Contributed by -

Marcia L. Fudge


On May 31st, our country marked the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre. We remember this day as one of the most painful moments in our nation’s history. A day when a community was devasted by hate.

Formerly enslaved Black people put down roots in the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, in an area that became known as Black Wall Street. They built their own community—full of talent, culture, and hope. Until that dreadful night, when a mob of more than 1000 white people descended upon Greenwood. Thousands of Black homes and businesses were destroyed. Yet, no arrests were ever made. No proper accounting of the dead was ever performed. No justice ever realized.

Following the massacre—as the people of Greenwood tried to put their lives back together—they were still confronted with the ever present vestiges of systemic racism. Discriminatory practices such as redlining and racist zoning laws prevented Black Tulsans from getting the loans they needed to repair their homes and businesses. The community—like so many Black communities in America—was cut off from jobs and opportunity. Disinvestment from the state and federal government denied Black Wall Street a chance at truly rebuilding.

As we reflect on the Tulsa Race Massacre, we are reminded that even 100 years later, America continues to bear the scars of our dark legacy of racism. It is a constant struggle to address the damage systemic racism has inflicted on our people and this nation.

In June, I was proud to join President Biden in Tulsa, where he became the first sitting President to visit Greenwood and mark the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre. It was a moment in our history where our federal government recognized the role it has played in creating barriers for Black communities—and its commitment to break down those barriers.

Today, 100 years later, Black and brown households continue to face discrimination in the housing market—when trying to secure mortgages, to move our families into neighborhoods with greater opportunities, and when having our homes appraised.

A 2018 Brookings study found that homes in majority-Black neighborhoods are often valued at tens of thousands of dollars less than similar homes in, majority-White communities. The impact of disparities in home appraisals can be far-reaching, limiting homeowners’ ability to benefit from refinancing or to re-sell their homes at fair market value. It is a direct form of wealth stripping that contributes to the racial wealth gap.

To add salt in our wounds, we know families of color bear the brunt of the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. People of color were more likely to lose their jobs, to experience a loss in wages, and to fall behind on their rent and mortgage payments.

Fortunately, I am glad to say that—under the Biden-Harris administration—it is a new day in America.

The President is determined to help families achieve greater security and build intergenerational wealth by making equitable access to housing a central priority.

During the President’s first week in office, he charged our federal government to work with communities in eliminating racial bias and other forms of discrimination in all stages of homebuying.

To build upon that commitment, President Biden has tasked me with leading an interagency initiative to combat inequity in home appraisals. It is the first such government-led initiative of its kind—and we have already started laying the groundwork.

We will take swift, aggressive steps that tap into all of the levers at the federal government’s disposal. These include potential enforcement actions under fair housing laws, regulatory actions, and the development of standards and guidance among industry and state and local governments. Together, we will help break down the barriers that keep Black and brown families across the nation from building greater wealth.

At HUD, we understand a secure and stable home represents more than four walls and a roof. Our homes connect us to good schools, better jobs, more affordable transportation options, and to communities with cleaner air and water. Our homes are the bedrock upon which we build our futures. To put it simply, our homes are our foundations.

As America commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, we must rededicate ourselves to ensuring social and economic justice on behalf of communities of color. We must finally rid ourselves of the stain of systemic racism from the very fabric and soul of our nation.

That is the mission the Biden-Harris administration will work relentlessly to achieve.

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