and hasten the socialist transformation of the territories currently claimed by the United States settler-colonial state. And as noted in several articles throughout the book, Cooperation Jackson is a vehicle specifically created to advance a key component of the Jackson-Kush Plan, namely the development of the solidarity economy in Jackson, Mississippi to advance the struggle for economic democracy as a prelude towards the democratic transition to eco-socialism.

Although Cooperation Jackson is rooted in an ideological framework, vision and macro-strategy, it is not a static organization. Like any dynamic organization we do our best to center our practice on addressing the concrete conditions of our space, time and conditions and to align our theory with our practice. As such, our program and strategy are constantly adapting and evolving to address new challenges and seize new opportunities. And it will continue to do so.

The fundamental program and strategy of Cooperation Jackson is intended to accomplish four fundamental ends: 1) to place the ownership and control over the primary means of production directly in the hands of the Black working class of Jackson, 2) to build and advance the development of the ecologically regenerative forces of production in Jackson, Mississippi, 3) to democratically transform the political economy of the city of Jackson, the state of Mississippi, and the southeastern region, and 4) to advance the aims and objectives of the Jackson-Kush Plan, which are to attain self-determination for people of African descent and the radical, democratic transformation of the state of Mississippi (which we see as a prelude to the radical decolonization and transformation of the United States itself).

We define the means of production as the physical, non-human inputs that enable humans to transform the natural world to provide sustenance for themselves. The inputs in question are arable land, access to water, natural resources (wood, metals, minerals, etc.), and the tools and facilities that enable the cultivation of food and the transformation of raw materials into consumable goods and services, and the production or capturing of energy to power the tools and facilities. We also add control over processes of material exchange and energy transfer to our definition to give it greater clarity and force of meaning in line with our commitment to sustainability and environmental justice. The processes we feel are therefore necessary to control are the processes of distribution, consumption, and recycling and/or reuse. Without assuming some responsibility for these processes, we merely perpetuate the dynamics of externalization, particularly the production of pollution and the stimulation of waste from overproduction, that are inherent in the capitalist mode of production.

A population or people that does not have access to and control over these means and processes cannot be said to possess or exercise self-determination. The Black working class majority in Jackson does not have control or unquestionable ownership over any of these means or processes. Our mission is to aid the Black working class in Jackson, and the working class overall, attain them.

On the question of building the productive forces in Jackson, it should be noted that while Jackson is the largest city in the state of Mississippi, and arguably the most industrialized city in the state, it is not and never has been a major center or hub of industrial production. Like most of the Deep South, Mississippi’s development as a settler-colonial state has fundamentally been contingent upon the extraction of natural resources, such as timber for colonial and antebellum era ship building, and cash crop agriculture, such as cotton, tobacco, sugarcane, and rice, which were primarily sold as international commodities (see “Exploiting Contradictions” section below). Mississippi, like most of the South (North Carolina, Florida, and Texas being unique exceptions each in their own right), has not been able to break out of its historic position within the U.S. and world capitalist system of being a site of resource extraction and the super-exploitation of labor. One of our primary tasks is to break this structural relationship by playing a leading role in industrializing Jackson, first and foremost, then the Kush district, and eventually the entirety of Mississippi.

In many respects, we are positioning ourselves to act as a “developer”, which is normally a role that is exclusively played by the bourgeoisie, i.e. the capitalist class, or the state. We are aiming to upend this paradigm on many levels and in several strategic ways. One, we are seeking to negate the role of capital being the primary determinate of the social development of Jackson (see point below about exploiting the dynamic of uneven development within the capitalist system below), by situating this role in the hands of the working class through the agency of its own autonomous organizations and its control over the municipal state apparatus. But, we are not seeking to replicate the dynamics of “development” in the standard capitalist sense. The central dynamic in our quest to upend the old aims, norms, processes and relationships of capitalist development, which have little to no regard for the preservation of the environment and ecology, and replace them with new norms that are fixed first and foremost on repairing the damage done to our environment and ecosystems, and creating new systems that will ultimately regenerate the bounty of life on our planet, in all its diversity. This will be possible by strategically incorporating, utilizing, and innovating upon the technologies of the third and (emerging) forth waves of the industrial revolution, which enable the elimination of scarcity, but within ecological limits (see more on this point below). What we aim to do is make Jackson a hub of community production, which is anchored by 3D print manufacturing for community consumption, i.e. direct use-value consumption, and commodity production, to exchange value in consumer markets. How we plan to advance this initiative will be discussed in more detail below.

