You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Keep Housing Fair.
Since the Supreme Court did the unthinkable two years ago and gutted the Voting Rights Act, social justice advocates can no longer assume decisions on longstanding affirmative laws and policies put to SCOTUS will go their way. Next up on the chopping block to have the enforcement provisions stripped is the Fair Housing Act.
The court heard arguments in January on Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, which challenges a key aspect of the Fair Housing Act known as the "disparate impact.” In a time where increasing attention is being drawn to the long-term impact of redlining and gentrification and cities like Chicago are tearing down housing projects while failing to build the promised “mixed income” buildings, it seems impossible that the Supreme Court would take away this vital tool for fighting discrimination.
Senator Elizabeth Warren explained in a Washington Post op ed that stripping out “disparate impact” would affect more than just those who are directly discriminated against.
"As with the voting rights decision, a decision limiting the scope of the housing laws would ignore the will of Congress and undermine basic principles of racial equality. But there is even more at stake in the fair housing case, because the wrong decision would reduce economic opportunities for working families and raise the risk of another financial crisis.”
As this is an issue of racial justice and economic justice, many organizations and elected officials have spoken out over the past few months. The National Fair Housing Alliance and other social justice groups created a hashtag — #KeepHousingFair — to spearhead an awareness campaign with events, speeches, shareable graphics and more. You can follow the latest via their Twitter and Facebook feeds. As always, proactively letting your representatives know that fair access to housing matters to you through ContactingTheCongress.org is a valuable action should the court make an unfortunate ruling.
Also, a reminder for Chicago listeners: your current mayor has been no champion of fair housing, mainly continuing the broken promises policies of the Daley dynasty. Rahm Emanuel is facing Jesus "Chuy” Garcia April 4th in a runoff election. You can find your polling place at ChicagoElections.Com.
Fair housing needs to be on the radar ahead of the 2016 primaries. ProPublica writer Nikole Hannah-Jones has a series of articles as well as a book — a $1.99 Kindle download — "Living Apart: How the Government Betrayed a Landmark Civil Rights Law” that’s a must read for anyone who wants more of the history on unfair housing practices in the U.S. so that they’re prepared to be part of the effort to ensure it’s a an issue next year. The thought of such a long election season may be exhausting, but with republicans already announcing, it’s never too early to raise public consciousness on vital issues that should be part of debates, platforms and campaigns.
CHICAGO VOTERS: the mayoral runoff election is APRIL 7. Rahm has continued harmful Daley policies, so Find Your Polling Place
READ: "Living Apart: How the Government Betrayed a Landmark Civil Rights Law” — a $1.99 Kindle Single by Nikole Hannah-Jones
"Housing Discrimination, Gentrification and Black Lives: We Call These Projects Home” by Monique "Mo” George at The Huffington Post
"After SCOTUS Gutted Voting Rights Act, Is Fair Housing Act Next?" by Jon Queally at Common Dreams
"African-American vote could be key to Chicago mayoral election” by Rick Pearson, Cynthia Dizikes and Juan Perez Jr. at The Chicago Tribune
Hear the segment in context:
Episode #908 "Unfair housing, unfair society (Racism)"
Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich