Redlining How redlining affects people of color generation by generation

If you want to listen the description for the whole project, please go to the link below :)

How does redlining affect people's attitude towards colored people? How does it influence the stereotypes towards different races? Does it have any influences on the racial inequality today? What is the essential reason which causes the racial biases?

In order to explore the answer for those questions above, I want to analyze the social influence of redlining based on the film A raisin in the sun through this project, in which a high-educated African-American family moves into a "white" community and experiences inequality and biases. The film is a point of penetration, by which I would like to discuss how does the redlining form people's idea, and what kind of stereotypes does it produce toward colored people. Furthermore, I would also try to talk about how does the redlining affects our society even today. Although in nowadays, America opens to "everyone" theoretically and makes effort to avoid inequality towards colored people, biases and misunderstandings between different cultures are still there. By this project, I would try to find the influence of redlining on racial inequality. In order to achieve my goal, I will find clues from the film and analyze what happened to colored people in the context of redlining. Also, I will also pay attention to the attitude of white people and figure out how does redlining construct stereotypes and biases.

I will just focus on a part of this film and try to analyze how the redlining affects colored people's life and builds stereotypes towards them. The film tells the story of an high-educated African-American family--Youngers. They get a life insurance check for Lena's husband's death, and each member of the family has their own idea about how to spend the money. Then, what I would like to talk about is after they decide to use some money to buy a new house in an entirely white section of a city. As they move into the house, their neighborhood look at them with inconceivable expression. Then, their white neighborhood send Karl Lindner from the improvement association to persuade Youngers to leave and return them money. This film was adapted from a play, which came out in 1959, which means that what happened to Youngers were in the context of redlining. By this part of the plot, we can notice that redlining actually separate white and colored people and prevent colored people from pursuing better life condition. They cannot enjoy equal right as white people. Although they are high-educated people, they cannot share good infrastructures, education resources, and financial service with white people. All of these prevent them from blending into the American society. Also, redlining deepens the stereotypes and biases toward colored people. It separates people into two parts, and they do not try to know each other. Thus, it attributes to the formation of people's innate ideas toward minorities.


How did redlining affect people of color generation by generation?

Through the history of America, topics about races are always controversial and dynamic. People with different cultural backgrounds came to this land and formed this country. However, although they are all Americans and all contribute to the formation of this nation, they are separated into different “classes.” people of color became minority, and white people tried to emphasize their superiority, both physically and socially. Redlining was one of the ways by which white people tried to prevent people of color from enjoying equal right. From 1930s, HOLC began to create residential security map to classify various areas into different riskiness levels base on the community demographics. Because of this, the “white” communities received more sponsorships and investments, and the white people who lived in such communities can enjoy good financial services, health care, and infrastructures. At the same time, the areas where people of color lived in were classified to be dangerous places, and then as the result, those communities got bad services and had no welfare. In this essay, I will try to talk about how redlining influences people of color' life and how does it deepen the biases by analyzing the film A Raisin in the Sun. Furthermore, I would connect it with our society today and discuss how does it keep affecting us.

In that days, redlining actually limited people of color especially African Americans who just could buy house in some specific places. And in the residential security map, those places were marked as dangerous with red color. Those communities received bad services and bad financial aid. Because of the policy, people of color had no ways to change their life condition. Just like what happened to Youngers in the film A Raisin in the Sun. When they tried to move into a white community and improved their financial circumstances, their white neighbors came out first to persuade them to leave. They sent a representative to offer Youngers the choice of leaving and taking back their money. Redlining not only segregated the people of color and lowered their life condition but also deprived their liberty of pursuing a better life.

Besides, redlining also deepened the misunderstanding between white and the people of color. First of all, they had no chance to contact with each other. They lived in their own communities, took separated school, and faced different problems. Furthermore, this policy also set people’s mind into racial stereotypes towards colored people. HOLC classified an area just depending on its demographics, and it said that a community was very dangerous just because there were lots of African Americans. All of these impressed people that the people of color were dangerous and untrustworthy. However, there were actually no such big difference between different races biologically. It was the social structures and policies such us redlining which emphasized the differences and tried to fix the racial classes.

The negative effects towards minorities of redlining are lasting. In nowadays, although U.S eliminated those unequal policies and wanted to resume the right of people of color, there still exists biases and inequality. Due to the segregation at that time, many of African Americans could not enjoy financial services, education resources, and good living environment. And what they encountered at that time were reflected to their next generation. Based on the data in Alvin Chang’s article “Living in a poor neighborhood changes everything about your life,” between 1955 and 1970 most of black kids grow up in poor areas (33% medium poverty; 29% high poverty), but just 4% of white kids who grow up in bad neighborhood (3% medium poverty; 1% high poverty). Correspondingly, those white kids could receive better education and good health care. And such distribution stayed the same for next 30 years, as Alvin said between 1985 and 2000 “the same number of black children continued to grow up in the very poorest neighborhoods.” (35% medium poverty; 31% high poverty). From those data, we can notice that the redlining does not only hurt one generation of African Americans but produce huge effects to their children and grandchildren. Even though America wants to create equality, it is hard to make up for those historical problems.

Except physical effects, redlining also deepened the biases and draw a red line in people’s mind. After those years of segregation, white people and people of color became two separated parts of our society. They lived in their own community and had no chance to really know each other. Thus, stereotypes became the only image of people of color, and understanding was harder and harder. I noticed that most of biases were produced by misunderstanding. Just like the story in the film Green Book, Doc Shirley is a black musician, and during his performing tour with his white driver Tony, he is treated badly and unequally. When he asked for the restroom in fancy restaurant, the waiter led him to a gloomy wooden partition. And when he attended a banquet, the host prepared pop chicken for him because he thought that all black people liked pop chicken. Actually, the existence of all these biases was because they did not know Doc Shirley and just make judgement by stereotypes. Tony was a good example. At the beginning, Tony despised Shirley because he is black. But when he watched his amazing piano performance, when Doc Shirley helped him with the letter for his wife, Tony gradually know that Doc Shirley was respectful and trustworthy. Understanding can eliminate the biases produced by historical ideas and appearance. And that’s why I feel that redlining builds up a wall in people’s inner world, which makes understanding impossible and opposes the formation of equality.


What I link below is a short reflection on the process of doing this project. If you want to learn about where did my idea come from or were there any problems that I met while writing the paper, please go to the link.