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There has been one theme I have wanted to do throughout the 3+ years I have been sending our words-a-day. Yet I hesitated, facing a dilemma. A somber tone would not be appropriate for this daily messages. Yet a light tone would risk being seriously offensive and inappropriate for the serious subject.

Today I take that risk. If I offend, please forgive me. Our theme will be "words of discrimination against blacks".

redlining – a policy of refusing home mortgages or home insurance to specific areas – typically areas of black residence
[From practices of encircling the neighborhood, on a map, with thick red lines]
[The asserted rationale will be financial risk, of course, but the policy sweeps all loans in the area, however secure, into the same blanket prohibition.]
    "The same bank presidents who offer gifts to help our segregated schools," a mother in Chicago said, "are the ones who have assured their segregation by redlining neighborhoods like these for 30 years, and they are the ones who send their kids to good schools in Winnetka."
    – Jonathan Kozol, Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools
 
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quote:
Originally posted by wordcrafter:
There has been one theme I have wanted to do throughout the 3+ years I have been sending our words-a-day. Yet I hesitated, facing a dilemma. A somber tone would not be appropriate for this daily messages. Yet a light tone would risk being seriously offensive and inappropriate for the serious subject.

Today I take that risk. If I offend, please forgive me. Our theme will be "words of discrimination against blacks".


A few days ago I was listening to a programme on BBC Radio Four about Sundown Towns (from the slogan outside one saying "No blacks to stay in this town after sundown").
 
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how interesting...

I had heard of 'redlining' before, but only in reference to Jews...
 
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There were quite a few Sundown Towns in Illinois, in the area away from Chicago.
 
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underground railroad – a secret network of persons and "safe houses", for the clandestine movement of people.
[Originally used for slaves fleeing the US South before 1865. Uses today can be laudable (e.g., children flee a parent's child abuse) or sinister.]
    The suicide bombers Zarqawi [Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi. leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq] sent to Amman on Nov. 9 were all Iraqis. But Zarqawi is also suspected of running or inspiring cells in Britain, France, Spain and the Netherlands, as well as an underground railroad for terrorists between Iraq and Italy.
    – Rod Nordland, Terror For Export: Iraq is the base, Newsweek, Nov. 21, 2005
 
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grandfather clause – an exemption, from a new law or regulation, allowing pre-existing conditions.
to grandfather – to so exempt a pre-existing circumstance
[Origin: rules adopted by former slave states, imposing high literacy/property qualifications for voters, but exempting those whose ancestors had been voters before 1867 -- a time when slaves were denied the vote.]

A grandfather clause be a sensible way to neutralize opposition to the regulation, particularly when the pre-existing use will naturally phase itself out.
    the second phase of the law took to make pit bull puppies illegal … means all pit bull puppies born from now on must be destroyed or shipped out of the province. … Dogs already in the province are grandfathered.
    – Gillian Livingston, Ottawa (Can.) Citizen, Nov. 28, 2005
 
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When today's term is used, an explanation almost always follows, perhaps for the benefit of whites.

DWB – "driving while black". When a black driver is pulled over by a police officer, often the real reason, notwithstanding any pretext, is the offense of DWB.
    I got pulled over when I was behind the wheel of a Porsche in Philly once for what we call DWB - Driving While Black. … in certain parts of Philly sometimes you feel like you're being subjected to the Klan without the sheets.
    – Charles Barkley, I May Be Wrong but I Doubt It

    The room spun with directives about where in Roxbury to get something called a Press and Curl, … how Bob the Chef's was the only place to get good "greens," what sections of Boston were worst for DWB (a condition eliciting many knowing looks and weary head shakes) ...
    – Faith Adiele, Meeting Faith: Journals of a Black Buddhist Nun
DWB has a recent spinoff.
flying while Muslim (occasionally FWM) – refers to subjecting an airline passenger to special scrutiny solely because the person appears to be a Muslim.
    The biggest single misunderstanding Muslims face is the unfair notion they are all terrorists. The worst place for a Muslim or Arab, therefore, is the airport. ... Some Muslims try to avoid flying, or as they call it, Flying While Brown or Flying While Muslim.
    – Muslims: from unseen to highly visible
    , Seattle Times, Dec. 12, 2005
 
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The dictionaries do not define today's term, so in presenting it I will give extra examples. The term comes from the Bible: "Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married." Isaiah 62:4 (KJV) In Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, the Land of Beulah is the peaceful land in which the pilgrim awaits the call to the Celestial City.

Beulah Land – a place of pastoral peace and plenty; also, the North as a place of escape from slavery
[often connotes such a place reached after privation; sometimes connotes one as a temporary stop on the way to something even better]
    ... compared the crossing of the Ohio River to the entry of the Israelites into the biblical Land of Canaan. … On reaching "Beulah Land," one woman was so overcome with emotion that she felt a physical lightness to the air, a quality unknown in the land of bondage.
    – Milton C. Sernett, Bound for the Promised Land: African American Religion and the Great Migration

    People were intoxicated by bewildering visions; they spoke dazedly, as if under the force of a spell. "... Go west, folks! ... The farther west, the better the land!" ... Men beheld in feverish dreams the endless plains, teeming with fruitfulness, glowing, out there where day sank into night – a Beulah Land of corn and wine!
    – Ole Edvart Rolvaag, Giants in the Earth

    Tanzania might seem to be a Beulah Land if you stick to the parks and the game preserves, and get back in your hotel by sunset. ... But, putting the tourist daze aside, Tanzania is truly a poor country."
    – P. J. O'Rourke, Eat the Rich

