Reddit Reddit reviews The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America

We found 29 Reddit comments about The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America. Here are the top ones, ranked by their Reddit score.

United States History
American History
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America
Richard Rothstein, a leading authority on housing policy, explodes the myth that America’s cities came to be racially divided through de facto segregation; it was actually de jure segregation.
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29 Reddit comments about The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America:

u/ClassicTraffic · 29 pointsr/urbanplanning

i didn't know this until i read The Color of Law, but back in the early 20th century the popularity of personal automobiles skyrocketed to such a size that cities simply weren't able to keep up with the congestion they caused. the number of people who owned cars essentially doubled every year for a while and traffic was a plague. it's one of the reasons why cities embraced the idea of widening roads and eventually building highways so much in the first place, even back then they thought doing so would solve congestion

u/cyberphlash · 22 pointsr/kansascity

> Still wondering why anyone really cares where people choose to live.

Actually, where people live is one of the biggest drivers of life outcomes. If you're born in KCK instead of Leawood - your probable life outcomes is much worse.

At one time, segregation was official city/state/fed policy, which subsidized the development of all-white suburbs (like Prairie Village was one of the first) and movement of people from urban areas to the suburbs - aka 'white flight'. Today, we're still living with white flight. If there were a middle to upper income suburb of Kansas City that were 88% black, do you think many white people would choose to move there? Me neither.

Check out Richard Rothstein's book "The Color of Law", or his lectures on YouTube. Great history and info about the relationship between housing segregation and life outcomes in the US.

As the Vox illustrates, segregation is still going on today (it's actually getting worse) due to policies like zoning laws and drive to prevent low-income housing and apartment complexes from being improved in middle-upper income cities, resulting in low income minorities living in a small number of areas in the metro (as illustrated by the original Vox piece map).

u/phragmosis · 20 pointsr/Economics

This is completely wrong. The consequences were intended. FHA loans were first set up so that African Americans could not buy them. Then mortgage insurers drew maps that labeled AA neighborhoods and neighborhoods close to AA neighborhoods uninsurable. The government adopted those maps in its own regulations and so redlining continued to be an issue through the 70s. We still had segregated public housing through the early 80s. 3 of the 9 supreme court justices ruling on restrictive covenants banning sale to minorities had to recuse themselves because their mortgages had those covenants. The issue was never social engineering's unintended consequences, it was always the intended consequence of discrimination. It's taken decades to make any headway in remediating the problems that our earliest attempts at regulating homeownership have caused. The problem was never that the government guaranteed loans to people who couldn't afford them, there's a system in place to prevent default on FHA loans, the problem was that we withheld homeownership from minorities for decades.

African Americans earn 60 percent of the wages White Americans do, and yet they have less than 10 percent of the total wealth that White Americans do. That's because our system of homeownership has systemically discriminated against them for almost 100 years. Don't believe it? read this book. Too lazy for that? Listen to this interview. Don't have the time for either? Then don't comment on threads about race and housing.

I'm sorry, but yours is a very disingenuous take. Not only do you get the facts wrong about this article and the history which is its context, but you also get the basic premise of government backed mortgages wrong too. Also, the one-two punch of "poor minorities" is either ignorant or bigoted take your pick. The government guarantees loans to plenty of poor people, regardless of their race, and the idea that it sets them up to fail is almost Breitbartesque.

u/ThatSpencerGuy · 19 pointsr/changemyview

> A) what should I call the group of people that split off from other lineages up to 200000 years ago? A subspecies? A clade? Race is the colloquial, and it works well to describe what I mean. There is pretty clear evidence the different 'races' split off at a specific time in the past and evolved to suit different evolutionary pressures.

"Race" is a fine word to describe what you're talking about. But my point is that what we are all talking about is a human invention. There is a lot of genetic variation in humans. We can create groups based on things like skin and hair color. Or we might decide that there are other characteristics around which we would like to group people, like height and hand size.

I understand what you are getting at. Of course it's possible that traits like intelligence are somehow genetically linked to traits for dark skin and woolly hair. But we haven't found such genes. And it strikes me as very unlikely that any association, if it did exist, would be meaningful in size.

