Jul 25, 2020 at 12:01 AM
In an article about Orrville’s community review panel, two minority business owners reported they were unable to get assistance from the Orrville Area Chamber of Commerce when they were starting out because they couldn’t afford the membership fees.
Their story is an important one that is invisible to most of us white people.
The truth is a racial wealth gap still exists. According to the Economic Policy Institute, Black Americans with a college degree in 2018 had less wealth than white families where the head of household had dropped out of high school. Why? To start, former slaves after the Civil War had no land or money of their own so they often resorted to sharecropping for their former owners who exploited them. According to Professor Davis Houck, Census records in the 1940s showed Black Americans in the South were working 60 hours a week, 52 weeks a year. Their income? Zero.
Black Americans were not allowed to participate in the “New Deal” home-mortgage expansions that started during this period. If you own a home, you have a form of wealth you can leave your children and, over time, wealth can accumulate and be used to invest in education or a business.
Redlining — segregating minorities in particular areas and/or denying them loans to invest in those neighborhoods or to allow them to leave — also began at this time, and studies show some discriminatory practices in mortgage loans