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It’s who you know and how you look

March 12, 2010

Edgewater Park and Silver Beach Gardens, nestled away in a corner of the Bronx,  sound like attractive communities in which to live. But there are some serious blemishes revealed by a newly-filed lawsuit. If your skin is white, you are likely to be welcomed into the  communities which operate as co-operatives and require three letters of recommendation from current residents for you to join the neighborhood. If you are black, well, here’s what you can expect, as detailed in the lawsuit:

When you show up, the realtor will quickly ask you if you know three people who live there. When you say you don’t know anyone, you will hear that “there’s no way you’re going to get in there.” You will be told that the community is “not wonderful for everybody” and is “like Archie Bunker territory.”  The realtor will refuse to show you any homes in these attractive communities.

If you are white, you will be warmly welcomed and shown nine available homes.  When you express concern about not knowing anyone in the community who can write a recommendation letter for you, you will be reassured that the realtor can help you get the reference letters because “they would love you, I can tell.”

This is not 1950, 1970, 1990, or 2000.  This happened last fall, 2009.

Read the details: Bronx Communities Accused of Preventing Blacks from Buying Homes

These attractive communities are demonstrating the ugliness of systemic whiteness at work.  A community that is overwhelmingly white and wants to remain that way will create a set of  “perfectly acceptable rules,” implicit and explicit, that in actuality are perfect only if you are white. Listen to how white residents in the community defended the requirements of their co-op boards:

“That’s what keeps it nice.” “No one wants garbage in here.” ” If they take this away from us, where else is there to go?”

No Bias Here, Locals Say, Just Very Few Black People

Where else is there to go? How about diving deep into your prejudices and bigotry to seek forgiveness.

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