> Jews were literally raped, murdered, pillaged, and exiled from various european countries for over a millenia. They are now the most successful group on the planet. Reconcile their history, along with asian's treatment in America and their current condition

The oppression experienced by Jewish and Asian Americans is neither as large nor as recent. Less than a generation ago, government policy explicitly prevented black Americans from buying housing and generating the wealth that white Americans of your parents' and grandparents' generations built in the period after World War II, relegating them to ghettos.

Asian and Jewish Americans of course experienced discrimination, and continue to experience it in specific instances. These groups lived in ethnic enclaves for the first generation or so after immigration (as immigrants tend to do). But they have not experienced the legally enforced segregation that Black Americans have throughout our entire history and into our very recent past.

u/syntiro · 19 pointsr/politics

I was with you until your last paragraph. While slavery and racism in the U.S. were deeply intertwined, it's important to make the distinction that being anti-slavery does not imply being anti-racism, especially up until the Civil Rights Movement.

Often, abolitionists weren't advocating for the end of slavery out of a love or respect for black enslaved workers. They were arguing from a moral, theoretical standpoint of the concept of owning other people as being reprehensible. Which it is - but then if you go around and treat black people as inferiors - you're still racist, just a racist who doesn't like slavery. For one example of this, check out this essay on Walt Whitman - prime example of a Northern abolitionist who held some decidedly racist views. He was by no means the only example.

My point in saying this is that it does little good to split the nation between north and south when it comes to prevalence of racism. It's going to be difficult to quantify how racist a geographic region is. But even when you take even the most cursory glance at various metrics, you'll find that racism is not isolated to the South.

If you look for racism in the South 100 times, you'll find it 100 times. If you look for the same examples of racism in the North, or out West, or anywhere else in the country, guess what - you'll find it 100 times.

It is disingenuous to say that the South bears the only, or even largest, burden of racism in the history of the U.S. That holds true even "to this damn day". You can definitely remove Democrat and Republican from the equation. But you also must remove South or North or East or West from the equation. No region, no state, no city in this country is free from countless examples of racism. Everywhere is guilty of it.

We need to be realistic and honest about the problems we have. It doesn't matter which region is more racist (if you could ever even determine that). We need to realize that while the South has a history of racism, that history extends to the North and the rest of this country just as much. Overlooking that is a surefire way to make sure all of our racist policies and institutions never change.

u/stadiumseating · 16 pointsr/memphis

I hear what you're saying. Memphis is in desperate need of redevelopment, revitalization, an increased tax base, more jobs, greater density, increased walkability/bikeability/livability, less violent crime, etc. All of the good things that come along with gentrification are things we really need. But we have to consider the bad along with the good (warning: wall of text incoming).

I think the big reason why people are so concerned about the negative aspects of gentrification has to do with the fact that the displacement of the black community is, in effect (if not by design although that is debatable), a continuation of the unequal and unjust housing discrimination that has existed in this country for generations.

Ghettos didn't happen by accident. They are a byproduct of explicit racial discrimination at the federal (and, in the case of Memphis, also presumably the local) level.

In the mid-20th century, the federal government actively encouraged and subsidized suburbanization. The FHA, the federal agency tasked with overseeing this policy, required that the developers who received these government subsidies sell the new properties only to white people and institute racially discriminatory restrictive covenants that would prevent them from being sold to any non-whites moving forward. Black veterans following WWII were excluded from applying their GI Bill benefits to buying homes in these areas.

By the time these practices ended, the deed had been done. White suburban subdivisions/municipalities had been created, the values of the homes had increased significantly from the prices they had initially been sold for, and they were by and large prohibitively expensive to black people (who needless to say were also subject to economic discrimination). Not to mention the fact that they weren't exactly the most welcoming places on Earth for the middle-class black families who could have afforded to live there by the time they were legally able to do so.

The end result of these policies had a massive impact on racial disparities in wealth, as the working-class white families who bought government-subsidized homes with government-subsidized mortgages were able to accrue enormous gains in equity while black people (many of whom could have afforded these homes had they not been precluded from buying them at the outset) realized none of those gains, as the areas of town they were forced to live in were effectively abandoned by the rest of society. If you are not familiar with the history of housing discrimination in this country, I recommend listening to this recent episode of Fresh Air and following up with the book the episode is based on.

