A Battle Won Against Racial Discrimination


racial-discriminationby Dennis Parker

We’re living in a tale of two Americas, where racial segregation and racial disparities in housing continue to plague our nation.

A report we released this week outlines just how disadvantaged future generations of Black Americans will be because of predatory lending practices that disproportionately targeted people of color. Yet, in the midst of the seemingly relentless reminders of the ways that racial discrimination continues to plague our nation, the decision of the Supreme Court in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. provides a much-needed cause for celebration.

The decision is important not because it articulates a new principle, but because it re-affirms long-standing legal precedent that recognizes the purpose and function of the Fair Housing Act passed in 1968. Every court of appeals and all of the agencies responsible for enforcing federal fair housing law have recognized that the struggle to eradicate unfair housing practices should include instances when people are harmed by policies which are neutral on their face, but have discriminatory consequences —regardless of whether there is evidence that the party responsible for the policy intended the discriminatory outcomes.

In order to protect legitimate business and administrative practices, courts have permitted defendants to prevail in legal challenges by demonstrating that practices with discriminatory effects serve legitimate goals and that there are no less discriminatory ways of achieving those goals. The balancing of consequences and goals constitutes a time-tested, common-sense way of enforcing fairness and necessity.

The decision is notable not only because it preserves an effective way of enforcing vital civil rights statutes but because it explicitly recognizes the need for those laws.

The ruling also prevents double victimization of some of the most vulnerable in American society — survivors of domestic abuse. Lower courts and HUD have previously found that the Fair Housing Act’s prohibition against sex discrimination protects survivors from housing discrimination, including evictions based on the violence committed against them.

Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy acknowledged the importance of our “historic commitment to creating an integrated society.” Noting the dire prediction of the Kerner Commission in 1968 — that the nation is moving toward two separate and unequal societies — he reaffirmed the “Fair Housing Act’s continuing role in moving the Nation toward a more integrated society.”

The Supreme Court’s decision is not an indication that the goals have been met. But, even if we have not arrived, the road to our goal has been kept open. We have a long way to go until our communities are integrated and free from racial discrimination, and until Black Americans can access the same opportunities that make up the American dream. Today’s decision, nevertheless, allows us to continue on that path towards equality without any additional boulders thrown in our way.

Dennis Parker is the Director of the ACLU Racial Justice Program


About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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7 thoughts on “A Battle Won Against Racial Discrimination”

  1. zaqzaq

    Why is it that the Asian american community has had much more success than black america?  It is not housing.  It is cultural.  Emphasis on education as a way to an improved socioeconomic status is the answer.  Until the parents in these communities understand this concept they will not change their condition.  It is now ok to stigmatize Asian parents with terms like Tiger or Dragon mom.  Ridicule their emphasis on music over sports.  These mothers are succeeding in emphasizing education as a means of achieving economic success.  Meanwhile black communities have a problem with  a culture that often equates academic success as acting white.  This results in economic segregation that has racial tones.  It is not housing.  Just look at the history of China towns in most of our major cities.
    I have been told the story by a friend of how their Asian parents were directed by white real estate agents to the Greenhaven/Pocket area instead of the new subdivision in Meadow View in Sacramento. Meadow View was supposed to be for good white people. How did that turn out?

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      he Asian comunity was not enslaved for generations. They also had a strong base of support overseas. Look at the difference between wealthy Asian countries like South Korea and Japan versus poorer Asian countries like the Philipines, Thailand, Vietnam and others in SE Asian.

      1. Frankly

        You are rewriting history quite a bit here and seem to be desperately grasping at straws to prop up arguments obviously struggling to explain the extreme differences.  “Coolies” where Asian slaves brought over to make up for a shortage of African slaves.

        More Asians have been enslaved historically than have Africans.

        Your point about strong base of support overseas is somewhat humorous; first because it ignores the strong base of support in the US… one big difference with the Asian and black community here (have you read about the black student beat by a bunch of black class mates because he made the honor roll  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=texwpf_Jr7I … don’t see this kind of stuff in the Asian communities do we?), and second, it is relatively recently that some Asians have benefited from overseas support.  Prior generations left Asian countries primarily due to economic hardship in their home country.

        I’m really trying to understand this narrative of excuse for poor black social and economic outcomes being the history of slavery in light of the fact that it was centuries ago, we have a black President, and then all the bad behavior we constantly see by blacks in black communities.  My current view is that liberal and black victim mentality, and liberal social and economic policies, lock the black psyche into a suspended state of personal and community growth.    During my life as I faced all the adversity I faced, if I had so much “the history of slavery for your race is responsible for your strife”, I would likely have adopted a victim mentality and acted out in anger… and destroyed all the opportunities I might have otherwise had after making one bad choice after the other.

        1. hpierce

          Frankly, your historic compass is broken… Asians, Irish, English, Mexicans, etc., were certainly brought into our economy as indentured servants, and/or exploited workers, but have not heard of the “sale” of  those, nor splitting the families of those, to be “sold”.  The African/American or “black” history of this country is different.

          Look at the Constitution. The only reason why slaves were counted as population at all was a peon to the southern colonies.  To give them more votes in Congress.

          That being said, many if not most, Asians, Irish, English, Mexican, etc., exploited workers came AFTER the legal end of slavery in the US.  I believe you are correct to the extent that ‘slavery’, in and of itself, does not explain/justify the current economic/political/social differences.  The only reason I can think of is the true slavery we had had no regard for families of a race.  Yet 6 + generations later, can’t fathom how that shouldn’t have healed.

      2. zaqzaq


        How many Chinese worked and died on the continental railroad?  How was the racism towards Chinese or Japanese really any different than to blacks.  Slavery ended in 1865 but we interned Japanese Americans in concentration camps in the 1940″s after much of their property was seized (stolen).  Yet the Japanese american community stormed back afterwards based on the prioritization of education.  How was China an economic powerhouse in the 1800s or even 1950’s?  South Korea was decimated by the Korean war and before that WWII.  Japan after World War II  was a mess.  Japan’s lack of natural resources led to WWII.  So the question becomes how did Japan and South Korea become economic powerhouses while others lagged.  Look at their educational systems and their drive to westernize and you will find the answer.   You are making my point for me.  When a culture or ethnicity embraces education as a priority they will be much more successful.   The Asian American community has embraced education as a means of economic advancement and even been ridiculed for it.  Should the black community be ridiculed for the stereotype of being more interested in basketball than learning to read or speak proper English?  Now you have Ebonics as an excuse.    You do not hear the Asians admonishing their members to stop acting white by reading a book or going to school.

        And I have not even touched the subject of out of wedlock births.

  2. Tia Will


    What you have done is to take a clearly multifactorial problem and decide which factors you want to acknowledge and which you do not based on your pre existing bias.

    To make the blanket statement “it is not housing” is to ignore many years of differential lending practices, differential steering of different populations to different areas, and individual race based choices such as the phenomena of “white flight”. While I agree that cultural differences also play a major role in what values a child is exposed to and ultimately adopts, it is absurd to claim that being forced into a given housing situation because there is no where else for you to go does not also play a role.

    1. zaqzaq


      Did I not touch on the discriminatory housing practice in Sacramento that steered Asians from Meadowview to Greenahaven’Pocket.  Look how nice those neighborhoods turned out.  The Asian population in Greenhaven/Pocket took pride in home ownership and contributed to nice neighborhoods.   So your point seems to be you own personal biases at work.  It is pathetic to keep blaming black culture on slavery that ended 150 years ago.  Stop providing the excuse.

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