The United States has a history of institutional racism in our housing policies. We really need to talk more about it.
Over 40 people gathered on February 27 at Living Spirit United Methodist in Minneapolis to share in “Unpacking Race & Housing,” one of many excellent sessions offered through Beacon Academy. Over the course of a few short hours, we grappled with the intricate and unjust laws that throw up barriers to home ownership for people of color, and the implications each generation of laws had upon future generations of families. From “sundown towns” to race as a determining factor in home appraisal value, we saw how decisions at both the federal and local level explicitly buttressed segregation and wealth inequality along racial lines. And though many of the more-egregious practices are harder to detect nowadays, they are still alive and well in forms such as predatory sub-prime loans, intentional gentrification, and overrepresentation of racial minorities among the population of those experiencing homelessness.
Participants acknowledged the discomfort the conversation caused, and the necessity of such uncomfortable conversations to facilitate meaningful change. It’s easy to think that barriers to home for people of color are inflated or relics of the past. However, such thinking is neither accurate nor productive. Instead, as chorused by the session participants, we must learn from our history, understand racism’s continued impact on housing, and seek equitable solutions to ensure all people have a home.
This process isn’t easy, and it won’t be sorted out in a single evening. Beacon has begun this journey ourselves, mindful that educating ourselves is one of the most important steps we can take as we seek to build a more equitable future. And through the opportunities provided through Beacon Academy and other resources, it is possible to begin the journey on a solid footing in courageous community together.
We hope you'll join us.