So, bringing this full circle, if we sit on our hands as the black community is displaced in gentrifying areas around Memphis, then we are complicit in perpetuating unjust racial disparities in housing for the next generation. How would you feel if your family had been forced to live in a shitty part of town by means of discrimination, and then as soon as that area became vibrant and livable again you were forced out by economic forces? You'd be fucking outraged, and rightfully so.

The good news is that displacement is not an inevitable byproduct of redevelopment. The mechanisms by which displacement occur are rising rents and increased property tax liabilities, which are issues that can be remedied by public policy (namely upzoning and property tax abatement for incumbent property owners).

But if redevelopment is going to occur in a just fashion, we're going to have to give real consideration to preventing the negative aspects of gentrification and stop focusing on whether the upper-middle class white people of Lea's Woods might have to, GASP, park their second car around the corner from their house as Binghampton urbanizes (for example).

tl;dr Memphis needs redevelopment but sitting back and allowing the black community to be displaced in gentrifying areas would be to perpetuate a long history of unjust housing discrimination. The good news is that it isn't inevitable.

u/Adito99 · 15 pointsr/politics

This is an excellent summary. White Americans got success by making sure the lowest rungs of the economic ladder were full of black people. It was done intentionally with laws and descrimination at all levels of society, city, state and federal.

u/o_safadinho · 13 pointsr/Blackfellas

I'm not sure about the other guys but I'll answer your question?


Did you vote in the 2016 elections?

I have voted in every federal election since I turned 18. That includes the 2016 election when I was living outside of the country.


Who did you vote for in the Democratic primary?

While I was able to find out how to vote in the general election from overseas, I was never able to figure out how to vote in the primary while living overseas, so I skipped voting in the primary.


Who did you vote for in the 2016 presidential election?

I voted for Hillary, though to be honest I'm not a fan of her. I thought voting for her would be better than voting for Trump or skipping the election. The state that I'm registered in, Florida, is a big state and a swing state. It ended up going to Trump anyway.


What exactly do you feel is negative against Black Americans and what policies are you looking for to rectify that?


For me, the biggest thing is the racial wealth gap. The following quote is taken from [a paper that was released by the Boston Fed](


\> Nonwhite households have only a fraction of the net worth attributed to white households. While white households have a median wealth of $247,500, Dominicans and U.S. blacks have a median wealth of close to zero.


By comparison, West Indian immigrants in Boston had median total assets that were more than 17 times that Black Americans and median net worth that was about 1,500 times that Black Americans! No that is not a typo. When you compare the median net worth of an ADOS family in Boston to a white family in Boston, the white family has almost 31,000 times more wealth.


Those types of numbers don't happen by accident. To understand how they happened, you have to look at history. While there are a number of books, such as [The Color of Law]( that go into detail about this history, [this]( working paper from the Chicago Fed sums it up perfectly in one sentence:


\> In total, our results provide strongly suggestive evidence that the HOLC maps had a causal and lasting effect on the development of urban neighborhoods through credit access.


And what little wealth Black Americans have is projected to fall to 0 by 2053!


The reasons behind the poverty of African Americans was caused by government policies that were abolished before most black immigrants moved to this country!


Before the passage of the [Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965]( Africans weren't allowed to immigrate the US, and West Indians were only here in small numbers. The ones who were here assimilated into ADOS neighborhoods and families.


You can say that countries like Jamaica and Senegal or where ever are also poor, and while you may be correct, that has nothing to do with me. That is a grievance that should be taken up with the British or the French.


I personally see noting wrong in acknowledging that we as a people, though connected, have different histories.


When Obama says things like we can't do reparations because [immigrants would get offended]( I think, then they can just stay where they are.


Also, I really don't care about immigration reform. And this is coming from a guy that is married to a latina immigrant. Our people have been here for 400 years, why should I care about immigration reform? That does nothing for me or my community.


Now, I have nothing against immigrants. I speak three languages, have been to multiple countries, have lived abroad and am married to an immigrant. Honestly, my mother's family was relatively wealthy for a black family in the South during Jim Crowe. My grandfather left 5 properties for my mom and my aunt to split when he passed. However, I see no reason to put the needs of foreigners ahead of the needs of my own people, even if those foreigners are black.


