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Words concerning Anti-Black Discrimination

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December 11, 2005, 07:27
wordcrafter
Words concerning Anti-Black Discrimination
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.]
December 11, 2005, 10:45
Dianthus
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").
December 11, 2005, 13:06
hepburn26
how interesting...

I had heard of 'redlining' before, but only in reference to Jews...
December 11, 2005, 15:25
Seanahan
There were quite a few Sundown Towns in Illinois, in the area away from Chicago.
December 11, 2005, 19:18
wordcrafter
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.]
December 13, 2005, 06:39
wordcrafter
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.
December 14, 2005, 06:48
wordcrafter
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.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.
December 15, 2005, 07:29
wordcrafter
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]
December 16, 2005, 06:49
wordcrafter
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.
December 17, 2005, 07:10
wordcrafter
Some things never change. The 1830s saw a music-mania akin to the Beatlemania of the 1960s.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.
December 17, 2005, 08:52
Joe Tomei
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
December 17, 2005, 08:57
BobHale
Just for the record I like this colour scheme.


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.

My current blog.
Photographs to accompany Anyone Can DO It available from www.lulu.com
My photoblog The World Through A lens
December 17, 2005, 16:36
shufitz
Joe, thank you a ton, and welcome to our humble home.
December 17, 2005, 17:29
Kalleh
Joe, welcome, welcome, welcome! Smile Big Grin Wink Cool

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