HUD battles 'Whitopia'

The Obama administration is exploring ways to dismantle America's "Whitopias" -- cities and towns that are overwhelmingly white and that, according to Washington's social engineers, must be remade to reflect more racial and economic diversity. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is proposing a rule - "Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing" - that it hopes will spur demographic changes in communities that receive HUD money; in places, presumably, like Boise, Idaho (too white) or Westport, Connecticut (too white and too rich).

HUD is vague on specifics but states:
"Through this rule, HUD proposes to provide HUD program participants with more effective means to affirmatively further the purposes and policies of the Fair Housing Act, which is Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. The Fair Housing Act not only prohibits discrimination but, in conjunction with other statutes, directs HUD's program participants to take steps proactively to overcome historic patterns of segregation, promote fair housing choice, and foster inclusive communities for all."

Civil rights groups and liberals are overjoyed. "It's not just having people of different colors live together just to do so," Dedrick Muhammad, senior director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, told U.S. News & World Report. "African-Americans and Latinos are more likely to live in segregated communities, that are predominantly lower income, have less strong public resources, less schools and educational opportunities, employment opportunities. This kind of integration strengthens economic equality."

Jim Crow ended long ago, of course. Places like Boise never experienced significant black migration: poor Southern blacks headed to states in the Northeast, Midwest, and West Coast during the Great Migration from the Jim Crow South. As for Westport, it's a wealthy bedroom community of New York City - one composed almost entirely of expensive single-family houses. Blacks and Latinos are welcome -- so long as they have the money to buy a house. Oh, and by the way: Westport's strict zoning rules prohibit residents from parking cars and pick-ups chaotically on front lawns or packing multiple families into a single house. What a relief for those worried about property values, huh? Not surprisingly, Westport has excellent schools; no violent crime; and high levels of civic engagement among its residents.

Hip black writer Rich Benjamin popularized the snide concept of "Whitopia" in his book, "Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America." The folks at HUD and NAACP are no doubt avid readers.

Benjamin's premise, formed during his patronizing encounters with the friendly residents of various "Whitopias," is that these white folks are guilty of "self-segregation" to avoid having to associate with blacks and Latinos; yet in reviews of Benjamin's book, various writers have cited a passage that is revealing; for as Benjamin himself observes:

"Most whites are not drawn to a place explicitly because it teems with other white people. Rather, the place's very whiteness implies other perceived qualities. Americans associate a homogenous white neighborhood with higher property values, friendliness, orderliness, hospitality, cleanliness, safety, and comfort. These seemingly race-neutral qualities are subconsciously inseparable from race and class in many whites' minds. Race is often used as a proxy for those neighborhood traits. And, if a neighborhood is known to have those traits, many whites presume--without giving it a thought--that the neighborhood will be majority white."

Well, no arguments there (except to note that the passage refers to middle-class or affluent communities).

Incidentally, HUD's social engineers might look into the fact that many blacks prefer to live in predominately black communities -- yet nobody calls them racists for their choices. Consider an interesting trend in the liberal and high-tech Mecca of Austin, Texas, where officials have tried in vain to attract significant numbers of "black professionals"  -- yet many blacks who relocate to the Texas capital say they're disappointed that Austin lacks the "black culture" and chances to associate with other blacks that they'd enjoyed, say, in places like Atlanta, Chicago, or Washington D.C., according to the Austin American-Statesman.

Marcus Ferron, a 30-something business owner from Chicago, told the newspaper: "I would see African-Americans everywhere in Chicago. I'd see one or two in Austin." Adding that he enjoys Austin, he nevertheless observed: "I wouldn't want my child to grow up in a bubble," without exposure to black culture.

Imagine, for a moment, if a white father had openly professed that same sentiment; that he preferred that his children attend a good school (a predominately white one) so they could absorb the values and culture he holds dear. He'd be called a racist - yet Marcus Ferron gets a pass because he's black.

Perhaps HUD and Richard "Whitopia" Benjamin should probe this double standard as they rail against communities that are too white for them - yet that nevertheless welcome all who can afford to live there so long as they embrace the prevailing values and culture.

This YouTube clip shows Richard Benjamin and his sojourn into  "Whitopia."

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