Social Justice and Institutional Racism Come to the Three Villages

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David's Oath of the Horatii

David’s Oath of the Horatii

Abstract

One comes, one goes. Dancer for God enthusiast and newly elected Brookhaven Town Councilwoman, Valerie Cartright, will introduce herself to Three Villagers at the Setauket Civics February meeting.¹ Doubtless, she will expound upon her enthusiasm for such exciting public policies as: “incentives to the public for purchasing homes in integrated communities” and removing such impediments to racial integration as “exclusionary zoning.”

Particularly interesting will be how she intends to implement these policies in the Three Villages.

As Ms. Cartright arrives, that chubby cherub, ex Councilman Steven Fiore-Rosenfeld will be saying his goodbyes. Alas, kindly Councilman and loving family man that he was, Steve does seem to have annoyed some people.²

Social justice could soon be visiting the white burghers of the Three Villages in the form of newly elected Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie M. Cartright.³

Councilwoman Cartright will be sharing her exciting plans for Brookhaven Town District Number One, of which the affluent Three Villages is a part, at the February meeting of the Civic Association of the Setaukets and Stony Brook.4

It will be interesting to see if she enlightens attendees on her keen interest in what is essentially coerced racial integration.

One of the ways in which Ms. Cartright has given expression to her very progressive political views is by first interning with and then serving on the Board of Directors of Erase Racism Now.

The mission of Erase Racism Now is to:

To expose forms of racial discrimination and advocate for laws and policies that help eliminate racial disparities, particularly in the areas of housing, community development, public education and health.

While its vision is:

Transformed, integrated communities in which no person’s access to opportunity is limited by race or ethnicity.5

Erase Racism Now has sought to demonstrate not merely actual racial discrimination in the Long Island housing market.6 As it notes, Long Island “is one of the most racially segregated regions in the country.”

Rather than ascribing this fact to what it dismisses as “so-called”, “self- segregation,” Erase Racism Now contends that:

These factors point to structural impediments for blacks to housing choice and to quality education.7

We are dealing with, to use a phrase, “structural racism.” Unlike intended and conscious racism, structural racism (also known as “institutional racism” and, less commonly, “societal racism”), “is a complex web of policies and practices rooted within the very fabric of our public and private institutions that perpetuate inequities.”8

In its more extreme or sophisticated formulations, even the best-intended individuals who believe themselves not merely free of racist beliefs, consciously eschew racist actions and actively embrace the agenda of supposed oppressed racial minorities can be racists according to the concept of “structural racism.”

The very language of society is permeated with racist assumptions so that it becomes virtually impossible not to think in racist terms. Yet because racism is so interwoven into the language and thus into thought itself, the rampant racism that so disfigures society is not only hidden, but seems the natural order of the universe.

So it seems not only natural in an America ruled by white privilege and encased in a white racism that is both personal and impersonal, conscious and unconscious, intended and unintended, and unstructured and structured, that Afro-American males should prefer their pornographic models to be if not white, then not dark-skinned, but light-skinned.9

In its simpler formulations the notion of institutional racism contends that even apart from the actions of individuals, racism can permeate a society through the unintended consequences of its public policies. If through past racial discrimination, some racial groups are generally poorer than other racial groups, mortgage policies that require twenty percent deposits, while actuarially prudent, will have a discriminatory effect. Similarly, zoning laws that tend to match property taxes with the consumption of public services, promote efficient government and increase property values, all public goods may also lead to racial segregation with its attendant public evils.10

Institutional arrangements – laws, business practices, association membership rules, tests and so forth – that result in some racial groups being disadvantaged or performing less favorably compared to others may or may not be intended. It is their practical effect that counts, not their intent. If they have a disparate impact, then they are racist and, therefore, unacceptable.

Clearly, since it is institutional and unintended, institutional racism will not be cured by good intentions, kind words and private initiatives.

Instead:

Local government should take a proactive role in educating the public by promoting the positive aspects of integrated housing on Long Island. This should include a plan to offer incentives to the public for purchasing homes in integrated communities, such as tax breaks or buy-back programs. A strategic plan aimed at removing impediments to fair housing, such as exclusionary zoning, unfair taxation systems, and predatory lending, should be effectively implemented. Local government should plan communities with integration as one of the main goals.11

So, the lily-white denizens of the Three Villages might well want to ask Councilwoman Cartright quite what her rhetoric of ‘social justice’ means for Stony Brook, Setauket and Old Field. They should also surely ask, since Ms. Cartright served on the Board of Erase Racism Now when it issued its Long Island Fair Housing report, what policies she would try to impose upon their beloved Three Village.

Are “incentives to the public for purchasing homes in integrated communities” coming to the Three Villages? Will the land of one, two and five-acre zoning soon witness the removal of such impediments to racial integration as “exclusionary zoning?”

Even more pertinent would be a question about the continuing spat between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Westchester County about racial segregation and disparate impact in the county. In 2009, Westchester settled a discrimination suit with HUD. The settlement stipulated that it not only provide 750 public housing units in largely white communities. The county also had to analyze how county zoning potentially encouraged racial discrimination. In other words, the county was to investigate itself for “institutional racism.”

Westchester proceeded to build the required public housing units. However, the unveiling of “institutional racism” in the county was less successful.

By 2013 HUD was using the power of its purse to extract from Westchester its needed zoning analysis and plan to overcome what the Department had peremptorily decided were the exclusionary zoning practices of the County. Non-compliance would cost the County over seven million dollars in HUD funds that were quite unrelated to the housing and development issues at hand.

In the face of such coercion, Westchester offered its own analysis of racial segregation and commissioned a Pace University Law professor to examine the legality of the County analysis and rebuttal. The County contended that there was no evidence that the racial segregation observed in Westchester was consciously engineered by any groups or individuals. For HUD this was irrelevant. For according to the theory of institutional racism, racial segregation is itself evidence of racism.

Three Village residents, indeed, Brookhaven Town citizens generally, might then ask Councilwomen Cartright for her views on the HUD-Westchester issue. Specifically, they might inquire where she would stand if HUD demanded of Brookhaven Town or, more likely, Suffolk County, what it has of Westchester County. Would she stand for localism or would she would she be a Federalist? Would she demand actual proof of racism by the Town or County before forced integration was enjoined, or would the facts of racial segregation and disparate impact be sufficient?

Three Villagers should, it would seem, ready themselves to question Ms. Cartright.

Or perhaps they should not. For according to the theory of institutional racism such questions are of their nature racist. If you are reading this, you, too, are a racist. There is no escape.

Steve, we are missing you already. Come back, all is forgiven.

VC

Valerie Cartwright

FOOTNOTES

1. The new Councilwoman for Brookhaven Town District Number One worships with the Reverend Steven Mangum at the House of Judah. One of the ‘ministries’ of the good reverend is, ‘Distinctive Dance’. To quote the reverend,

The Distinctive Dance Ministry purpose is to create an atmosphere where the Lord is highly exalted through dance, mime, sign, and flag. Psalms 149:3 says “Praise his name in the dance. (The House of Judah website: http://thehouseofjudah.org/prsdnc.htm. Downloaded, February 2, 2014.

Perhaps the Councilwoman will feel the Lord on Monday night and get her feet a tappin. Bring your dancing shoes. You too can Jive for Jesus. No admission charge.

2. Some ill-spirited soul has gone to the trouble of creating a website entitled, Disgraced Politician Steve Fiore- Rosenfeld: A Legacy of Taxpayer Abuse. http://stevefiorerosenfeld.com/index.html Downloaded February 2, 2014. Say it ain’t so Steve.

3. The 2010 U.S. Census found the Three Village School Central School District to be 82.8% white. It was only 3.9% African-American. Asians account for another 10.4%.

4. Monday, 7:30 PM, 3 February, 2014 at the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library, 120 Main Street, Setauket, New York 11733, (631) 941-4080. http://www.emmaclark.org/. For the meeting, use the following hyperlink: www.facebook.com/thecivicassociation. The 2010 U.S. Census did not measure income. A crude relative measure of the wealth of the Three Villages can be found in the ‘Property Wealth Per Pupil’ indicator produced by the Financial Analysis and Research Unit of the New York State Education Department. For the 2011 – 2012 school year the Three Village school district was the ninth ‘wealthiest of fifty-four odd Suffolk County school districts. Source: Fiscal Analysis and Research Unit, New York State Education Department at: http://www.oms.nysed.gov/faru/Profiles/profiles_cover.html. The three villages of the ‘Three Villages are Stony Brook, Setauket and Old Field. 

5. Erase Racism Now website, Mission & Vision statement. Downloaded, February 2, 2014. http://www.eraseracismny.org/about-us/mission-a-vision. Rather, indeed, very oddly, Ms. Cartright seemed to have been very quiet about her exciting work on racial segregation at Erase Racism Now. See her interview with the Port Jefferson Patch: Cartright Earns Democrats’ Nomination for Brookhaven Council, Port Jefferson Patch, June 13, 2013.

http://portjefferson.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/cartright-earns-democrats-nomination-for- brookhaven-town-council_065eb836. Downloaded, February 2, 2013. She presses all the right white liberal buttons about the environment, smart growth, community input and affordable housing. There is nothing to suggest that she is a radical racial social justice warrior and far-left progressive.

6. Fair Housing Discrimination Lawsuit, Erase Racism Now website: http://www.eraseracismny.org/our- work/housing. Downloaded, February 2, 2014.

7. Survey Research Report: Housing and Neighborhood Preferences of African Americans on Long Island, Erase Racism Now website: http://www.eraseracismny.org/our-work/housing. Downloaded, February 2, 2014. Emphasis in original.

8. Long Island Fair Housing. A State of Inequity. Institutional and Structural Racism in Housing: The Status of Current Enforcement Systems and Recommendations For Improvement, Erase Racism Now, p. 3, No Date. http://www.eraseracismny.org/storage/documents/housing/Long_Island_Fair_Housing_A_State_of_Inequity.pdf. Downloaded, February 2, 2014. 

9. If you are ever in the New York Subway waiting for a subway train, you can kill time by looking at the magazine covers in the newspaper kiosks. It is quite informative. You will notice, for example, that the covers of the pornographic magazine explicitly aimed at the Afro-American male market, invariably feature models with very light skins. If not for their Negroid facial casts, these models could often past for Caucasians. The male Afro- American preference for light-skinned females is of course a product of biology. Estrogen, the female sex hormone lightens amongst other things. Hence, “gentlemen prefer blondes.” Even Cleopatra thought it good to wear a golden wig. Testosterone, on the other darkens. Females, in consequence, generally prefer men of a dark complexion (See, for example, Krzysztof Kościński, Facial attractiveness. General patterns of facial preferences, Anthropological Review, Volume 70, 2007 pp. 65-66.

Still, it should be noted that due to miscegenation, the color complexion of Afro-American males varies from quite light to very dark. Frequent studies have shown that the lighter-skinned is an Afro-American male, the more favorably, other things being equal, he is viewed by other Afro-American males. See, for example, David J. Schneider, The Psychology of Stereotyping, New York, 2004, p. 455. This issue, of course, is far more nuanced than can be stated in this short paper. Consider, for example, that dark and light adumbrates day and night, two of the great human universals. Dark, the night is a negative and feared because that is when the natural predators of humans are most active. Light and day are when we are free, safe and active. For the human conceptual binaries, see, Mary Douglas, Rules and Meanings, New York 2003. For early humans, sleep and predation see, Jerome M. Siegel, Sleep viewed as a state of adaptive inactivity, Nature Reviews Neuroscience 10, 747-753 (October 2009) and Donna Hart and Robert W. Sussman, Man the Hunted. Just Another Item on the Menu, available at: http://fisiologiafmabc.com.br/Siegel%202009%20-%20nature%20reviews%20neuroscience.pdf and http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~anthro/articles/Hart%20-%20Sussman%20Man%20the%20Hunted.pdf, respectively. The article by Hart and Sussman is an extract from their book, Man the Hunted. Primates, Predators and Human Evolution, Cambridge, MA, 2005. Those with a taste for the incendiary might turn to the Japanese evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa. He posted a piece on the Psychology Today blog entitled, A Look at the Hard Truths About Human Nature. The piece argues that from the scientific standpoint black women are less attractive to men than other women. It was quickly removed from the blog. For one account of the affaire Kanazawa, see, Hilary Moss, Satoshi Kanazawa Causes Firestorm After Claiming Black Women are Less Attractive, Huffington Post, July 17, 2011, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/17/satoshi-kanazawa-black-women-less-attractive_n_863327.html. Downloaded, February 3, 2014. 

10. William A. Fischel, Zoning and Land Use Regulation, in B. Bouckaert and G. De Geest (eds.), Encyclopaedia of Law and Economics, Volume II, pp. 414 – 415, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, 2000. http://encyclo.findlaw.com/2200book.pdf. Downloaded, February 2, 2014.

11. Long Island Fair Housing. A State of Inequity. Institutional and Structural Racism in Housing: The Status of Current Enforcement Systems and Recommendations For Improvement, Erase Racism Now, p. 1, No Date. http://www.eraseracismny.org/storage/documents/housing/Long_Island_Fair_Housing_A_State_of_Inequity.pdf. Downloaded, February 2, 2014. Ms. Cartright served on the Board that issued this report, so one might assume that shed indorsed its contents including its conclusions and recommendations. More to the point:

While a law student at Touro Law Center, Ms. Cartright worked as a research assistant at ERASE Racism, a Long Island not-for-profit organization promoting policies and programs to address institutional and structural racism and increase racial equity in public school education, housing and health. She assisted on the Housing Discrimination and Employment Discrimination project by conducting the research on all of the New York and Federal Discrimination laws and assessing how they applied to private, state and federal agencies. In an attempt to develop a forum for accountability, she drafted questionnaires and surveys to send to New York Agencies concerning the discrimination and affirmative action programs at their agencies (Source: http://www.zoominfo.com/p/Valerie-Cartright/391464446).

Brookhaven Town residents might well want to ask Ms. Cartright to what extent she endorses the conclusions and recommendations of Long Island Fair Housing. A State of Inequity. Given the famous evasiveness of politicians, vigilance and the demand for straight answers should be the order of the day. 

 

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