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Black America’s dreams of homeownership still deferred

10/6/2017, 3:51 p.m.
The late Langston Hughes created a masterful body of poetry in the 20th Century...

“As we move beyond the sub-prime crisis, we continue to see the housing and credit market systematically either deny or send less attractive products to the Black and Latino community,” noted John. A. Powell, an internationally acclaimed professor of law and professor of African American Studies and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

“This problem which is historical, structural and interpersonal will not be addressed unless we face and make affirmative interventions,” continued Powell. “As useful as the data is, it is not enough. The nature of structures is to reproduce the current condition. We can and most do better than that.”

“The fact that borrowers of color face higher interest rates and are less likely to be granted conventional loans is directly responsible for the wealth gap that continues to plague our nation, as well as the wide gap between the percentage of African Americans who own their homes (42 percent) and the percentage of whites who do (73 percent),” said Dr. Julianne Malveaux, a noted economist, author and President Emeritus of Bennett College for Women. “It is imperative that bankers cease these unfair and discriminatory lending practices, and that activists target this lending discrimination.”

For Lisa Rice, executive vice president of the National Fair Housing Alliance, the 2016 data do not reflect a changing America.

“These stark racial and ethnic divisions in mortgage lending, said Rice, “come at a time when our nation’s demographics are in transformation. By 2025 will be even more diverse with households of color representing nearly half of all first-time homebuyers.”

“The private market has a duty to serve everyone fairly,” she continued. “The average family deserves the opportunity to pursue their own American Dream.”

But as Hughes eloquently wrote so many years ago in another poem entitled, “I, Too, Sing America:

“I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.

They send me to eat in the kitchen

When company comes,

But I laugh,

And eat well,

And grow strong.

Tomorrow,

I'll be at the table

When company comes.

Nobody'll dare

Say to me,

‘Eat in the kitchen,’

Then.”

In 2017, is it ‘then’ yet for Black America?

Charlene Crowell is the deputy communications director for the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at Charlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.