A Long Way To Go
To the Editor:
In response to Cathy Reiss’s letter of July 15 about the Black Lives Matter movement:
We are lucky to live in beautiful Newtown. Look around you: trees, green space, wildlife, beautiful homes. What you don’t see are a lot of Black families living in Newtown. This is not an accident. This is a direct result of policies that have systematically excluded Black people from our wonderful suburbs. Housing is just one of the many examples of systemic racism in our country.
Purchasing a home is the American Dream, and is the way many families accumulate wealth to pass down to their children. When I purchased a home, I was able to get a mortgage from a bank. Black people, however, ran up against a government sponsored policy known as redlining, which denied mortgages to people of color. Redlining is one reason that white people have ten times the wealth of Black people, even when you include Oprah Winfrey’s money (Brookings Institute). This wealth disparity is as great as it was before the 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed. Redlining and racist real estate procedures ensured that the majority of Black people would live in segregated neighborhoods, with underfunded school systems, rather than allowing them the choice to move to beautiful Newtown.
There are so many other interrelated examples of systemic racism: Black people face discrimination in job opportunities, education, healthcare, voting, justice. Activities that seem routine to most of us in Newtown, like driving, or jogging, or lying in bed in our own home, can put a Black person’s life in danger. Electing a Black president didn’t change that.
Many of us are able to live comfortably and safely in beautiful Newtown, exercising our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Black people should be able to do so, also, if they choose; it’s shameful that our community doesn’t reflect our nation’s wonderful diversity. We have a long way to go before we can pat ourselves on the back for having achieved equality for all. The Black Lives Matter movement is working to get us there.
Great Hill Road, Newtown July 22, 2020