Memory of the Civil Rights Movement in Real Estate

by B.J. on 4/02/2008 01:15:00 AM 0 comments Print this post

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1 in the morning. Studying for a real estate midterm. Here is what I read in the section on Ethics, Fair Housing, and RESPA in a California Real Estate Book.

This the last part of the section on Civil Rights Act of 1870.

"Both the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the Fourteenth Amenment were largely ineffective inproviding equal rights for almost one hundred years"

This is what immediately follows that section.

"On November 21, 1962, President John F. Kennedy issued an order that prohibited discrimination i housing whereever feeral funds were involved...blah...blah...blah...Thus began the modern-day focus by the federal government to put teeth into antidiscrimination laws as they relate to civil rights and fair housing."

"The Civil Rights Act of 1964 made John Kennedy's 1962 executive order a matter of law and is considered one of the first of the modern civil rights acts. While not as cmprehensive as later acts, it prohibited discrimination in all federally assisted programs."

Reading these passages from our book without knowing US History, you would be lead to assume quite a few things: 1) that Kennedy was really the catalyst for change, and not the years, years of violent, and nonviolent struggle by folks of color that the laws were enacted out of one person's actions, 3) that everything tends to work out nicely and neatly in this nation of laws especially with regards to all types of discrimination

Even though I'm sure the Kennedys aren't the type of people to take full credit of something like the civil rights movement, how it is fixed to be remembered, at least in this book, is that it was the idea of JFKennedy. The book makes it seem as if prejudice was something American people knew all along and something we would've eventually "fixed."

I know that this is real estate class, and perhaps we don't need a complete lesson about Civil Rights, but this type of history completely obliterates any role played by regular people mobilizing and lobbying against stuff like blockbusting, like redlining and like steering. At least give us a case where it came up...some kind of picture as to why we need it. I don't see how it would hurt anyone to know a bit of context behind the abstractions of dates and acts like the "Civil Rights Act of 1968" thrown at us like bricks from a plane.

Those civil rights acts in particular always end up saying the same thing: "prohibits discrimination against race, sex, gender..." The only thing that changes is the year and where it is prohibited, according to this book. And so civil rights just by association becomes a mindless exercise in the obvious.

Perhaps I am being too critical of this one real estate book. Perhaps I underestimate what people know about the civil rights movement.

However, based on the dismissive nature of race-blind discourse, I think not.

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