Is structural racism responsible for the rise of the white middle class?

Is structural racism responsible for the rise of the white middle class and the rise of the black under class?

From this site:

http://www.prrac.org/full_text.php?text_id=1098&item_id=10191&newsletter_id=90&header=Symposium:%20Structural%20Racism

If the above is true, it would seem that whites where given an advantage a sort of “Affirmative Action” if you will.

It certainly sounds like affirmative action to me. The information does not sound unreasonable.

But in fairness, the article does not cite the origin of the information.

The raw facts tend to be true, but the conclusion drawn is not accurate.
While racism prevented blacks from participating in the rise of the middle class, there is no reason to presume (or conclude) that it required the oppression of blacks to accomplish the elevation of whites. In other words, whites were not given assistance at the expense of blacks (unless one can show that the programs would not have been available if blacks had been included).

That blacks were excluded from Levittown (and similar places) and mortgages and college funds and job opportunities is indisputable. That their inclusion would have harmed whites is not. It was not a zero-sum game.

Now, there were aspects of society in which a zero-sum game did take place: primarily in jobs. A lot of people who now claim that their immigrant ancestors made it “on their own” and that they “owe nothing” to blacks are ignoring aspects of the labor market in which blacks were treated as last hired/first fired and many blacks lost their jobs during hard times only to see those same jobs be given to white immigrants when things got better. There we can talk about whites getting ahead at the expense of blacks.

However, when looking at the FHA, the GI Bill, and “steering” blacks to inferior jobs from the 1930s or late 1940s on, the exclusion of blacks did not specifically aid whites. Had blacks been given funds to buy houses or go to college, whites would not have been deprived of the same opportiunities. Even based on a ratio of 9:1 (based on a 10% black population at that time), “diverting” funds to blacks would not have seriously interfered with money going to whites. In an expanding economy, permitting more blacks to participate would not have deprived more whites of opportunities and the addition of a better educated and better employed black population would have further increased the economy, continuing to permit the whites near the bottom more opportunities.

I agree with tomndebb, so my answers would be “No” and “no, but it made it bigger.” tomndebb covered why I think the first; as for the second there’d be an underclass with or without racism. There’s an underclass of all races and always has been as far back as the term class has meaning; it’s just that racism made the black portion of it bigger and harder to escape from in America.

Arguments advanced for the condition of the “black class” must account for equivalent failures of the black class in all other societies. If blacks are doing poorly as a class in the US, but doing fabulously in Europe, say, or in countries that are predominately black, look for something specific to US history.

If they are are doing poorly worldwide compared to other populations, look for a universal reason not specific to the US.

Enforcing racially-restrictive covenants was ruled unconstitutional in 1948.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shelley_v._Kraemer

But de facto segregation continued of course. I think the quote in the OP is essentially true.

I don’t think structural racism is responsible for the rise of the white middle class, for the reasons tomndebb stated. But, is structural racism, even as recently as one generation ago, responsible for for the black underclass? Yes, yes, yes. Certainly a big contributor. Whites were given advantages blacks were systematically withheld from having, that was a major influence on the situation we see today with remote, but wealthy, white suburbs, and poor black urban areas.

This is why I’m always so gobsmacked when people are against affirmative action. There have been long held historic inequalities that have favored whites, and it has not been that long since they were ended (if in fact they truly are, which I think is debatable in some areas). Why is it wrong to try to rectify that now? People say, “They need to do it themselves,” but whites didn’t do it themselves (as evidenced by the preferrential government handouts Sumisu_919 outlined), so to me it always just sounds like, “I got mine, tough luck, screw you.”

Can we really make this statement about a world with finite resources?

If blacks were not allowed to colonize surburbs, go after good jobs, and join the military (and then becoming eligible for the GI bill), that meant that ultimately whites faced less competition for good real estate and high-paying positions. So in effect, black exclusion was of direct benefit to whites because it made wealth-attainment easier for them. How much easier? I don’t know. But I’d imagine significantly in areas where blacks were present in high concentrations relative to whites.

I see where you acknowledge that jobs are more of a zero-sum game; where I don’t agree with you is when you suggest that those other things (GI bill, housing, etc.) don’t also have a give-take relationship.

It seems reasonable to argue that racist politics have obstructed the movement of blacks into the middle class. I don’t think that’s even debatable, really. To say that it’s responsible for the rise of the white middle class is a strange set of terms to use, but probably literally correct.

