Institutionalized racism after World War II

Earlier this week on Tumblr, I saw a fantastic metaphorical quote about America's history of institutionalized racism: "If your ancestors cut down all the trees, it’s not your fault, but you still don’t live in a forest." (Sociology professor Pam Oliver.)  Today, on Reddit via DepthHub, I read a comment about a specific example of institutionalized racism I didn't know about:  Apparently, all those great benefits of the GI bill after World War II were only given to the white soldiers.

See after the end of World War II, American G.I.s came home to the Bill - they got access to subsidized loans for houses in the suburbs, and access to college educations. Provided they were white. Colored G.I.s didn't get these benefits. They were, for the most part, shunted aside into menial job training programs or denied benefits altogether. But let's stick with housing.


  1. Firstly, ethnic neighborhood divisions aren't "natural" in America. They aren't the result of people organically choosing to live next to those who look like them. Racial segregation in America's neighborhoods is the result of a process that discriminated against minorities. The reason minorities tend to live in certain areas is because they had nowhere else to go. This discrimination was designed to create a poor urban underclass of menial workers. Back then, minorities weren't seen as capable of doing much more than thoughtless, thankless jobs. This wasn't malice - governments felt like they were being actually helpful.
  2. Secondly it blows away the myth that the white middle class got their by the strength of their own bootstrapping. There was an incredible amount of government help that went to white Americans. This kind of affirmative action/government help went only to whites for decades. There have always been poor white folks in America and these New Deal and post-New Deal programs were actually designed with them in mind. But when these same programs are extended to minorities, America has a collective crisis of conscience about government handouts and starts wringing her hands about white poverty.

(Emphasis from the original comment)

The whole comment is awesome, and there are citations and additional reading at the bottom.

Cool political maps

(via io9) Buzzfeed has a really cool set of maps that shows how this election would have broken down if the circumstances of various past points in American history had limited the voting populace (only white people, only men, etc.)  Here's one of them, how the election would have gone if only men (regardless of race) had been allowed to vote.

Check out the rest here.

What the hell, Mississippi

(via ThinkProgress) I'm glad that there's news coming out of Mississippi, because it's one of like five states whose names I can spell correctly the first time.  (Connecticut has 3 C's in it.  Seriously.)  I am not, however, at all happy about what the news is.

Mississippi schools are sending students -- mostly who are black or disabled -- to prison. These kids aren't selling heroin or stealing chemicals from the science classroom.  It's not even stuff like getting in fights.  ABC News writes:

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has released investigative findings determining that children in predominantly black Meridian, Miss. have had their constitutional rights violated by the Lauderdale County Youth Court, the Meridian Police Department, and the Mississippi Division of Youth Services in what civil rights investigators allege is a school to prison pipeline with even dress code violations resulting in incarceration.


“The system established by the City of Meridian, Lauderdale County, and DYS to incarcerate children for school suspensions ‘shocks the conscience,’ resulting in the incarceration of children for alleged ‘offenses’ such as dress code violations, flatulence, profanity, and disrespect.” The Justice Department findings letter noted.

The worst part is, this isn't a new thing.  The ACLU has a name for it -- it's called "The school-to-prison pipeline," and they say it's a national trend.

"Zero-tolerance" policies criminalize minor infractions of school rules, while high-stakes testing programs encourage educators to push out low-performing students to improve their schools' overall test scores. Students of color are especially vulnerable to push-out trends and the discriminatory application of discipline.

At about 1% of the population, America has the highest rate of incarceration in the world.  Imprisoned Americans are about a quarter of the imprisoned people on Earth -- and some of them are kids, in jail for breaking the dress code.

So, y'know, Live Free or Die and stuff.