Tuesday, September 20, 2005

End redlining.

Redlining is "practice of denying or increasing the cost of services [or goods] to residents of certain areas. The term "redlining" comes from the practice of marking red lines on a map, which banks would do in order to delineate areas they did not want to lend to." You've probably noticed redlining if your driven or walked through neighborhoods different from your own. How do the gas prices compare to those you pay? What about food prices? There are lots of different types of redlining:

* Food redlining happens when "large-scale supermarkets abandon lower-income communities for their more affluent counterparts, leaving entire communities little or no access to affordable, quality food." This contributes to health problems as well: correlations have been found between access to supermarkets and diet-related illnesses (e.g. diabetes).

* Financial redlining restricts access to mortgages, loans, insurance and other financial services. This contributes to housing segregation and discrimination. Predatory lending is also part of this problem.

* Advertising redlining happens when certain products are primarily advertised in certain neighborhoods, regardless of the neighborhood's relative use of the products. Ever notice where tobacco and liquor billboards are located? (Seems the tobacco companies are trying to get black folks to start smoking more, even though white folks are better customers.)

* Housing redlining. In this illegal practice, real estate agents often steer "white homebuyers away from {racially] diverse neighborhoods and lead black and Hispanic homebuyers to lower-income areas." Why do we so often assume that folks of difference class, race, or ethnicity cannot live together?

"So what can I do?"

--> Request full disclosure. If financial and other institutions are forced to disclose discriminatory practices, public or legal pressure may force them to change.

--> Demand just treatment. If you or someone you know is being treated unfairly, demand a change. I learned this early. When I was young, my mother was often dissatisfied at the quality and freshness of the produce in our neighborhood. Instead of driving to another (wealthier, white) community to shop (an option many of our neighbors did not have), she repeatedly talked to managers and supervisors to demand better quality food. If we don't ask for changes, how can we expect them?

--> Press for legislative changes that outlaw redlining. Click here for information on how to communicate with your elected officials, media and community leaders.

--> Boycott business that continue unjust, unfair or unethical practices.

--> Be inspired to action by the successes of folks who've fought: food, financial and other forms of redlining. You can make a difference for yourself, your family, and your community!

"Not being able to do everything is no excuse for not doing everything you can."  - Ashleigh Brilliant


Chel said...

Welcome back! I kept thinking as I wrote about Katrina that I was sure you'd have excellent suggestions. I'm afraid mine paled in comparison to what you could have presented. Thank you for all of the work you do with this site!

Karama said...

Thanks Chel! It's good to be back. I thought of lots of thing to blog about while I was gone, the effects of and response to Katrina among them. I'll write on this in the coming days.

I checked out your suggestions about our response to Katrina and they were great! Thanks for spreading the word.

Thanks again for reading, Chel. Come back again soon.

Chandira said...

Wow. Great post! I had no idea. Well, that's not true I guess, I'd just never brought the idea into conscousness in that way. Too horrible.
Makes me think. Thank you!

Karama said...

I'm glad you liked the post, Chandira. Redlining seems to be one of those injustices that we just accept because we're so used to it. But tradition and common practice don't make it right. And thankfully, it can be stopped.

Thanks for reading, Chandira. I hope you'll visit again soon.

Chandira said...

It's you who deserves the thanks. I really dig what you do. And that you DO something, rather than just talk...
I've psoted a permanent link to you on my blog now. Should've done that a while back!

Karama said...

Thanks a lot, Chandira. I'm so pleased that you find So what can I do? useful and worthwhile.

Take good care.

Karama said...

Here's an excellent resource on avoiding housing discrimination from the Ad Council.