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  • Writer's pictureJesse Ledbetter

Redlining Richmond, part 2

This week's blog should make you ill. The language that will be used will reference the actual history of redlining in the City of Richmond. This is by no means supposed to be an endorsement of such policy, but rather a frank look at how recial bias was institutionalized by the federal government, nationwide through the Home Owner's Loan Corporation "Residential Security" maps, with such shocking descriptions of areas as "Infiltration of Negroes." If you find this disturbing, you're a human being with conscience intact.

HOLC existed from 1933-1954 for the original expressed purpose of preventing foreclosure and expanding buying opportunities. This, however, as we will see, needs an important last phrase added to it, "IF, you are not a minority."

Sections that were labeled "D" above were not eligible of mortgages of any sort under the program, and if we look closer, in the lower-left side of Westover Hills, labeled B8, this section of guidance included the following - the area was described as having "High type salaried men," but contained an expressed forbidding of loans to "Negroes" in this area.

There is no way to "misinterpret" the historic data. In 1888 the state of Virginia began to use race-based deed restrictions to keep minorities from living in certain areas, and to cordon them off to others. Those racist policies were in use until 1948, well into the new policy of HOLC. From the time of reconstruction (and the racist post-war policies are legion) this was a planned, documented, and efficiently executed plan. This is what makes conversations with those who deny institutional racism in America's past so frustrating, there is a well-documented paper trail available everywhere.

This installment is designed to draw your attention to undeniable, historical facts. In our future installments, we will begin to address the long term impacts of these facts. However, it is important to understand. These. Are. FACTS.

In order to understand the America that is emerging into the future, that "more perfect union," that all Americans should hope for, we need to understand the level of "imperfection" that we are coming from, and that this is not ancient history. This was the policy of the day that was in effect in the lifetime of you, or your parents, or grandparents. These policies were designed to keep minorities in areas with low access to financial and educational opportunities for generations.

It would be a cancer on our collective soul to ever become that America "again."

Further Reading:

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