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EXCLUSIVE: Camille Cosby Speaks to the Black Press About Hate Groups, Racism, History and Voting Rights

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Following the murder of her only son, Ennis Cosby, more than 20 years ago in Los Angeles, Mrs. Cosby wrote an essay in which she spoke fiercely about America’s hate and racism. She blamed America for teaching her son’s killer, Mikail Markhasev, to hate black people because of the various and pervasive forms of racism in our society.

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“All African Americans, regardless of their educational and economic accomplishments, have been — and are — at risk in America, simply because of their skin color,” Camille Cosby said.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Racism and prejudice are omnipresent and internalized within America’s institutions, media and myriad entities. One example can be traced to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, according to Camille Cosby, wife of imprisoned Bill Cosby.

While her husband languishes in a Pennsylvania prison, Mrs. Cosby said it’s important to keep his case at the forefront of the public’s awareness because of the injustice done. She also wanted to remind Black America of the importance of the Voting Rights Act that she long ago predicted would be dialed back by politicians who sought to deprive African Americans of their so-called inalienable right to vote. And, in an editorial she wrote exclusive for Black Press USA prior to the 2018 midterm elections, she urged African Americans to vote for justice, equality and democracy.

“The American people have been dangerously close to being governed by a dictatorship… intent on serving its own greedy interests even, when it results in eradicating the laws that protect humanity,” Mrs. Cosby said.

“Many of today’s politicians…especially those who are heavily financed by particular corporate entities…are becoming increasingly dangerous enemies of our human rights.”

She continued:

“However, history teaches us that we, the People of the United States, can purge this danger from our nation’s political offices. Indeed, President Richard Nixon’s corrupt presidency was finally brought to an end when the people rose up and demanded that their representatives be held accountable. We must do the same today.”

That the Voting Rights Act had even been tampered with is indicative of the society black Americans are faced with, Mrs. Cosby said.

“No other Americans are subjected to this oppressive nonsense,” she said.

For those who might mistakenly believe that Mrs. Cosby is simply speaking out because of her husband’s predicament, she easily and understandably scoffs at such a notion.

After all, she and Mr. Cosby have donated more than $200 million to Historically Black Colleges and Universities as well as dozens of integrated schools – most of whom have rescinded honorary degrees to Bill Cosby but hadn’t returned the millions of dollars the family has donated.

The Cosbys have also loaned their extensive African art collections to museums and other institutions of higher learning.

Following the murder of her only son, Ennis Cosby, more than 20 years ago in Los Angeles, Mrs. Cosby wrote an essay in which she spoke fiercely about America’s hate and racism. She blamed America for teaching Mikail Markhasev, her son’s killer, to hate black people because of the various and pervasive forms of racism in our society.

“I believe America taught our son’s killer to hate African Americans. After Mikail Markhasev killed Ennis on Jan. 16 1997, he said to friends, I shot a nigger. It’s all over the news,” Mrs. Cosby wrote

Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint, an expert on race relations and family friend of the Cosbys told CBS News after the essay was published that Mrs. Cosby felt the media had played down the racial aspect of the case.

“This young man didn’t like black people. He used the word nigger” Poussaint said. “I think that this was played down so much that Camille felt the need to present this to the American public.”

Poussaint noted that the crime had been called a “botched robbery,” but that Markhasev had shot Cosby in the head and did not take his cash, watch or car. “I think there’s reason to believe he shot Ennis Cosby because Ennis Cosby was a black man,” Poussaint said.

Camille noted that the killer of her only son probably did not learn to hate black people in his native country, Ukraine. Where, she noted, the black population is near zero.

She added, he was not likely to have seen “America’s intolerable, stereotypical movies and television programs about blacks,” which were not shown in the Soviet Union before the killer and his family moved to America in the late 1980s.

She also wrote about the risk of being black in America.

“All African Americans, regardless of their educational and economic accomplishments, have been — and are — at risk in America, simply because of their skin color.”