If blacks had had an easier time getting FHA loans, then there would have been more blacks seeking housing–with the ability to pay for it. After a brief crunch of competition at the beginning, where there were not yet the resources to provide all the desired additional housing, then the FHA money would have provided more incentive for more builders to expand. The expanding housing market would have simply grown to a size 10% (or so) larger than it did.
(In fact, this did happen on a limited scale. In major Rust Belt cities, where labor was desperately sought, blacks had better chances to get into the factories. While they were definitely subjected to discriminatory pay scales, they were still making a lot more than the preceding generation or their rural cousins. In those cases, (as long as they stuck to their restricted neighborhoods, of course) they enjoyed the same sort of housing boom that the whites did. Around Detroit, for example, the houses in Livonia (a suburb with several predominantly black neighborhoods) are comparable to the houses of nearby suburbs built at the same time. I am sure that the blacks had to provide high down payments and were charged higher rates, but the builders were more than willing to take their money and build their houses.
When the GI bill was first introduced, lots of discharged military had to wait to get into overcrowded colleges. Within a very short time, universities were expanding, small colleges were popping up like mushrooms, and any (white) ex-GI could get into any college. Had the blacks been allowed to participate more fully, the burgeoning “build a school” program would have simply expanded a little bit more (powered by the additional cash that the black GIs would have added to the system).

Finite resources are not an issue regarding the U.S. economy between 1945 and the 1970s. The discrimination directed against the black community actually dragged down the larger white community by resricting the amount of capital that could be kept in circulation.

There’s only a finite amount of space and with more “integration”, there would be a rise of the “people” middle class as opposed to the “white” middle class.

I think this is wishful thinking on your part, especially since it didn’t happen this way. Those at the levers of power felt and or thought that the inclusion of blacks would have not given rise to the result that they wanted which is why blacks were excluded. If it were all about the numbers there would be no need to exclude according to race.

Yes. That’s also why there’s a white middle class in Germany, Sweden, New Zealand, and… pretty much everywhere there’s whites. Because of the exploitation of American blacks. And Japan. Where would Japan be today if it weren’t for the exploitation of black people?

Those bastards.

Where’s the large underclass in Japan? Germany, hmmm, didn’t something awful happen there during WW II? Look I know this kind of discussion may be a hot button issue for you, but you have to come better than this, I think.

The limits on the “finite” space in the period under discussion were so far beyond our ability to exceed them as to make them, effectively, limitless in that period. Have you seen the suburban growth of the previous 20 years? What would have been the barrier or limit (considering how far we have come, now) in 1950 when our population was only 151 million?

Blacks were excluded because society as a whole bought into 90 years of expressed beliefs that blacks “could not” participate equally or were “unworthy” to participate equally that was, in turn, based on the preceding two hundred years of propaganda designed to rationalize slavery. Rather than a belief that blacks should not be admitted to the economy because they would harm white economy, the belief was simply that blacks should not be permitted to enter the economy for any number of specious “moral” reasons involving not trusting them on any number of levels of behavior.

Do we have any documentation of financiers or congresscritters or developers or other persons stating that blacks needed to be excluded because they would subtract from general “white” wealth?
There is another, in some ways uglier, side to this. As the 1943 Detroit riots had reasserted, far too many whites had bought into the belief that blacks were inferior and the whites refused to share their neighborhoods. The New York, Pennsylvania, and new Jersey Levittowns were all (later) criticized for their exclusion of blacks, but William Levitt made no bones about the fact that he was in business to make money and opening those towns to blacks would have prevented him from selling the majority of his houses. Had he thought that he could make money selling houses to blacks, he probably would have, but since his goal was to build enormous quantities of inexpensive houses to make his profits on volume, he was unwilling to permit blacks to enter his neighborhoods and reduce his profits and he did not think there was a market for smaller neighborhoods devoted to black housing. In other words, his motives were driven by his own desire for personal profit, not by anydesire to promote “white” wealth (or prevent “black” wealth).

Is structural racism responsible for the rise of the white middle class? Let’s ask the converse - if there were no structural racism, would the white middle class be the same size it was prior to slavery/segregation/etc.?

It’s hard to see that the white middle class, in the U.S. at least, would not have grown substantially, regardless of what racial policies were in place. That could certainly vary by location and situation, but nationally, I just don’t see that the white middle class would have been stagnant if segregation and racism did not exist.

On the other hand, asking the question, “if there were no structural racism, would the black underclass be the same size?” seems to me to lead to the answer that racial policies have indeed played a significant role. As some of the other posters have mentioned, I don’t think the two issues are connected so strongly that racial oppression is required for the white majority to succeed.

My view is that the white middle class could well be larger, and probably wealthier, if there had been no segregation or racism, just because more people with more resources tend to interact more, buy more, and make everyone better off. Any resources that have been sunk to oppress people cannot be a good investment.

You can make the same argument about slave traders as their motives were purely economic.

