Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann (R-Minnesota) enacts the persistent tendency of white people to wipe their own messes onto the backs of black and brown people. What she’s reading into the Congressional Record here is part of an article from a right-wing publication, the Investor’s Business Daily, that blames the current financial crisis on “blacks and other minorities,” many of whom took out mortgage loans they later couldn’t afford. Never mind, she would probably say, that a lot of white people did that too.
The 1977 Community Reinvestment Act, which Bachmann disparages here, partially corrected a long history of racist lending practices, which kept blacks and other minorities from decent (that is, “white”) neighborhoods. In particular, the act outlawed the practice of “redlining,” which happened when banks drew actual red lines on maps around minority areas, and then denied mortgages to people within the red border, even though they qualified for such loans. The real effort of Michelle Bachmann and others currently decrying this Act is to deflect blame from the endlessly greedy white-collar managers and investors who built our collapsing economic house of cards and onto America’s ever-ready scapegoat, those racial “minorities.”
They also want to shift blame from Republican policies that favor the rich to Democratic ones that favor the poor. You see, it’s not the rampant deregulation initiated by Republican free-market advocates during the Reagan Administration that’s to blame here, nor, again, the financial industry’s leaders and managers whose greed was thereby allowed to run rampant. No, it’s Jimmy Carter’s fault for getting that Community Reinvestment Act passed, and thus the real fault, after all, of those blacks and other minorities that Democrats are always catering to. It’s “those people,” who in the collective white imagination always remain reliably “irresponsible.” And reliably absolving.
What if history suggests they were right to do so?
Fannie Mae, the nation’s biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.
”Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the 1990’s by reducing down payment requirements,” said Franklin D. Raines, Fannie Mae’s chairman and chief executive officer. ”Yet there remain too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called subprime market.”
The problem is that white people are divided over basic ideology, and many want to use the Christlike symbol of the impoverished minority as a bargaining chip — to prove their own moral worth.
Obviously, it’s stupid to blame minorities for this crisis, and there I agree with your article. Blame the white dramatists who are using minorities for moral leverage.
Tags: community reinvestment act, franklin d. raines, great recession, race, subprime crisis