In order to democratically transform the capitalist world-economy, we have to transform the agent central to this process, the working class, into a democratic subject. This transformation starts with the self-organization of the working class itself. Although not foreign to the working class historically by any means, particularly to the Black working class in the United States (which was often left solely to its own ends for self-defense and survival), worker self-organization is not a common feature of the class at present. This is a dynamic that we must change in Jackson (and beyond).

Now, to be clear on terms, self-organization means first and foremost workers directly organizing themselves through various participatory means (unions, assemblies, etc.) primarily at their places of work or points of production, but also where they live, play, pray, and study. The point of this self-organization is for workers to make collective, democratic decisions about how, when, and to what ends their labor serves, and about how to take action collectively to determine the course of their own lives and the animus of their own actions.

We will not and cannot accomplish any of the core ends described above without stimulating the self-organization of the Black working class in Jackson on a mass scale. While Cooperation Jackson, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and the broad forces aligned with the Jackson-Kush Plan have made some significant social and political advances and demonstrated our capacity to reach the masses, particularly in the electoral arena, we still haven’t stimulated the self-organization of the Black working class on a mass scale. More work, profoundly more, must be done to accomplish the main tasks in this regard, which are to elevate and strengthen the class-consciousness of the community, foster and cultivate new relationships of social solidarity amongst the working class, and co-construct and advance new social norms and values rooted in radical ecological and humanitarian principles. In effect, what we are aiming to do is develop a new transformative culture.

In order to reinforce the development of this new culture within the present confines of Mississippi and the overall capitalist world-system, we have to harness the power of the Black working class and utilize it politically to eliminate the structural barriers blocking the “legal” development of the solidarity economy within the state. One of the main things we have to eliminate are the Mississippi legal statutes that presently restrict cooperatives to farming businesses, utilities, and credit unions. We have to create a new legal framework and paradigm that will enable any form of productive endeavor to become a cooperative or solidarity enterprise.

In the Jackson context it is only through the mass self-organization of the working class, the construction of a new democratic culture, and the development of a movement from below to transform the social structures that shape and define our relations, particularly the state (i.e. government), that we can conceive of serving as a counter-hegemonic force with the capacity to democratically transform the economy. Again, we have taken some baby steps in this direction with the Mayoral election of Chokwe Lumumba in 2013 and the founding of Cooperation Jackson in 2014. But, we have a long way to get where we desire and need to be.

“Politics without economics is symbol without substance”. This old Black Nationalist adage summarizes and defines Cooperation Jackson’s relationship to the Jackson-Kush Plan and the political aims and objectives of the New Afrikan People’s Organization and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement in putting it forward. Without a sound economic program and foundation the Jackson-Kush Plan is nothing more than a decent exposition of revolutionary nationalist politics. Cooperation Jackson is the vehicle we have collectively created to insure that we do more than just espouse good rhetoric, but engage in a concrete struggle to create a democratic economy that will enable Black and other colonized, oppressed and exploited people to exercise self-determination in Mississippi (and beyond).

We have to be clear, crystal clear, that self-determination is unattainable without an economic base. And not just your standard economic base, meaning a capitalist oriented one, but a democratic one. Self-determination is not possible within the capitalist social framework, because the endless pursuit of profits that drives this system only empowers private ownership and the individual appropriation of wealth by design. The end result of this system is massive inequality and inequity. We know this from the brutality of our present experience and the nightmares of history demonstrated to us time and time again over the course of the last 500 years.

