Growing up in Apartheid South Africa, it feels second nature to see the direct link between policies and practices of the past and the enduring poverty and inequality in the country. Twenty years after our first democratic elections there are still massive discrepancies in education, housing, healthcare and social care.
Somehow we were lead to believe that matters were different in the United States, that anyone can make it if they try, but that all changed in August.
Link: How a century of racist policies made Ferguson into a pocket of concentrated despair [Raw Story, 28 October 2014]
In an interview with Richard Rothstein, author of a study "The Making of Ferguson", the article discusses how policies of the past created the situation in Ferguson and how unequal treatment of blacks and whites created an enduring cycle of despair that will take generations to overcome. The article mentions the myth of upward mobility in America and how this simply doesn't apply in the face of unscrupulous real estate practices, discriminatory housing policies and the creation of ghettos and slums.
"The federal government subsidized the construction of many, many subdivisions by requiring that bank loans for the builders be made on the condition that no homes be sold to blacks"
"So after a century of policies which denied African-Americans access to jobs that pay decent wages, the likelihood is that their children and their children’s children will still be paying the price for those policies that held their parents and grandparents behind for so long".
Photo credit: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Caption: Demonstrator Keisha Gray cries while protesting the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 13, 2014.