Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How White Flight Brought Down the Economy

This is a guest post by the fabulous Daisy of Daisy's Dead Air


PART TWO of my series, How did the American Left lose the working classes?

I drove down to Woodruff Road and decided to check out the Goodwill Store. (As my regular readers know, I love snooping around in the Goodwill.)

Although I had seen a plethora of DeMint and Haley bumper stickers on my drive down, it is notable I saw none in the Goodwill parking lot. I saw Our Lady of Guadalupe, of whom I am very fond. I saw her about five times, even more than usual.

Keeping this series of posts in mind, I counted. Three white people in the whole place. All three whites were at least over 40; one was a quite-ancient, wise-appearing old man perusing the used book-bin, carefully inspecting the tossed-aside Tom Clancy and Robert Ludlum thrillers. The other two had grandchildren in tow and seemed to be shopping for them, too.

The signs are now in Spanish and English, and several announcements were made in Spanish. (The music was a neutral oldies radio station, although I imagine that will also change in the future.) I was instantly reminded of the thrift store I went to in suburban Atlanta last year (see my souvenir photo above), in which I was the only white person in the whole store, the signs only in Spanish. And this was in Newt Gingrich's old district, where some of the houses start at half-a-million dollars (or did, before the economy tanked). Where do these folks live? -- I wondered. And then I realized, they live in one of the many apartment complexes dotting Cobb County, just as I live in a similar one here in Greenville County. They work for the people who live in the half-million-dollar homes, just as I also do.

After my visit to the suburban-Atlanta thrift store, we went over to the Barnes and Noble. I was immediately struck by the fact that these businesses were not very far apart in terms of mileage, but are light-years apart in terms of culture and economics. The Barnes and Noble was practically an all-white enclave, only a few miles from the thrift store, an all-Latino enclave.

And today, after leaving the Goodwill, I drove only a mile or so to Whole Foods.

Again, the shock of leaving a heavily-Latino enclave, driving a short distance, and entering an all-white one.

Why are we segregating ourselves?

I know for a fact (see link above) that poor (and some middle-class and bohemian-type) white people love digging through second-hand cast-offs as much as I do. I have been visiting yard sales and thrift stores my whole life, and white people have always been very well-represented.

So, what's going on?

~*~

Today, I saw workers replacing the carpet in another apartment unit in my building. Latino men, speaking Spanish and hammering nails, waved to me as I left. Latino men take care of the grounds, too. (When we moved here, the grounds crew were all black men, and the fellows laying the carpet were also black.)

Me and Mr Daisy often joke we will be the last white people left in the complex. Our apartment faces the woods and golf course, as I have written before, and we like living in this little pocket of quiet that we have been lucky to find in such a busy area. Whenever we seriously consider moving, we are never satisfied with houses that are RIGHT ON THE STREET; we have gotten rather spoiled living back here in our private little spot facing the woods, away from traffic and other suburban hoopla. Even though we are only about two blocks from I-85, we hear the occasional siren or Harley-Davidson, but not much else.

When we moved here, the population of the apartment complex seemed to mirror that of South Carolina at large, which was fine with us. (One of the main reasons we moved here was that the schools were supposed to be the best, in a county where the schools historically have left quite a lot to be desired.) I'd say it was about 25-30% African-American; the state of SC is about 1/3 African-American in total.

But we have stayed, and the other white people haven't. Where'd they go? We looked around one day, and saw that the vast majority of our neighbors were black or immigrants (Asian and Latino). The white people who remain are usually older (like us), or very young and newly employed at nearby Michelin or BMW (the Asian engineers walk to Michelin from here; while the whites all drive). We hardly see any white families with children; I was stunned to see ONLY children of color getting off the school bus in front of the apartment gate recently.

Okay, where are the white people? What's going on?

They bought houses, they got divorced, they moved away, etc. But don't People of Color do all of those things, too?

We are self-segregating.

And here it is: self-segregating costs money.

As I have intently studied the local real estate market, houses-for-sale, condos-for-rent, etc etc etc, the truth hit me with considerable force:

I can tell WHO lives in a neighborhood by the price.

Whiteness runs about $200-300 a month. That is the price of whiteness. The same-size apartment in a heavily-minority apartment complex is about $200-300 LESS than in an all-white or mostly-white complex. In terms of real estate: the same-size house, in more or less the same condition, might run you as much as $50,000 more in a mostly-white neighborhood than in a black neighborhood. Fact.

Me and Mr Daisy joke that the popular real estate expression "Location, Location, Location" is code for "White location."

How much did this whole Wall Street foreclosure-crisis have to do with white flight? Are we allowed to talk about that?

Why WERE people living so far beyond their means, anyway? When we hear the Fox News stories (beware the source), we are given to understand that it's them clueless minorities who couldn't do the math and understand that their mortgage was too high. (((shakes head dismissively in haughty Fox News manner))) Tsk tsk, what do you expect?