We strive to build a democratic economy because it is the surest route to equity, equality, and ecological balance. Reproducing capitalism, either in its market oriented or state-dictated forms, will only replicate the inequities and inequalities that have plagued humanity since the dawn of the agricultural revolution. We believe that the participatory, bottom-up democratic route to economic democracy and eco-socialist transformation will be best secured through the anchor of worker self-organization, the guiding structures of cooperatives and systems of mutual aid and communal solidarity, and the democratic ownership, control, and deployment of the ecologically friendly and labor liberating technologies of the forth industrial revolution.

As students of history, we have done our best to try and assimilate the hard lessons from the 19th and 20th century national liberation and socialist movements. We are clear that self-determination expressed as national sovereignty is a trap if the nation-state does not dislodge itself from the dictates of the capitalist system. Remaining within the capitalist world-system means that you have to submit to the domination and rule of capital, which will only empower the national bourgeoisie against the rest of the population contained with the nation-state edifice. However, we are just as clear that trying to impose economic democracy or socialism from above is not only very problematic as an anti-democratic endeavor, but it doesn’t dislodge capitalist social relations, it only shifts the issues of labor control and capital accumulation away from the bourgeoisie and places it in the hands of the state or party bureaucrats. We are clear that economic democracy and the transition to eco-socialism have to come from below, not from above. That workers and communities have to drive the social transformation process through their self-organization and self-management, not be subject to it. This does not mean that individuals, organizations, and political forces shouldn’t try to intervene or influence the development of the working class and our communities. We believe that we should openly and aggressively present our best ideas, programs, strategies, tactics, plans, etc. to the working class and to our communities in open forums, discussions, town halls, assemblies, etc., and debate them out in a principled democratic fashion to allow the working class and our communities to decide for themselves whether they make sense and are worth implementing and pursuing.

The following was an excerpt from the forthcoming book Jackson Rising: The Struggle for Economic Democracy and Self-Determination in Jackson, Mississippi.  Jackson Rising is a chronicle of one of the most dynamic, but under-documented experiments in radical social transformation taking place in the United States. The book documents the ongoing organizing and institution building of the political forces concentrated in Jackson, Mississippi dedicated to advancing the “Jackson-Kush Plan”. These forces include the Jackson People’s Assembly, the New Afrikan People’s Organization, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, the Jackson Human Rights Institute and Cooperation Jackson.

The “Jackson-Kush Plan” is a strategy written by Kali Akuno and collectively developed by activists in the New Afrikan People’s Organization and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement in the mid-2000’s to advance the struggle for socialism in the United States and self-determination for people of Afrikan descent in Mississippi and the US South.

To read more Click or Copy link: http://atlantablackstar.com/2017/05/21/build-fight-program-strategy-cooperation-jackson/

How Policing Black Boys Leads To The Conditioning Of Black Men

CHICAGO, IL – DECEMBER 13: Young boys watch from a seat in a charter bus as demonstrators march along Michigan Avenue to protest police abuse, December 13, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. About 25 of the approximately 200 demonstrators were arrested during the protest which weaved its way through sidewalks packed with Christmas shoppers. The protests was one of many staged nationwide in response to grand juries’ failure to indict police officers involved in the the deaths of Michal Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York.

Mistrust and alienation between black men and the police have become so entrenched that we need radical, sweeping change. The collective experience of black men in the criminal justice system is sobering. African Americans are 2.5 times more likely to be arrested than whites, and numerous studies have shown that black men are disproportionately targeted, stopped, frisked, and searched through the practice of racial profiling. Black men end up in prison more often, receive longer sentences than similarly situated white men, and are more likely to be killed during police encounters than white men – 21 times more likely.

But, as criminal defense attorneys, we can attest to the fact that as harshly and as unfairly as black men have been treated in the criminal justice system, the fate of black boys has been worse.

Decades of data show that the journey to racial disparity begins when black men are boys. Black boys are policed like no other demographic. They are policed on the street, in the mall, in school, in their homes, and on social media. Police stop black boys on the vaguest of descriptions – “black boys running,” “two black males in jeans, one in a gray hoodie,” “black male in athletic gear.” Young black males are treated as if they are “out of place” not only when they are in white, middle-class neighborhoods, but also when they are hanging out in public spaces or sitting on their own front porches.