Ref the original quote, are we now supposed to believe that because the majority who were uprooted from their (compared to living in the field) comfortable lifestyles and loved ones sent off to fight and die were “whities” that the survivors who actually returned and benefited from the G.I. bill were somehow PRIVELIGED?

It seems to be heads you win tails you lose ,if the majority of American forces had been Afro-Americans youd be complaining about that .

Perhaps if people spent less time and effort looking for excuses for under perfomance and more time actually doing something positive about their lot then they might actually make a difference to their quality of life .

Its getting to the point where too much time has passed for the" its every one elses fault but ours "to hold any credibility .
Wearing thin aint in it.

As I said in the other thread if the Jews,Chinese and asian Indians can do it then its possible for all ethnic groups to do it .
Or are you saying that for some reason your particular group cant?

People, the “white middle class” long predates the US of A.

However, you are addressing a different point than that made in this thread. No one has claimed that every black person who suffers, today, is suffering the injustices of 1946. (In fact, nothing in your post appears to relevant to this thread; you seem to have simply taken this opportunity to get quite different topics off your chest.)

Then, despite the fact that I disagree with the premise of the OP, I would have to point out that your position overlooks a substantial amount of history. Blacks were, for example, the only group who were persistently and repeatedly deprived of wealth they had already secured. They are also the only group that has been denied access to education (in several regions) in substantial numbers.

There were numerous cases of riots in which wealthy black neighborhoods were specifically targeted for destruction; the worst case of violence was the Tulsa riot of 1921, but Springfield, Illinois and other wealthy black communities were also subjected to similar destruction. Then, during the Depression, while many whites clearly lost their farms and lands, blacks were caught in the double bind that their loans were called faster and they were faced with harsher terms to secure loans to start over.

This had a double effect that while Chinese, (for example), could build from a smaller population, conserving their wealth, blacks repeatedly found themselves reduced to poverty in successive generations of larger populations so that when individual blacks were successful, they were a smaller percentage of the population and their success did not translate to community success.

Even the statement “group A did it, why can’t group B?” is based on a wholly flawed premise. The vast majority of blacks have succeeded; 77% of blacks are not living in poverty and a substantial number earn more that $75,000 a year (2001 figures). However, what stands out is the disproportionate percentage of blacks who have not made it when compared to other groups. To pretend that successive deprivations of wealth and persistently poorer education has had nothing to do with creating that situation for such an initially large population is to deny reality.

Its the way of the world unfortunately that if your going to wait until someone gives you what you want on a plate then your going to have a very long wait.
Youd be better off spending your time working together as a community to help yourselves ,you live in a democracy with free speech and anti discrimination laws.its by no means perfect but its as good as youll get in most places in the world and a hell of a alot better then youll get in sub Saharan Africa.
Theres no free lunch ,not now .not then ,not ever .No matter if your black White or Polka dot.

“Gob smacked” suggests your a Brit but if you are American then its racist to lump all Whites together when talking about their antecedents.

When they arrived in the New World they spoke a plethora of languages,many were ill educated and dirt poor with only the clothes on their backs but they didnt moan about it.
And they most certainly arent moaning about it all these years later .

Fair enough they didnt arrive as slaves though many of the earlier ones were( but they called it indentured I believe),but you can thank your African Forefathers for introducing the concept of slavery to the Europeans of that time and supplying the slaves themselves.

Who exactly is the “they” who decided to give all this extra help to the Whites?
Could it perhaps be Whites themselves?in which case it would be self help after all.

Ref.the sybaritic life style of Whites living in the suburbs while the down trodden Afro-Americans grind out their grim lives in the city.

Why arent whites queing up to live in Black areas?The location isnt the main denominator,its the people that make the area not the old myth that the area makes the people.
The proof ?in the U.K. in some areas the middle class have taken over areas that were formerly extreme slums and the changes have been very sharp decreases in littering,graffiti,petty crime,anti social behaviour plus the houses and yards are noticeably cleaner and tidier.

These people are living in the self same cramped little properties that their predecessors were living in but were used to excuse their behaviour and lack of self discipline .“Oh yes its no wonder that they turn out like they do having to live in shoeboxes like that”.

As to positive discrimination as we call it over here ,our police forces are undermanned nationally but a regulation has been brought in that the forces MUST recruit fixed proportions from various ethnic groups ,there are people queing up to enlist but arent allowed to because because for example it is currently being found impossible to admit the required numbers of Afro Caribbean candidates ,theres plenty of applicants but most dont reach the educational standards necessary so as a result white candidates of the desired level cant join ,sounds like racism to me but being practiced against Whitey.
Having a level playing field educationally is NOT discriminating against Black people,the educational standard is a basic requirment to be able to carry out the job.

For gods sake stop making excuses and get on with it .