Poussaint, a psychology professor at Harvard agreed.

“She’s saying that, as long as you have hate groups that are targeting black people, there’s a risk that they may randomly pick any black person and kill them, “Poussaint said.

Mrs. Cosby writes that propaganda against people of color is evident in the representation of holy figures in Christianity, who have been “recreated in images of whiteness.”

“In some ways, it creates or endorses white supremacist kinds of imagery within religion, which has been a problem for people of color and has been a problem for African Americans.”

In 1997, Mrs. Cosby wrote:

“African-Americans, as well as all Americans, are brainwashed every day to respect and revere slave-owners and people who clearly waffled about race. In truth, the enslavement of millions of Africans immeasurably enriched the treasuries of America’s government and individuals.

“Interestingly, several slave-owners’ images are on America’s paper currencies: George Washington ($1), Thomas Jefferson ($2), Alexander Hamilton ($10), Andrew Jackson ($20), Ulysses Grant ($50) and Benjamin Franklin ($100).

“Grant was the last U.S. president to own slaves. Even Abraham Lincoln ($5) said, ‘I do not stand pledged to the prohibition of the slave trade between the states… I, as much as any man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the White race.’

“America’s educational institutions’ dictionaries define ‘black’ as ‘harmful; hostile; disgrace; unpleasant aspects of life,’” Mrs. Cosby said.

Meanwhile, she said, “White” is described as “decent; honorable; auspicious; without malice.”

“A medical school at the University of Texas in Galveston conducted a controversial study primarily on black babies from 1956 to 1962. The researchers withheld an essential fatty acid from the babies’ formulas that humans need for the growth of the whole body and nervous system,” Mrs. Cosby said.

“Those black babies were used as laboratory animals, and several of the infants died during the course of the study. Previously, this research had been done on dogs. This is just one of several unethical medical studies on African-Americans that has been documented.”

In 2018, Mrs. Cosby says:

“Our ancestors fought for the right to [vote]. They were jailed, were beaten, were killed for fighting for our right to vote. Yet, too often, we do not exercise that most important right. We overlook the mid-term elections because we forget how greatly they can impact our lives.

“But, as I learned from [Montgomery County District Attorney] Kevin Steele’s election in 2015, a corrupt politician at any level is a danger to the American people, and even more so when that politician has promised to act in service of his own toxic ambitions and racial hatred.”

A Little About Me: I'm the co-author of Blind Faith: The Miraculous Journey of Lula Hardaway and her son, Stevie Wonder (Simon & Schuster) and Michael Jackson: The Man Behind The Mask, An Insider's Account of the King of Pop (Select Books Publishing, Inc.) My work can often be found in the Washington Informer, Baltimore Times, Philadelphia Tribune, Pocono Record, the New York Post, and Black Press USA.

Chicago Crusader

The Servicemember’s Freedom Quest

CHICAGO CRUSADER — It’s the week of Independence Day and as we celebrate, let us not forget the actual meaning of what is assumed to be an annual affair. It’s the day when American’s cheer one another for past accomplishments of overcoming oppression, exceeding limitations and having a strong will to express ourselves. Today, I’d like to throw out a raft for another consideration — the pursuit of freedom, living life without dictation, judgment, and intrusion for those who fought for our country. Service members have participated in wars, protected borders and guarded the seas to ensure that trespassers wouldn’t step over the physical boundaries of freedom and ignore our desires to live out loud. But along the way, service members have also forgotten to believe that they too are recipients of that freedom.

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By Wanda “Sistah Soldier” Petty, President & CEO,

It’s the week of Independence Day and as we celebrate, let us not forget the actual meaning of what is assumed to be an annual affair. It’s the day when American’s cheer one another for past accomplishments of overcoming oppression, exceeding limitations and having a strong will to express ourselves. Today, I’d like to throw out a raft for another consideration — the pursuit of freedom, living life without dictation, judgment, and intrusion for those who fought for our country. Service members have participated in wars, protected borders and guarded the seas to ensure that trespassers wouldn’t step over the physical boundaries of freedom and ignore our desires to live out loud. But along the way, service members have also forgotten to believe that they too are recipients of that freedom.

