The subject of race is all over the media headlines. Reverend Jeremiah Wright told it like it is and conservative America could not take the strong medicine. Sen. Barack Obama had to prepare his greatest speech to address the frenzy that was and is taking place about it. Imagine, Black people having to explain to White America that there is a racial problem in this nation. That alone signifies the degree of importance this issue is. Denial can be the worst enemy and biggest problem.
Most recently, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice had to weigh in on the issue. She endorsed Sen. Obama's speech and confirmed that indeed Race is still a major problem in the nation. She referred to the matter as a "Birth Defect" that our nation must deal with. It was there at the formation of this great nation and it lingers today – big time. Yes, racism in the United States is institutional and somehow and someway we must all come to terms with it if we are to truly become a most perfect Christian nation.
One of the biggest indicators that racism is still alive and well in America is the experience of the sub-prime mortgage fiasco. President Bush proclaimed with all sincerity that he would like to see a major increase in home ownership amongst minorities in this nation.
That was a noble goal. However, the racist minds listening to that announcement began to construct a very sinister plot. With the logic of the Ku Klux Klan, many mortgage houses began to set up a process targeted for Black perspective homeowners. Not just those looking for home ownership but those who were already comfortable with it. They came up with the plan of "Reverse Redlining."
The conventional "Redlining" has long been used against Black neighborhoods victimizing homeowners, renters and businesses. Insurance companies, banks, investors, etc. would take a red pen and encircle a geographical territory. Nothing within that red circle would receive investment, coverage or business interaction. It was cold hard racism usually intended for Blacks and based solely on the color of their skin. It made no business sense — it is based solely on racial animus.
"Reverse Redlining" is somewhat different. You encircle that same geographical territory but instead of starving the community from business interaction, you flood it with activity – detrimental, fleecing activity. It actually will be predatory and designed to cheat the residents of those communities from fair financial practices. The activity is designed to economically destroy the people and the very land they live on.
The sub-prime mortgage hustle is indeed Reverse Redlining and the economic impact it is having on African Americans is historical and extremely devastating. It is the biggest negative shift in assets and wealth ever put on a group of people in this nation. It is setting back the wealth of Black America by two generations.
The big question is: Is it illegal? Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan thinks so. He says, "It was an accident waiting to happen. Irrational robust exuberance over a scheme that was, in fact, serious criminal fraud."
Serious criminal fraud is a crime. What we have here is a crime directed to a certain group of people based on their race.
So far, the perpetrators of this very larger conspiracy have gotten away without a charge. CEO's have all received "golden parachutes" in retirement packages that will set them for life. They are receiving $40 million, $50 million packages or more for destroying the futures of hardworking Black families. You can go down to the individual mortgage brokers who pursued people in these redlined zones and started them down to the road to ruin. Most of them are getting off the hook. Why even the CEO of Ameriquest, one of the biggest perpetrators, subsequently served as U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands for two years. It's as if he received meritorious distinction for his sinister work against Black neighborhoods.
"What is the U.S. Attorney General, state attorney generals and local prosecutors going to do?"
If the answer is nothing, then the "Birth Defect" that America was born with continues on.
Harry Alford is the co-founder, president/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce.