Pre-Packaged Suburban Life - For Whites Only ~ Praxis Habitus - On Race Religion & Culture

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Pre-Packaged Suburban Life - For Whites Only

If you've never heard of Levittown, here's your chance. This mid-20th Century urban development made home buyers sign a statement saying they would 'not permit the premises to be used or occupied by any person other than members of the Caucasian race.'

A new book on racial relations and urban development is now out.

Levittown: Two Families, One Tycoon, and the Fight for Civil Rights in America's Legendary Suburb

New manufacturing techniques, the demand for homes post-WWII, and new financing schemes (with the surge of kids which we now call "The Baby Boom") coalesced in the creation of planned communities.

Levittown (in both New York and Pennsylvania) produced so many homes that by 1952 the Levitt brothers who created these communities were building one 1 of every 8 homes in America.

In a review of the book, The Wall Street Journal writes,

With the inauguration of the nation's first African-American president still fresh in our memories, it is easy to forget that not that long ago hard-wired racism underpinned communities all over America -- not just in the states of the old Confederacy -- and that acquiring a home was, for black families, a process often fraught with humiliation and danger.

These urban villages were to

start as complete communities, themselves prefabricated, so to speak, with shopping centers, churches, pools, parks, curved streets for a rural feel and cul-de-sacs where children could play safely. The Levittown customer, declared Bill Levitt, was "not just buying a house, he's buying a way of life."

Do you wish you had more insight on the persistent racial disparities in the United States? Learn more about the discriminatory practices of housing and lending that existed for much of the past century (with remnants still continuing today). The cascade of subsequent effects on jobs, education, and health are profound.

Here's a well-written, well-researched book that highlights this too-often-ignored aspect of urban America.

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