It’s easy to celebrate the idea of something visible and tangible such as a memorial or holiday, and not recognize the unseen internal, suppressed and desired freedom we provided for others until the loaning becomes outwardly evident during the transition. That transition can take years if not intentionally guided by someone who’s experienced similar challenges. This quest for freedom cannot be simply pushed aside and its existence ignored. If so, it will show up in other forms such as depression, confusion, or anger. It’s just energy waiting to be released.

Joining the military was just one way of discovering our truth. Just as many other paths on the journey of life, God used it as an opportunity to develop the skills within our toolbox needed to live out His plans for our future and overall life. It was never meant to become a mantel or burden, and the transition process provides the option to access this newfound freedom from a higher level of awareness. If we enter the civilian sector holding onto the past of what was, it will only hinder us from gaining full access to birth interval visions of success from deep within. In some cases, we don’t even get to know our neighbors because we feel they’re different and won’t understand our journey. It’s time to do better.

Find time to get acquainted with your strengths and abilities, and appreciate your courage. Learn to love the warrior within. Think of the lessons of the ‘Karate Kid’- everything he learned had a purposeful use in his future. Creative Arts can intuitively release emotional bondage and allow one to learn how to loosen up and relax. If we’ve experienced the final out-processing, there is no turning back! It’s only a “forward” march.

There’s a whole new world waiting for you to be yourself. The creative being you were before you entered military service wants to claim its position in the earth. So, why are you waiting? Get out and enjoy the buffet of freedom. You don’t have to wait for someone to give a command before you act on what’s next! The best part about it all is you’re a leader within. From the time you completed basic training and advanced individual training (AIT), your leadership skills became defined. Sure, it may take a while to cross-reference each distinction, but it’s not impossible. Analyze where you can make a genuine effort to connect the dots between military disciplines and use it all for your advantage as a civilian. Develop a plan to help you move forth instead of being confused about who you are without the military. It was only for a season which God used to increase your capacity for living an expansive life.

I promise you things will begin to appear more transparent as you embrace the difference. Use your compelling power and allow yourself the ability to be free! It’s time to spread your wings. You are eagles who fly at high altitudes and nothing less. Thank you for your service and the sacrifice you’ve given for our USA to live a life of freedom. Now, it’s time to pursue your truth and walk in your purpose!

Sistah Soldier is an inspirational activist who helps veterans, women and minorities step into the call of God for their lives. She’s the CEO, Host, and Executive Producer of SHE VET™ iNSPIRES.com Television Show, and the Executive Recruiter for SHE WORKS Digital™.

This article originally appeared in the Chicago Crusader

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Former NNPA Chairman Dorothy Leavell Reflects on the Black Press

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “The chairman has a direct responsibility for their membership and to be speaking for them in every way to make sure that their rights, their names, and all, are brought to the forefront of other publishers that comprise the board, and to develop policies,” Leavell said.

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Former Chairman, Dorothy R. Leavell, publisher of the Chicago and Gary Crusader Newspapers, said she won’t let anything stand in the way of her fighting for the success of the Black Press.
Former Chairman, Dorothy R. Leavell, publisher of the Chicago and Gary Crusader Newspapers, said she won’t let anything stand in the way of her fighting for the success of the Black Press.

Part Two in a series, as the NNPA prepares to Celebrate 80Years as the Voice of Black America

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

“Can I tell you?”To hear those words means one of two things (or both):

It means that Chicago and Gary Crusader Publisher and former National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) Chairman Dorothy R. Leavell, is about to school you on some history, or make a pointed observation.

Either way, it’s advisable that you pay attention. You’re about to learn something.