I really don't care if the government does something to fix immigration if they do it after addressing the wealth gap here first.

u/chasonreddit · 9 pointsr/Classical_Liberals

Highly recommended book The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America

Rothstein goes back to the 1920s to trace the various methods government, and mostly federal government, used to create and maintain segregation.

I have to agree. Although many were privately in favor of segregation they required the law to hold it up. Even gentlemen's agreement deed restrictions were subject to block busting.

u/GetRichOrDieTrolling · 7 pointsr/samharris

It is a very complex issue, and certainly on the poorer end of the spectrum housing policy, especially pernicious starting in the New Deal era from the Federal level which was deliberately racist and codified segregation, still accounts for much of the racial segregation in the country today (see The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein for a very good analysis).

But what is interesting about the wealthier end of the spectrum is that many middle class black families are choosing to live below their means in majority-black suburbs rather than be a minority in the common majority-white suburbs. This is a really interesting paper about the issue. While there are several factors, including discrimination, a major factor is that many black families prefer not being a minority in their own neighborhoods even if it comes at the costs of de facto segregation.

It just is not as simple as people like Klein want it to be. Klein's point is definitely not the slam-dunk he thinks it is. First, his talking point is based on statistics specific to a few large urban areas. It is not representative of the country as a whole and shouldn't be framed that way as Klein did in the podcast. It is much more complicated than simply looking at New York, LA, and Chicago and the average income of neighborhoods to determine the relative quality of social services, schools, etc.

u/GhettoCode · 7 pointsr/Austin

"...considering how old it is"? You don't need to go back all that far to find a time when restrictive covenents were still stipulated and enforced. If you'd like a pretty in-depth treatment of the subject, check out the book, The Color of Law.

u/CapitalismAndFreedom · 5 pointsr/neoliberal

highly recommended book.

edit ok the free market decided

u/bout_that_action · 5 pointsr/WayOfTheBern

> Re the comments on this tweet: Does Bernie get reparations for the fact that his father came to the US without a cent to his name because his relatives were destined to be slaughtered by the Nazis?

Why would the U.S. be responsible for restitution? Or is this yet another demonstration of your willing, abject ignorance and deliberate blindness with respect to the documented facts and nuance associated with this issue?

To this day, Jewish families in Germany that survived the Holocaust are receiving reparations. And it looks like others may not be done collecting yet:

Poles look to charge Germans $850 billion to mark 80 years since Nazi invasion

>A Polish lawmaker said Friday that a committee examining potential German reparations to Poland hoped to complete its report by September 1, the 80th anniversary of the Nazi invasion, and would likely demand up to $850 billion for the damage inflicted during World War II.

It's interesting to see which groups can push for (and have been successful at obtaining) reparations without catching predictable, often nonsensical flak/closed-minded idiocy that obscures discussion on the merits and who cannot.

Some are even offered an extra boost! Like Joe Biden proposing $30 million for Holocaust survivors in 2013. Forget the American citizens whose lives were continually destroyed for centuries and their descendants' futures harmed with the help of the U.S. government, let's try to take on the moral obligations of other countries first!

Slavery, Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration, The War on Drugs, Redlining, race rioting targeting black businesses, VA home loans that shut out Black WW2 vets, etc. are extremely consequential uncompensated crimes. As late as the 1960s, blacks were still separated in public and prisons from most all other races. Just blacks. Not latino, not Jewish, not Irish. Just black! Not even a lifetime ago. If your sense of justice leads you to believe no form of compensation should ever be provided, or even explored, and that a large percentage of black Americans should just shut their faces after absorbing the enormity of the generational injury visited upon them (starkly illustrated by the racial wealth gap, imprisonment statistics, etc.), that's completely on you.

Just don't be surprised when others make inroads with affected populations who know full well just how thoroughly they've been fucked with for hundreds of years (regardless of how effectively this dark history has been suppressed).