Adolescence is a critical time during which young people come to understand and respect or resent the law and legal institutions. Negative attitudes about the police acquired during childhood and adolescence have a “lasting” effect as youth transition to adulthood. The long history of aggressive and biased interactions with the police — perceived or real — has socialized a generation of black boys to avoid contact with the police whenever possible and if not, to be hostile — sometimes outright confrontational — with police.

These stories are significant not only for the debilitating and conditioning impact they have on these youth, but also for the message they send to black boys.

Black boys are angered not only by the frequency with which they are stopped, but also by the treatment they experience during these stops. They describe police as belligerent and antagonistic and are especially outraged by the officers’ use of racial slurs, profanity and demeaning terms like “punk” and “sissy.” They complain about police stops that are too often initiated by physical contact such as grabbing, pushing, shoving, pulling or tackling the youth to the ground.

Once on the ground, black boys are sometimes held down by multiple officers who sit or lie on them while other officers kick, punch or mace them. More violent encounters include billy clubs or chokeholds like the one that killed Eric Garner in New York. Victims of police violence include black boys like LaQuan McDonald, Tyre King, and most recently Jordan Edwards. Fear of violence by police is now the norm for black boys.

In a recent study of police perceptions of childhood innocence, researchers showed police officers a series of photographs of young white, black and Latino males engaged in some purported criminal activity and asked them to estimate the age of each child. While the officers overestimated the age of adolescent black felony suspects by 4.59 years, they underestimated the age of adolescent white felony suspects by one year. Because of these types of distorted perceptions, black boys are more likely to be treated as adults much earlier than other youth, more likely to be arrested, harassed and assaulted for normal adolescent behavior, and more likely to be perceived as culpable and deserving of punishment or even death.

Consider the police encounter with Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old Cleveland boy who was killed by police on November 22, 2014, after a witness called 911, reporting “a guy with a pistol” that was “probably fake.” When police officers arrived, they described a much “older” person, weighing 170 pounds, standing 5 feet 7 inches tall and wearing size 36 pants and a man’s extra-large jacket. The officers were doing what empirical research on implicit racial bias suggests that police do: routinely overestimate the age and the perceived threat of young black boys.

If we expect any meaningful change in the relationship between black men and the police, we have to start early. We have to help police resist the faulty perceptions of black youth as violent and aggressive and work to develop black boys’ faith in law enforcement. To aid this reform, we should revisit our extensive reliance on police in schools, mandate officer training on adolescent development and implicit bias, and require deep shifts in police policy and procedure to facilitate new opportunities for genuine, positive interactions between black youth and the police. Without these reforms, the unfair policing of black boys — and black men — will continue.

To read more Click or Copy link: http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2017/05/23/465997013/opinion-how-policing-black-boys-leads-to-the-conditioning-of-black-men

“Proof of Consciousness” (P.O.C) the Host of REVIVE!!! 5/24/2017

Today’s REVIVE show topic is entitled:

“ROLE PLAY: Theater, Arts, and Culture”

#Art #BlackTalkRadio

  #Culture #ConsciousConversations


I need you all to be apart of the conversation!



It would be amazing to hear your perspective. So please call in we want to hear what you guys out there have to say always. Once again this show is for the people. We here at REVIVE thrive off of communication. So call us at (215)490-9832. This episode of REVIVE will be an open forum so all perspectives can be heard through great conversation.

This episode on REVIVE is entitled “ROLE PLAY: Theater, Arts, and Culture” This conversation will focus on the influence of theater on certain cultures, the importance of preserving art and creative outlets, and what the future holds for actors/ actresses and artists!


Obi Egbuna Jr: Obi Egbuna Jr is the Co-Executive Director and Co-Founder of Mass Emphasis Children’s History and Theater Company started in 2012. He is also the Co-Executive Producer of Battle Cry for Cuba and Zimbabwe with Mutulu Olugbala aka M1 of Dead Prez. Today on REVIVE he will be appearing with Zuri Kenyatta age 9 who will be appearing in the Sisters Who Fought With Their Pens that premieres on Saturday May 27, 2017.