“Can I tell you, as chairman, and I don’t let them call me chairwoman or chairperson because I think the title should be unisex and I’m going to make it unisex, but when you say chairman, you get that attention,” said Leavell, who won election to chairman in 2017 and served through June 2019.

“The chairman has a direct responsibility for their membership and to be speaking for them in every way to make sure that their rights, their names, and all, are brought to the forefront of other publishers that comprise the board, and to develop policies,” Leavell said.

A custodian and historian of the Black Press, Leavell recalls serving as president of NNPA in 1995, when she served two terms in the position, which preceded the creation of the board chairman role.

“And, can you imagine that some of the issues are very similar to today’s,” Leavell said.

“And some of the issues are quite different. I can remember in 1995, people were having debates about what the Black Press is and that we needed to have panel discussions, which we have today,” she said.

Building bridges became an emphasis for Leavell in the 1990s, including making a connection to Africa.

“I led a delegation to Nigeria and got highly criticized, but I felt that we needed that connection with our homeland that every other ethnic group, nationality, has,” Leavell said.

As chair, Leavell traversed America seeking to heighten awareness of the continued importance of the Black Press.

“I see my responsibility as chairman to always carry the banner for the Black Press. To speak about the Black Press to corporate America and others to help them understand the importance of utilizing the publications of the Black Press to get their message out,” she said.

Recently, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) introduced legislation that would effectively punish federal agencies who fail to include the Black Press in advertising spending.

For decades, the Black Press had to fight for the rights of African Americans and for its own membership in the face of an unfriendly federal government, Leavell said.

“In 1944, they tried to block us from printing the truth about the war and our soldiers and [more recently], they prevented us from having someone report from the White House and so many other things that have been closed off to us and so here we are in 2019 and God bless Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton for her initiative,” Leavell said.

“Can I tell you, we are constantly evolving but I [saw] myself as chairman of the board, as an ambassador and I [was] [there] every day dealing with what’s happening in our newspaper offices, the challenges, and how we continue to do things,” she said.

This year marks Leavell’s 51st as a publisher and she believes she still has more to offer locally in Chicago and nationally for the NNPA.

“Can I just say, when I first became a publisher, I had two children. And I was a widow.

And I had two newspapers,” Leavell said.

“And I had to figure things out,” she said.

One of the things Leavell had to figure out was being a strong woman in a male-dominated industry.

“When I became publisher, it was about five other women who were publishers and most of them were senior citizens because they had inherited their publications similar to me,” she said.

“But I was a young woman … and I remember this constant struggle of never having enough and wondering is this all there is to life for me.”

However, from her past, a voice arrived that would change everything for Leavell.

“He [her former high school principal] came to my newspaper and he said, ‘I’m so proud of you.’ I said, ‘wow,’” Leavell said.

“He said what I was doing was important because people looking for information would not otherwise get it if it weren’t for the newspaper and he said we were speaking up for people who didn’t have anyone to speak up for them,” Leavell said.

Leavell said she won’t let anything stand in the way of her fighting for the success of the Black Press.

She has a story to tell, one she hopes one day to carve out the time to put her life’s experience in a book, and one that will ultimately begin with, “Can I tell you.”

“This is my passion,” Leavell said.

“It is what I am, and it is what I continue to aspire for our industry and for our institutions. And yes, the Black Press is an institution — just like the Black Church,” she said.

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Chicago Crusader

Looking for Civic Education tools and strategies? Register Now for CRFC’s 2019 “More Perfect Union” Summer Institute!

CHICAGO CRUSADER — This professional development institute will help 7th and 8th-grade teachers deepen and reinforce their students’ knowledge of our system of government, preparing them for the U.S. Constitution Test.

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Photo by: Santi Vedrí | Unsplash

By The Chicago Crusader

Prepare Your Students for  the U.S. Constitution Test

July 25-26, 2019
9 am – 3 pm
Schiff Hardin LLP
233 S. Wacker Drive Suite 7100

This professional development institute will help 7th and 8th-grade teachers deepen and reinforce their students’ knowledge of our system of government, preparing them for the U.S. Constitution Test.

Teachers will learn how to implement the More Perfect Union curriculum, which provides dynamic lessons and strategies that will show students how the Constitution applies to their lives and help them gain the skills and attitudes necessary to become active and engaged citizens. The curriculum, which connects to both CRFC’s Edward J. Lewis II Lawyers In the Classroom and the Action-Based Communities (ABC) Project programs, contains extended response questions and a bank of alternative assessments.

Teachers who attend the 2-day More Perfect Union Summer Institute will be eligible to receive an attorney partner as part of the Edward J. Lewis II Lawyers in the Classroom Program.

Featured Lessons Include:

  • Examining the Preamble—Attendees learn about the preamble while participating in civil conversation about President Obama’s “More Perfect Union” speech.
  • Looking at the Bill of Rights through Students’ Eyes—Do Students’ Rights End at the Schoolhouse door? Attendees participate in a moot court focusing on Tinker v. Des Moines.
  • Understanding the Electoral College—Attendees take part in a simulated commission to help students understand how the electoral college works.

Lunch will be provided.

For further information please contact Tiffani Watson at (312) 663-9057 ext. 205.

CRFC is a CPS-approved provider. Attendees will receive 12 CPDUs.

Register Here.

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Chicago Crusader

Officials still not providing details on Roosevelt

CHICAGO CRUSADER — Officials overseeing Gary’s school district are still not providing details about questionable repairs made to the shuttered Roosevelt College and Career Academy. Two weeks after emailing questions to Gary Emergency Manager Peter Morikis and Deputy Superintendent Nakia Douglas, spokesperson Chelsea Whittington responded with answers that provides little light on the progress of the repairs.

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Roosevelt College and Career Academy

Spokesperson says the boilers do not currently require repair

By Erick Johnson

Officials overseeing Gary’s school district are still not providing details about questionable repairs made to the shuttered Roosevelt College and Career Academy.

Two weeks after emailing questions to Gary Emergency Manager Peter Morikis and Deputy Superintendent Nakia Douglas, spokesperson Chelsea Whittington responded with answers that provides little light on the progress of the repairs.

Roosevelt had been closed since February after it was widely reported that the boiler failed and the pipes burst during sub-zero temperatures caused a polar vortex. A recent story in the Crusader raised questions of whether Roosevelt had been closed for good as classes remain at the Gary Career Center. The building had been left crumbling with broken windows, debris and overgrown grass. The Crusader’s request to view the repairs or see photos of the maintenance work went unanswered. When pressed about the repairs, Douglas hung up twice on a Crusader reporter. Neighbors near Roosevelt said they have seen workers removing items from the school, located at 730 W. 25th Avenue.

With classes over for the school year, the future of the historic building remains in doubt as Roosevelt students prepare to spend another year at the Gary Career Center during the upcoming school year.

In her emailed response on June 25, Whittington said that emergency repairs to the heating system and plumbing were “made over the past several months.”

Whittington said the primary damage was “to the heating system and the plumbing. The boilers may not have incurred significant damage. However, a full determination of the condition of the boilers has not been made due to the damage to the heating system and plumbing.”

Asked about the estimated costs to correct the problem, Whittington said “additional work is required to determine the total costs of all repairs.”

Whittington did not give an estimated time assessment on when the problem will be resolved and the building will be reopened to hold classes again.

“Due to the complexity of the damage and the condition of the building, a firm date has not been determined,” she said.

The Crusader asked how many GCSC employees are working on the repairs at  Roosevelt. Whittington said “GCSC has 15 grounds and maintenance employees who work in all buildings including Roosevelt. Additionally, GCSC contracts with heating, mechanical and plumbing companies for specific repairs.”