>"Tepid solutions are not enough for the times in which we live; we need huge, strategized acts of righteousness, now. Just as Germany has paid $89 Billion in reparations to Jewish organizations since WW2, the United States should pay reparations for slavery." [email protected]


Cornel West gets it, why don't you:

> MH: And that’s to do with the man himself. You’re endorsing him as a person, as your brother. In terms of policies, is there a particular policy that you think is crucial to his campaign that makes him stand out from the rest?
CW: No, the policies have to do — policies against militarism, policies against poverty, the critiques of Wall Street, the consistency of his call for Democratic accountability of corporate elites and financial elites and basically the greed that we see among so many of those elites. And the same is true about racism. I want to hit this issue head-on because there’s been some talk about reparations and it’s true. I’ve supported reparations. I’ve been struggling for reparations for over 40 years, but I don’t see an endorsement of reparations as the only precondition of fighting against white supremacy. There’s no doubt that his policies will benefit poor and working people and poor and working black people and brown people more than any other candidate. And so, yes, when it comes to just reparations as a whole and larger dialogue certainly, I’m for it, but I hope that a lot of black folk don’t get confused and sit back on this issue of reparations.
> MH: You think you can get him to move on reparations? Because he was asked on ABC’s The View about whether he backed it and he said well, you know, we’ve got crises in our communities and there’s other better ways to address that than by “just writing out a check.” A lot of people criticized him for that as you say, do you think he can move on that like he’s moved on other issues? That people like you persuade him to a different position?
> CW: No doubt about that, but the core is ensuring that there’s fundamental transformation in the racist system under which we live so that the lives of black and brown and yellow peoples are much better. And so, that’s the real issue. And so, it seems to me I don’t want reparations to be an issue that gets us away from him taking a stand on those issues so much better than any other of the other candidates.
> MH: So you say he takes a takes a better position on those issues than other candidates.
> CW: Oh, no doubt about it.
> MH: A lot of those liberal critics, as you know, have said for a long time, especially in recent days that he’s not good on race issues. They say he has a blind spot when it comes to race both in terms of his rhetoric, in terms of the people he surrounded himself with in the past. What do you say to those liberal critics as someone who has been writing and thinking about race and racism your whole life and yet is a Bernie supporter?
> CW: Well, one, it’s a matter of his heart. He’s an anti-racist in his heart. Two, he’s old-school. He’s like me. He doesn’t know the buzzwords. He doesn’t endorse reparations, one moment in the last 30 years, silent on it. He has the consistency over the years decade after decade and therefore it’s true in his language, in his rhetoric. There are times in which he doesn’t, he doesn’t say the right thing. He doesn’t use the same kind of buzzwords. But when it comes to his fight against racism, going to jail in Chicago as a younger brother and he would go to jail again. He and I would go to jail together again in terms of fighting against police brutality. So in that sense, I would just tell my brothers and sisters, but especially my chocolate ones that they shouldn’t be blinded by certain kinds of words they’re looking for, that in the end, he is a long distance runner in the struggle against white supremacy.


Even Trevor Noah, owned by the PTB and regardless of the motivations, gets it and sums it up concisely:


And one of the many great posters here, /u/jlalbrecht, eventually saw the light:

>Note I should have had a h/t regarding my reparations stance to both /u/ikissthisguy
and my wife.


>cheers. Credit where it is due. You helped me see the issue from outside my personal experience, similar to how Killer Mike changed my opinion about US gun control.

Bolding mine. Try it sometime.

u/moto123456789 · 4 pointsr/left_urbanism

>“Terrified by the 1917 Russian revolution, government officials came to believe that communism could be defeated in the United States by getting as many white Americans as possible to become homeowners—the idea being that those who owned property would be invested in the capitalist system. So in 1918 the Department of Labor promoted an “Own-Your-Own-Home” campaign, handing out “We Own Our Own Home” buttons to schoolchildren and distributing pamphlets saying that it was a ‘patriotic duty’ to cease renting and to build a single-family unit.”

From The Color of Law

u/PissOnEddieShore · 3 pointsr/LosAngeles

[This guy is correct folks. Read this book if you don't believe him.] (

u/todareistobmore · 3 pointsr/baltimore

> please read a book (like Spirit Level)

please read a book like

Your arguments are ahistorical. I don't know if that's because you're not from the US or not aware of the economic history of 20th century racism here. But at a certain point it's less that you don't know than that you refuse to, and if you're not over that line you're certainly flirting with it.

u/dionidium · 3 pointsr/StLouis

Some people absolutely left for racist reasons, but others were responding to strong incentives, and even non-racists were right in recognizing that property values were falling in demographically changing neighborhoods.