Destiny Washington: Destiny Washington is a recent graduate of East Stroudsburg University where she majored in musical theater and minored in dance. At East Stroudsburg University she trained with amazing professors such as Margaret Ball who also worked at NYU and Stephanie French. Destiny has been involved in productions such as Little shop of Horrors, For Colored Girl who have considered Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf, Seussical the Musical, The Wizard of Oz and A Midsummer Nights dream. She currently with the Wilhelmina Philadelphia agency for acting, singing and modeling. She wants to pursue a career on Broadway. Her goal is to touch hearts and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ through theater.

Asia Burnett : Asia Burnett is a recent East Stroudsburg University graduate from Philadelphia, PA. She has a bachelor’s of Arts in Theatre. Her skills have granted her to build a production company named Caged Artistry Productions which has been established for almost three years. Caged Artistry is the suppressed art of independent and growing young individuals that has finally been released.

This week on REVIVE



Today’s weekly thrill provides a platform for startup businesses, organizations, innovators, and artists a chance to promote their brand, products, and services. This is a perfect opportunity for you to promote your business and tap into our listening audience!


Letia Brown: Letia Brown is the founder and owner of Banana X Express that was founded in 2012. Letia’s purpose for starting Banana X Express is to be expressively creative as possible. The meaning behind the brand is crazy creative ideas such as  “it’s banana’s”. Banana X Express most signature designs are zippers and banana patterns. Why fit in when you can be custom made? Banana X Express


It would be amazing to hear your perspective. So please call in we want to hear what you guys the listening audience out there have to say always. Once again this show is for the people. We here at REVIVE thrive off of communication. So call us at (215)490-9832  & follow on Twitter and Facebook @REVIVE_POC !



“Proof of Consciousness” (P.O.C) the Host of REVIVE!!! 5/21/2017

Today’s REVIVE show topic is entitled:

“Police Brutality, Mental Health Effects, and More!”

#BlackTalkRadioNetwork  #BlackTalkMedia


I need you all to be apart of the conversation!



It would be amazing to hear your perspective. So please call in we want to hear what you guys out there have to say always. Once again this show is for the people. We here at REVIVE thrive off of communication. So call us at (215)490-9832. This episode of REVIVE will be an open forum so all perspectives can be heard through great conversation.

Did you know that May is MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH? This show entitled “Police Brutality, Mental Health Effects, and More!” This conversation will focus on the effects of trauma caused by police brutality, knowledge about mental health and eliminating the stigma associate with it, and educating people about the habits and behaviors that increase the risk of developing or heightening mental illnesses. This is a conversation that you do not want to miss!


Dr. Carlton Payne: Dr. Carlton Payne is the Chief of Psychology for the Philadelphia Department of Prisons. He was the first African American Psychologist in the history of the Philadelphia Prison System. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at La Salle University a Master of Science at Villanova University and a Ph.D. at Temple University all in psychology. He is the Assistant Director of Workshops for Teens, a former chair of the Association of Black Psychologists, a professor of psychology at the prestigious University of Pennsylvania, Neumann College, Alvernia University and Camden county college. He has received five commendations from the city of Philadelphia for distinction in performance of duty. He is a member of the Fair Housing board, and was recognized for outstanding professional accomplishment, proficiency, initiative, and integrity when twice chosen as the Employee of the year.

Edith King: Edie King is a therapist and writer from the Greater Philadelphia area. She specializes in the substance abuse population, and believes “we’re all recovering from something”. Edie holds a Master of Arts degree in Counseling from Eastern University, and is also a National Board Certified Counselor. Her self titled blog focuses on mental, emotional, and spiritual growth and wellness.

Anthony Thompson: Anthony Thompson is know in the community as Supreme. He is a Charlotte N.C. native, he co- owns a Non-profit organization called I Am Great Minds Inc LLC. He is an advocate for change in our communities and amongst the people where it’s most needed. His organization strives for change. One of their main objectives is to help the way people think so that they can be more effective.