    [Gantry speaking] "Why – I was thinking how happy well all be when we are purified and at rest in Beulah Land."
    – Sinclair Lewis, Elmer Gantry
 
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blockbusting – inducing homeowners to sell hastily at a low prices, by stirring fear of minority encroachment and falling property values
[but more commonly used as a synonym for 'blockbuster', as in 'a blockbuster movie'. This sense seems to have begun as a sports usage in thte 1950s.]

restrictive covenant – a provision in a property deed, restricting the use by buyer and his successors
[can also refer to an employee's covenent not to enter competition with the employer]
A restrictive covenant can be benign: no business usage serving alcohol. But there have been vicious race-based covenants, restricting home-occupancy to Caucasians only, have been used. In 1949 they were held to be unconstitutional in the U.S.
    Developers and real estate agents in Queens have been using "scare tactics" analogous to the practice of "blockbusting" in the 1960s and '70s, when real estate agents used race to coerce families in some city neighborhoods to sell their homes and move out, two City Council members said yesterday.
    – David Lombino, New York Sun, Nov. 22, 2005

    the Kensington and Chelsea borough council said it was considering a plan that would restrict sales of new houses in the area to local residents. Under U.K. law, that's allowed. So far, the proposals are modest. When the council gives permission for new properties to be built, however, they would have to be sold with a restrictive covenant stipulating that only local people may buy.
    – Matthew Lynn, Bloomberg News, Nov. 30, 2005
 
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Some things never change. The 1830s saw a music-mania akin to the Beatlemania of the 1960s.
    a young lady in a sort of inspired rapture, throwing her weight alternately upon the tendon Achilles of the one, and the toes of the other foot, her left hand resting upon her hip, her right… extended aloft, gyrating as the exigencies of the song required, and singing Jim Crow at the top of her voice. – Y. S. Nathanson
Jim Crow – pertaining to systematic segregation of Blacks

Jim Crow was the Black character in the song-and-dance show of one Thomas Dartmouth Rice. Rice's show, beginning about 1828, was so popular that it traveled from the U.S. to London, and his catchy lead song may have been the first black music to "catch on" with the white U.S. public. The eponym Jim Crow, for a black, began to be used for segregated railroad cars for blacks, and from there became a general term of segregation.

Our first quotation is from a slave's autobiography.
    Being in servitude to the Anglo-Saxon race, I was not put into a "Jim Crow car," on our way to Rockaway, neither was I invited to ride through the streets on the top of trunks in a truck; but every where I found the same manifestations of that cruel prejudice, which so discourages the feelings, and represses the energies of the colored people.
    – Harriet Ann Jacobs, 1813-1897, Incidents in the life of a slave girl.: Written by herself., Edited by L. Maria Child (1861) [Similar in The Atlanta Constitution, October 13, 1870, p.1]

    He told of the elderly man who got as far as Cincinnati and then took a train but became confused about which car he should ride in. A redcap went to great lengths to convince the old man that north of the Ohio River he was in the Promised Land; there were no Jim Crow cars.
    – Milton C. Sernett, Bound for the Promised Land

    These hundreds of thousands of black veterans [of WWII] had fought to make the world safe for democracy, not Jim Crow, and upon their return, they determined, many of them, to do something about what they found.
    – Robert Caro, Master of the Senate
 
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blockbusting – inducing homeowners to sell hastily at a low prices, by stirring fear of minority encroachment and falling property values

I believe that blockbusting has an opposite meaning as well, meaning the purposeful introduction of a minority (usually African-American) to allow other houses to be sold to African-Americans. One could argue that this is the same, but because integrating neighborhoods was very difficult (and problems still exist, as this blog post suggests) , one can see how blockbuster might have a positive meaning. You can see it here in this Economist article

The sudden demand for labour attracted another 200,000 southern blacks to Chicago between 1940 and 1950. Almost all settled in black neighbourhoods, making the already cramped living conditions there intolerable. Attempts by blacks to move into white areas (dubbed "blockbusting") sparked race riots.

The later meaning of convincing white homeowners to sell in order at below market values to make a profit seems to have came after this (as I doubt that the notion of breaking down housing segregation was even possible before WWII) and was eventually outlawed in 1968 with the Fair Housing Act.

I also think that blockbusting derives from the noun 'blockbuster' which is defined here

This critical mass need not have been big sometimes, the move-in of a single black family (the blockbuster) was enough to signal to the neighborhood that it was done for. This pattern was so clear and so pervasive that it serves as solid evidence for Joness case that integration of the urban neighborhoods was not the true goal displacement was.

This may be related to the possible etymology of 'blockbuster' as a bomb large enough to destroy a city block. Some googling turns up this page that says:

The actual origin of "blockbuster," however, is a bit grimmer than just another lame Hollywood schlockfest. The term arose during World War II as Royal Air Force slang for an extremely large (as much as 8000 pounds) type of bomb, so powerful that it was capable of destroying an entire city block of buildings. After the war ended, "blockbuster" was appropriated by the advertising industry in the 1950s, who added it to their arsenal of superlatives alongside "astounding," "incredible" and "revolutionary."

Some suggest that a movie gets the term from lines surrounding the block waiting to buy tickets, but that seems a bit strained to me. I could much more easily imagine it as a WWII term that got picked up by both advertising and real estate.

cheers
joe tomei
 
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Just for the record I like this colour scheme.
 
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Joe, thank you a ton, and welcome to our humble home.
 
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Joe, welcome, welcome, welcome! Smile Big Grin Wink Cool

Please stay with us...we'd love someone from Japan.
 
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