The other, sometimes overlooked factor that explains a lot of that map are the institutions that encoded segregation into wide areas of the law. The book to read about that is The Color of Law.

u/queen_content · 3 pointsr/LosAngeles

If you really want to learn why people disagree with you, I recommend you read this book: The Color of Law. Brown folks (and many white folks too, who weren't 'anglo' enough) were systemically excluded from homeownership during the post-WWII boom.

u/An_Image_Of_Mohammed · 2 pointsr/pics

Thank you for your reply.

Sensing that you are level headed and fair minded, I'd like to recommend a book for you to read. Maybe glance at the pages available on Amazon and see if you'd be interested...

The Color of Law..... by Richard Rothstein

u/mantrap2 · 2 pointsr/urbanplanning

For America, you definitely need to read "Color of Law". And it should be mandatory reading by Blue City residents and planners because most of the most racist systems like zoning and red-lining started in Blue Cities. Zoning is straight out of San Francisco and intended to limit, displace and steal the real estate of Chinese-Americans! It's a matter of public record! And yet zoning and very similar types of arbitrary and capricious planning is still practiced today.

Having been raised in the SF Bay Area, this doesn't surprise me because "Blue" value people are usually the most racist people I've met. They think they aren't but if you listen to their words and watch their deeds (e.g. the NIMBYism that has caused the current housing crisis in the SF Bay Area), you see it's primarily about racism, sometimes hidden by classicism, which is hidden by "preserving the community norms/feel".

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u/Travis_Williamson · 1 pointr/NewOrleans

>Any "segregation" which does exist is entirely self-imposed by people choosing of their own free will to live in certain neighborhoods which are populated by people who match their own ethnicity or socio-economic class

"There’s this idea that people self-segregate, but the reality is that there’s never really been self-segregation in Milwaukee"

Segregation was literally the law of the land for 400 entire goddamn years. Not to mention Milwaukee was littered with sundown towns that helped create the racial landscape. If you think Milwaukee's racial demographics are just some happy accident, then you REALLY need to educate yourself, because there's no excuse for being this ignorant in 2019. If you haven't read The Color of Law or Sundown Towns (which very obviously you haven't) then don't bother responding.

u/XModz017 · 1 pointr/Economics

In addition to the comment above, check out the book Color of Law

u/ndw_dc · 0 pointsr/kansascity

You also fail at basic reading comprehension. I said that you cannot explicitly zone by race. (Zoning did originate, however, based explicitly on race.)

But you can get 90% of the same effect by zoning out poor people by banning housing types that poor people can afford.

Here is basically an entire book on the subject, if you would like to go down the rabbit hole.


u/lebii · 0 pointsr/Austin

Can there be just one single day where I don't have to read ignorant white fuckery? Since you obviously don't read books or know how Austin works, I'll tell you.

Nobody let their neighborhood "go to shit". Blacks literally were not allowed to buy housing except for redlined areas. White housing was subsidized via the GI Bill (which Blacks were not eligible for), and low/zero down payment FHA loans. Neither the FHA or VA would back loans for blacks in general or in any redlined area. (Almost the entire Crestview/Rosedale/Allandale neighborhoods were built for returning GI's, which essentially built the white middle class.) Blacks could only buy in areas where private lenders made loans at higher interest rates and bigger down payments which caused defaults and created a renter class, especially since many cities had more black residents than available redline zoned property.

Whites would buy property in the redlined areas and let the properties go to shit. Blacks couldn't bring suit against whites and white attorneys wouldn't represent blacks in court so there was no recourse. Then cities used zoning laws to zone all of the failure in black neighborhoods, e.g. liquor stores, the goddamn east side landfill, etc. This was literally the law and happened in virtually every city in the country.

Flash forward until today. Some blacks were able to own their homes and get decent terms starting in the 70's. Now some of these people have paid off their mortgages but now have to compete with millennials with Mommy and Daddy's money they got from their subsidized housing that has now appreciated. Then they have to deal with racist white attitudes like "don't let your neighborhood go to shit" and entitled whites acting like they are doing everyone a favor by forcing longtime residents out. Sometimes people don't want to cash out, they want to keep the asset to pass to their heirs like whites were able to.