It would be amazing to hear your perspective. So please call in we want to hear what you guys the listening audience out there have to say always. Once again this show is for the people. We here at REVIVE thrive off of communication. So call us at (215)490-9832  & follow on Twitter and Facebook @REVIVE_POC !



Time for an Awakening with Oba Olayinka (Open Forum)

“Time for an Awakening” for Sunday 5/21/2017 at 7:00 est  After a recap and advertising of two upcoming community events, there was open forum conversation with the listeners.

“Proof of Consciousness” (P.O.C) the Host of REVIVE!!! 5/17/2017

Today’s REVIVE show topic is entitled:


#Businesses #Organizations #Innovators


I need you all to be apart of the conversation!



It would be amazing to hear your perspective. So please call in we want to hear what you guys out there have to say always. Once again this show is for the people. We here at REVIVE thrive off of communication. So call us at (215)490-9832. This episode of REVIVE will be an open forum so all perspectives can be heard through great conversation.

Today’s weekly thrill provides a platform for startup businesses, organizations, innovators, and artists a chance to promote their brand, products, and services. This is a perfect opportunity for you to promote your business and tap into our listening audience!


Halimah A. DeOliveira: Halimah DeOliveira is the CEO of Be You In HD. She is an inspirational, speaker, coach, author and a philanthropist. Her vision is to transform and teach 1 million people over the next 365 days how to live bold, unapologetic and purposeful lives through intense interactive workshops, webinars and One-on One Coaching sessions.

Gabriella Payne: Gabriella Payne is an entrepreneur, international business change agent, and an advocate for women worldwide.Gabriella has transformed her most personal setbacks and disappointments into powerful anecdotes for inspiration for adolescents and business professionals alike. Upon entering into college she was granted the opportunity to study abroad in Ecuador, a moment that she believes to be the groundbreaking moment of her career and life. ​She is a graduate from Salisbury University with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Business and Spanish. Gabriella now speaks to schools, universities, and women’s groups all across the nation on topics surrounding self-love, career success, and confidence building. In addition to public speaking, she owns an event design and planning business, Prim and Planned.


It would be amazing to hear your perspective. So please call in we want to hear what you guys the listening audience out there have to say always. Once again this show is for the people. We here at REVIVE thrive off of communication. So call us at (215)490-9832  & follow on Twitter and Facebook @REVIVE_POC !


Malusi Gigaba says economy still largely informed by and still reflected SA’s colonial and apartheid past.

Malusi Gigaba says economy still largely informed by and still reflected SA’s colonial and apartheid past  

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has called for radical economic transformation — once again saying black business is key to economic growth in SA.

Speaking at a Black Business Council gala dinner on Monday night, Gigaba said: “Leadership bears the burden of responsibility; the responsibility to help serve the challenges of our time … The most difficult challenge of out time … is to transform the South African economy and grow it in an inclusive way.”

He said the economy was still largely informed by and still reflected SA’s colonial and apartheid past.

“Our inability to transform the economy has left the poor particularly vulnerable to the shocks of economic growth.

“Black dispossession has been normalised in our society … there are those shocked by the call for radical economic transformation,” he said.

It was important to move towards a diversified economy that was integrated in Africa and globally, as an exporter.

“We are faced with a challenge of undertaking economic transformation in a context that is not our own doing.

“Let us work together to implement programmes and initiatives. Nothing worth doing is ever easy and the circumstances are never perfect.

“We need to adopt the mind-set that growing black business is the key to economic growth. We need to move beyond justifying the need for econ-omic transformation.

“Growing black business is good for SA. We need to stop talking about black economic empowerment and corruption in the same breath.

“They are not two sides of the same coin.”

He said the character and business of white people was not tainted by scandals.

“We need white business to champion transformation and view it in their commercial interests. This task is both urgent and unavoidable.”

To read more Click or Copy link: https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/2017-05-16-growing-black-business-good-for-sa-says-gigaba/

America is still segregated. We need to be honest about why…


Residential segregation exacerbates many national problems. In education, a black-white achievement gap persists largely because the poorest pupils are concentrated in racially homogenous schools where instruction is overwhelmed by children’s out-of-school challenges; these schools are segregated because their neighborhoods are segregated.

