A ghetto is a part of a city in which members of a minority group live, especially because of social, legal, or economic pressure.The term was originally used in Venice to describe the part of the city to which Jews were restricted and segregated.
The story of how America’s ghettos came to be is one that has misled many over the years. Some may believe that people chose to live segregated, while others know the truth behind the government planning and plotting where different races would live, ultimately creating the segregated residential areas people have been living in for years.
Are ghettos simply people not being able to afford to move into a nice neighborhoods? Is it because some people have purposefully directed whites and blacks to different neighborhoods? Or is it in fact white flight that has caused blacks to live in one are and the whites in another? These reasons are myths to some, particularly research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, Richard Rothstein, who has spent quite some time studying the history of segregation in residential areas of America. He and others seem to think that the government actually created ghettos through various policies.
One particularly policy pertains to public housing and how it created segregation. Public housing created racial segregation when the building of houses that were only available to one race in integrated neighborhoods occurred. Before this happened, segregation didn’t exist.
Another policy, the Federal Housing Administration, also kept black and whites separate. From the 1930s to about the 50s, the Federal Housing Administration would give builders loans through banks because they could get loans at lower interest rates on the condition that none of the homes built in the subdivisions be sold to African-Americans. This obviously kept blacks out of certain areas and races segregated.
Municipal policies also played a role in creating segregation and the slum conditions that many still live in today. With garbage being collected infrequently and crowding of the neighborhoods, these areas were not a desirable location to live in. Since many whites were easily convinced that African Americans would bring the slum-like conditions with them anywhere they went, real estate agents could get them to sell their homes for cheap. The real estate agents or the speculators who would purchase the homes would then resell the homes to African-Americans at a higher price because of restricted demand, which was also know as “blockbusting.”
Was the plan to isolate blacks in the slums? Some people think so. With the policies being put in place that created segregation it is easy to see why people believe that the government is the cause of ghettos existing.