In a follow up email that same day, the Crusader asked for the name of the contractor or companies that work with the GCSC in correcting maintenance problems. The Crusader again requested to tour the building to view the repairs. The Crusader also asked for a second time to view any photos of the repairs. Officials haven’t responded to the follow up questions, one week after they were submitted.

Officials have also not responded to a request under Freedom of Information Act a copy of maintenance and financial records pertaining to Roosevelt’s heating system dating back since January 2019. The Crusader also requested all emails from Morikis and Douglas since January.

In an email on June 25, Michael Tolbert, an attorney for GCSC, said he is working on the Crusader’s request, but have not yet produced any documents.

This article originally appeared in the Chicago Crusader.

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Chicago Crusader

‘Moving Past PTSD’ addresses challenges facing veterans

CHICAGO CRUSADER — A recent CBS ‘60 Minutes’ segment hailed a simple procedure therapy for PTSD that’s so fast-acting, many believe it could be a game changer. With more than 20 veterans a day committing suicide, we owe these brave heroes a better chance at transitioning to civilian life. No one understands this better than Retired Lieutenant Colonel Jaime B. Parent, who has been working on new approaches for returning vets in his latest book, “Moving Past PTSD: Consciousness, Understanding, and Appreciation for Military Veterans and their Families.”

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Photo by: Anh Nguyen | Unsplash

By The Chicago Crusader

A recent CBS ‘60 Minutes’ segment hailed a simple procedure therapy for PTSD that’s so fast-acting, many believe it could be a game changer.

With more than 20 veterans a day committing suicide, we owe these brave heroes a better chance at transitioning to civilian life. No one understands this better than Retired Lieutenant Colonel Jaime B. Parent, who has been working on new approaches for returning vets in his latest book, “Moving Past PTSD: Consciousness, Understanding, and Appreciation for Military Veterans and their Families.”

In this compelling new book, with a foreword written by Congressman Danny K. Davis, the author outlines ways for integrating family into the healing process, advanced PTSD treatments and insights into hiring veterans, all told through impactful, often deeply personal interviews with veterans suffering from PTSD, their loved ones, clinicians and job recruiters.

From World War I through the present, the United States has neglected to provide adequate transition support to millions of veterans leaving military service. Instead of meaningful jobs, access to quality healthcare and education, and fair and equitable housing, what our veterans find when they return home is a new battle — against a failed bureaucracy that has let them down for the past 100 years.

As a nation, our misguided perception is that GI Joe and Jane can simply return home and pick up right where they left off. In truth, the military member who deployed overseas is often markedly different than the one coming home. The Joe and Jane who joined the military in the first place are gone, and they’re not coming back.

After months or years in highly structured organizational environments, often with deployments and horrific battlefield experiences, many military veterans have undergone paradigm shifts in their thinking, their character, and in the way they view themselves and others.

In his compelling new book, Moving Past PTSD: Consciousness, Understanding, and Appreciation for Military Veterans and Their Families, retired Lieutenant Colonel Jaime B. Parent tackles many issues facing our nation’s veterans, including mental illness, unemployment, discrimination, and many other challenges related to transitioning to civilian life.

Using thought-provoking interviews with veterans, caregivers and family members, Lt. Col. Parent hopes to break the relentless cycle of misunderstanding that prevents far too many veterans from successfully reintegrating themselves into family lives and careers. Moving Past PTSD aims to change our understanding of who the 21st century veteran is. Through this understanding, we can change their lives — and the lives of those who love them — for the better.

Author Jaime B. Parent is a retired Lieutenant Colonel, Biomedical Science Corps, United States Air Force. He continues to serve by creating a unique fast track IT career internship, the EN-Abled Vet (http://www.en-abledvet.net), which has been adopted across 15 states. Lt. Col. Parent is a passionate advocate for inclusive communities. He now writes about his experiences with his fellow veterans. He is also a sought-after speaker at veterans and disability events as well as conferences in healthcare, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.

