Guest post: Guess who some of those other racist developers were

Guest post by James Garnett

Today on I see that Donald Trump gave a speech in which he says that he will “fix the inner cities”. He complained about violence and shootings, declaring “we, as a society, cannot tolerate this level of violence and suffering”. It seems like he thinks that the problem of “the inner cities” is violence, and moreover that his solution is probably stricter sentencing, prison terms, etc.

But what really is the “problem” of the inner cities in America’s larger metropolitan areas? Surely there are many causes, but one that seems to be consistent is poverty. Violence always naturally follows where poverty takes root. It didn’t used to be like that, though—poverty was not always endemic in urban areas. So what happened?

Bill O’Reilly’s hometown of Levittown can shed some light on that. Levittown was a development for returning veterans after WWII, promising affordable homes away from the city center, but with one catch: only white people were allowed to purchase the homes. This was laid out, explicitly, in the purchase contracts. Remember, these were affordable homes that people could own, rather than continuing to rent in the cities. So of course, there was urban flight of the white population from the population center, towards Levittown. If you were black, then even if you had the ability to obtain a mortgage to buy a home in Levittown, they wouldn’t sell to you. So you stayed downtown, renting, and not just any rents, either—high rents, with sometimes onerous conditions upon them.

Over time, those homes in Levittown (which is approaching 40 years old, I believe) grew in value. Equity accumulated. They are apparently quite pricey now, and those families that were lucky enough to buy in when they were affordable are now fundamentally wealthy. Meanwhile, the people left behind in the cities remain just as poor, or poorer, than they were before. They were denied the opportunity to accumulate 40 years of equity, simply because of racist policies by developers.

And guess who some of those other racist developers were, who denied housing to minorities? People like Donald Trump’s father, who built a real estate empire in the same way that Levittown was built.

That’s right, Trump: YOU and yours broke the inner cities. And now you claim that you, and only you, can fix the problem? By imposing stricter laws? How is that going to address the problem of poverty and denial of access to ways to develop real wealth—the problem that YOU caused?

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