The underlying subtlety of American racism first became clear to me as a 23 year old welfare caseworker, working on 125th Street in Harlem. I needed some food for dinner and went into the local supermarket of a large chain, that in fact was the same chain in which I shopped in my own neighborhood. There was a different feel to this store than in my home store. The lighting was poorer, the store fitting’s were older and dingier. In my mind, I chalked those differences up to the particular age of this store and other factors that could be easy to explain. However, when I came to the meat department the differences were not subtle at all. The meats displayed were of a poorer quality for the same cuts of beef, yet the prices were higher than in my own upscale neighborhood.
I imagine that many ”White people“ might read this and chalk it up to an isolated individual instance, related from the perspective of 50 years past. However, the balance of my 37 year career in social services, working extensively in the neighborhoods of people of color, differences in the retail shopping experiences for people of color were constantly apparent. This, however, need not be viewed from my individual perspective, since for lo those many 50 years, study after study has shown that people of color pay more for consumer services across the board than do their White neighbors. I think even that this essential fact is widely accepted by all.
That this greater expense runs from the cost of consumer loans, the added points on home mortgages, the higher cost of buying a car, or even the fact that Supermarket chains in their areas of abode are few and far between as this article considers:
It shouldn’t take a road trip to shop, by Nathan Berg, Dallas News: ”…[M]any of us take it for granted that there are grocery stores in our neighborhoods selling a wide variety of nutritious foods at relatively low cost. But not all residents of … cities are so lucky, especially if they live in low-income areas.
Lack of access to a grocery store often means lack of access to fresh vegetables, fruits and meats. Imagine buying your food primarily from convenience stores and fast food chains. More than convenience is at stake. Costs are generally higher. And the foods typically contain high concentrations of unhealthy fats, carbohydrates and additives, which contribute to obesity, diabetes and heart disease.”
The mindset of Republican conservatives seems to be that we live in a ”post racial“ American era due to the election of Barack Obama. The underlying meaning of their ”post racial“ posturing, is that it allows them to deny the covert and overt racism which they have fed their base to get elected. This allows them to claim anyone who charges racism to be playing the race card. This playing implies that the person calling out racism, is thus a racist them-self. Yesterday I wrote about the fact that it has been 48 years since the Reverend Martin Luther King was murdered. While MLK actually accomplished much for his people and for all Americans in his short life, when it comes to the innate racism of American society it still exists to the extent that being a person of color puts someone at a great disadvantage both economically and socially. Those blowhards who dismiss racism as merely a detail to be overcome by hard work and education are ignoring the institutional biases that are in place to ensure that People of Color are at a distinct disadvantage to their White counterparts.
An example of this institutional disadvantage is making the rounds today in articles regarding a study which shows that Black people pay substantially more for car insurance:
Racism in America Is So Pervasive, It Extends All the Way to White People Paying Less for Car Insurance
Black people pay more than whites for car insurance, even when the risk is lower
”It’s expensive to be black in America. From cradle to grave, for everything from starter home loans to burial insurance, African Americans are confronted with a paywall that demands they fork over more than whites. Driving a car, a critical element of the American Dream, is yet another area where being black incurs a surcharge. Studies find blacks are charged higher interest on car loans, quoted higher prices by car dealers and, according to a new ProPublica and Consumer Reports investigation, given far heftier car insurance bills. The report finds that between 2012 and 2014 in California, Illinois, Missouri and Texas, top insurers including Allstate, Geico and Liberty Mutual leveraged “premiums that were on average 30 percent higher in zip codes where most residents are minorities than in whiter neighborhoods with similar accident costs.”
Those premium variances can ultimately amount to significant differences in blacks and whites’ monthly cash expenditures, hurting African Americans’ buying power in other areas and life outcomes in general. ProPublica cites Chicagoan Otis Nash, who is black and lives in a majority-black neighborhood, and pays $190.69 a month in insurance costs for his Honda Civic LX, the only means he has of getting to his two jobs during his six-day workweek. Across town, Ryan Hedges, who is white and lives in a white neighborhood, is billed just $54.67 a month for insurance on his 2015 Audi Q5 Quattro. Based on a series of issues, from car cost to the number of accident claims filed in their respective communities, Nash’s insurance premiums should be lower than Hedges’. Instead, as ProPublica notes, Geico “actually give[s] a discount to the riskier white neighborhood.”
This practice of price gouging on insurance premiums for residents of black neighborhoods—which is another way of saying black drivers—held true again and again. The investigation looked at “more than 100,000 premiums charged for liability insurance” in the “four states that release the type of data needed to compare insurance payouts by geography.” Investigators defined “minority zip codes” as those with more than 66 percent non-white residents in California and Texas, and 50 percent in Missouri and Illinois, due to demographic demands.”
Follow the link to see the complete evidence of the price gouging by auto insurance companies when it comes to People of Color.
The blind and the hypocritical politicos, who deny the innate reality of American racism blame the problem on one stereotype, or another that they cast upon those who are merely the innocent victims. The White majority accepts these false critiques, because they are sadly in denial about their own White Privileges. The truth is that it is almost impossible for any but the extremely talented to lift themselves out of a whole when dirt keeps being shoveled into it. The thumb is on the scale of American equality and this country can never lift itself up to its’ professed ideals unless we first acknowledge the existence of the thumb and then pry it off of the scale.