For more information, visit the website at: https://movingpastptsd.net.

Moving Past PTSD: Consciousness, Understanding, and Appreciation for Military Veterans and their Families is published by Rowman & Littlefield. Although it is schedule for release on August 14, 2019, pre-orders are being accepted at Amazon.com.

This article originally appeared in the Chicago Crusader

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Chicago Crusader

Kamala Harris has a $100 billion plan to close the Black homeownership gap

CHICAGO CRUSADER — While housing issues didn’t come up in the presidential debates two weeks ago, Democratic candidates for president in the 2020 election continue to raise them on the campaign trail. Sen. Kamala Harris announced a $100 billion grant program to address the racial homeownership gap at Essence magazine’s art and music festival on Saturday in New Orleans. The grants would assist people of color who have lived in historically redlined neighborhoods with down payments and closing costs.

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Photo by: Jesse Roberts | Unsplash

According Harris, four million people of color would benefit from down payment assistance

By Jeff Andrews,

While housing issues didn’t come up in the presidential debates two weeks ago, Democratic candidates for president in the 2020 election continue to raise them on the campaign trail.

Sen. Kamala Harris announced a $100 billion grant program to address the racial homeownership gap at Essence magazine’s art and music festival on Saturday in New Orleans. The grants would assist people of color who have lived in historically redlined neighborhoods with down payments and closing costs.

Since the financial crisis of 2008, homeownership among African Americans has sunk despite the economy’s gradual rebound. According to the U.S. Census, African American homeownership peaked in 2005 at 49.7 percent and has steadily dropped since. It now stands at 41.1 percent.

According to Harris’s campaign, Black homeownership has historically been repressed by a number of factors, including redlining, the practice of lenders refusing to issue mortgages to majority Black neighborhoods. After World War II, the G.I. Bill provided homeownership opportunities to veterans, but people of color were largely excluded. During the housing bubble in the mid-2000s, African Americans were disproportionately targeted with subprime mortgages, which wiped out any home equity gains in the crash.

Harris’s grant program, which would be administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), would provide up to $25,000 or 20 percent of the loan value to people of color who’ve lived in historically redlined neighborhoods for at least 10 years. Families would need to buy a house for less than $300,000, make less than $100,000 annually, with some consideration given to those in high-cost metro areas. Individuals could not make more than $50,000.

The Harris campaign says four million people would benefit from the $100 billion grant program. While that program would address historic discrimination in housing, Harris is also proposing changes to how credit scores are calculated, which would make it easier for African American borrowers to qualify for a mortgage.

Since the financial crisis, mortgage lending has gotten incredibly strict. Harris’s proposal would add rent payments, phone bills, and utilities to the formula for credit scores because the current criteria—mortgage payments, student loans, credit cards, and auto loans—aren’t as common among African Americans, leaving many without a scoreable credit profile. Including rent payments and phone bills in credit score calculations would allow more people of color to build stronger credit, and thus have a better chance of qualifying for a mortgage.

Harris is one of four Democratic candidates for president with a formal housing plan. She previously introduced the Rent Relief Act in 2018, which uses a renters tax credit to reimburse taxpayers the portion of their rent that they pay above 30 percent of their income. Harris took heat from housing policy experts, many of whom believe a renters tax credit alone would simply drive up rents and benefit landlords more than renters.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has the most comprehensive housing proposal so far, and it also includes down payment assistance for people of color affected by redlining. However, Warren’s plan does not provide specific amounts, except to use $2 billion to aid families of color who were targeted with subprime mortgages during the housing bubble.

Harris’s campaign picked up momentum after the debate two weeks ago when she effectively attacked Joe Biden’s civil rights record, resulting in a polling bump for Harris and a drop for Biden. It’s no wonder then that Harris would want to bolster her housing plan with a proposal to help address historic discrimination and civil rights.

This article originally appeared in Curbed.

This article originally appeared in the Chicago Crusader

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