Growing inequality partly reflects a racial wealth gap. Middle-class white Americans are more likely to live in neighborhoods with rising home values (and thus, family equity) while their middle-class black counterparts are more likely to rent, or live in neighborhoods with stagnant values.

Hostile, sometimes fatal confrontations between police and African American youth might be rarer if the poorest young people were not concentrated in neighborhoods lacking well-resourced schools, good jobs and transportation to better opportunities. In integrated neighborhoods with substantial middle class populations, police perform as public servants, not as an occupying force.

Only if neighborhoods are segregated “de jure”, by explicit government policy, is remedial action permitted. Indeed, the constitution requires remedies for de jure segregation.

In truth, de facto segregation is largely a myth. As my new book, The Color of Law, recounts, racially explicit government policy in the mid-twentieth century separated the races in every metropolitan area, with effects that endure today.

The New Deal created our first civilian public housing, intended to provide lodging mostly for lower-middle class white families during the Depression. The Roosevelt administration built a few projects for black families as well, but almost always segregated. At the time, many urban neighborhoods were integrated because workers of both races lived in walking distance of downtown factories. The Public Works Administration (PWA) demolished many such integrated neighborhoods – deemed slums – to build segregated housing instead, creating segregation where it had never before existed.

In his autobiography, The Big Sea, the poet and novelist Langston Hughes described going to high school in an integrated Cleveland neighborhood where his best friend was Polish and he dated a Jewish girl. The PWA cleared the area to build one project for whites and another for African Americans. Previously integrated neighborhoods in Cambridge, Atlanta, St Louis, San Francisco and elsewhere also gave way to segregated public housing, structuring patterns that persisted for generations.

During the second world war, white and black Americans flocked to jobs in defense plants, sometimes in communities that had no tradition of segregated living. Yet the government built separate projects for black and white citizens, determining future residential boundaries. Richmond, California, was the nation’s largest shipbuilding center. It had few African Americans before the war; by its end, some 15,000 were housed in a federal ghetto along the railroad tracks.

By the mid-1950s, projects for white Americans had many unoccupied units while those for African Americans had long waiting lists. The contrast became so conspicuous that all public housing was opened to African Americans. As industry relocated to suburbs, jobs disappeared and public housing residents became poorer. A program that originally addressed a middle-class housing shortage became a way to warehouse the poor.

Why did white housing projects develop vacancies while black ones had long waiting lists? It largely resulted from a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) program that guaranteed loans to builders of suburban subdivisions, on the explicit condition that black families be excluded and that house deeds prohibit resale to them. In the late 1940s, William Levitt could never independently have amassed capital to construct 17,000 houses in what became Levittown, east of New York City. He could do so only because the FHA relieved banks of risk in making development loans, provided homes were for whites only.

Urban public housing, originally for middle-class white Americans and later for lower-income African Americans, combined with FHA subsidized suburbanization of whites, created a “white noose” around urban black families that persists to this day.

In 1968, the Fair Housing Act permitted African Americans to access previously white neighborhoods. But it prohibited only future discrimination, without undoing the previous 35 years of government-imposed segregation. In suburbs like Levittown that sprouted nationwide in the 1940s and 50s, houses sold for about $100,000 (in today’s currency), twice the national median income.

FHA-amortized mortgages were affordable for working-class families of either race, although only whites were allowed. Today, these houses sell for $400,000, seven times national median income, unaffordable to working-class families. Meanwhile, whites who suburbanized with federal protection gained $300,000 in equity to use for children’s college tuition, care for aging parents, or medical emergencies. Black families remaining as renters gained no such security.

Our belief in “de facto” segregation is paralyzing. If our racial separation stems from millions of individual decisions, it is hard to imagine the millions of different choices that could undo it. But if we remember that residential segregation results primarily from forceful and unconstitutional government policy, we can begin to consider equally forceful public action to reverse it. Learning this history is the first step we can take.

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