But I am officially rewriting that version here:
The mortgage crisis was caused, in large part, by poor white people who were fleeing Mexicans and Blacks in rental properties.
I know this because they moved away from MY apartment complex, bought pricey DeMint-district McMansions, and then went financially belly-up, in short order.

Why should we bail out white people who were running away from The Bad People? I resent doing that, since I didn't run away. Why am I footing the bill for the people who did? (After the Revolution, when I am Minister of Finance, we will be checking up on the REASONS you moved in the first place, before rescuing your mathematically-challenged, now-flat-broke white ass. Ha.)

We have to face the fact that racism is killing the working classes, rendering them/us easily manipulated by real-estate hucksters and Whole Foods and every other damn thing.

And keeping us ALL (of all colors) from joining together to SEE CLEARLY what is going on.

There is a REASON the Tea Party is largely composed of angry white people; they are the ones who did as they were told. They moved away from the Bad People, they moved where they were told to move and bought what they were told to buy... and HEY! They got fucked. How'd THAT happen? No wonder they are damned pissed. But instead of examining the ideology of capitalism (a cornerstone of which is: MUST BUY HOUSE! RENTERS ARE TACKY!), they swallow it whole, and keep on swallowing.

"You know what capitalism is? Getting fucked!"--Tony Montana

~*~

The American Left, as we established in Part One, is now itself a wholly-owned subsidiary of the ruling class. It is that segment of the ruling class that is (at best) interested and involved in justice and/or (at worst) wants to FEEL GOOD (even morally superior) about themselves. And a discussion of racism in everyday life, which is what segregation IS, is not something they are eager to have, since it is also part and parcel of the life they lead.

Because affluent liberals have the money to ignore the actual market-price of whiteness I listed above, they don't readily SEE it. To the liberal ruling class, segregation is invisible. It just IS. They want to live in XYZ neighborhood/village/subdivision/condo development because it's a cool place to live and they don't see that as any sort of racist act, and how dare you suggest such a thing. It is simply what they want, the way they want a new car stereo, a new computer, a new car. And a new house. The fact that someone BUILT that house, that computer, that car, is immaterial to them. It's something they must have; their identity depends on it (more about this phenomenon, first addressed by Herbert Marcuse and Christopher Lasch, in future posts).

Thus, segregation is totally invisible to them. Certainly, they don't believe they actively participate in segregation, even if pressed to admit they live in an all-white area. It just happened that way, that's all. Economically, segregation is not something they are forced to think about, so they don't.

And to these white people (to any privileged whites), segregation means: How many People of Color to ALLOW IN. It's already understood that they are coming from an all-white perspective, an all-white neighborhood, an all-white place. They aren't running from anybody. As privileged whites, they are there already. They already occupy the protected place the non-privileged whites are TRYING TO GET TO, the safe place that is sought after and coveted.

And for this reason, the liberal classes did not see the white flight-factor in the economic collapse. If they did, they excused it. But I am of the opinion that none actually realized the impetus for the stampede of cheap mortgages, at the same time anti-immigrant fervor exponentially increased. Because: For privileged whites, immigration is about who to employ as a nanny or yard worker. For non-privileged whites, immigration is about who is going to live next door to you.

Since the American Left ignores their own racial segregation (due to the profusion of leftists from bourgeois backgrounds), they ignore everyone else's, too. They have therefore ignored one of the primary reasons (and one of the primary motivations) for the cheap mortgages.

TO sum up: A bunch of rich industrialists bring in Latinos to work on the cheap. First they bring them in by the thousands...and then, by the millions... all while abdicating responsibility and pretending that these poverty-stricken folks are just hopping fences and swimming the Rio Grande on their own. Then, they find them apartments to live in, right next to white people, while they also employ them (very cheaply) to do upkeep on the grounds and lay carpets. The buildings fill up with spicy, strange odors and Our Lady of Guadalupe on the door; lots of brown-skinned children and women cursing at the kids in Spanish.

Don't be alarmed!--the rich to the rescue again. You don't like these people and their taco-smells? We have a cheap mortgage for YOU! Like magic, you will be transported OUT of that hell-hole, and you will be among people like yourself again.

And yes, the miracle-mortgages were marketed JUST LIKE THAT, only just a tad more respectable.

For years I have received their cheapie direct-mail advertisements for basement-rate mortgages, addressed to everyone in the apartment complex... usually stunning photo-shopped postcards of glimmering white houses that look like they are in Malibu, rather than in the upstate.

These postcards ask, in large dramatic block lettering: TIRED OF APARTMENT LIVING?

Now, why would you be tired of apartment living? Owning your own home makes you far more TIRED than calling up maintenance, let me assure you.

I think they were actually asking something else. Location, location, location.