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Monday, August 31, 2020

Sen. Murphy reacts to Trump's defense of teen charged with killing two protesters in Kenosha

Opinion | It’s time to challenge the cockeyed reaction to violence - The Washington Post

Opinion by 

"Donald Trump has incited racist fears since he came down the gold escalator in 2015 to announce his presidential campaign. He had peaceful protesters gassed and deployed camouflaged troops to Portland, Ore., to grab protesters off the street without probable cause. He has used pictures of mayhem and violence (either from scenes playing out under his own administration or from foreign events) to instill fear in White Americans. He vowed to keep suburbs (read: White suburbs) safe from integrated housing (read: Black people). He encouraged police not to be “too nice” in handling suspects. He denies systemic racism and instead paints all protesters as anarchists, socialists and violent extremists. He has refused to condemn police officers who kill unarmed Black men and women or White armed groups engaged in violence. He invited to the Republican National Convention a couple charged with a felony for brandishing weapons at Black Lives Matter marchers. President Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway confesses the more violence in the streets, the better for him.

This phenomenon — reveling in violence from racial divisions they stoke — is part of the white supremacist playbook, specifically the phenomenon known as “accelerationism.” The Brookings Institution reports:
Some white supremacists already see the riots and broader polarization as vindication of this idea, and law enforcement and civil society activists concerned about the growth of extremism should watch to see if this idea takes further hold within white supremacist groups and organizations in the coming weeks and months.
Accelerationism is the idea that white supremacists should try to increase civil disorder — accelerate it — in order to foster polarization that will tear apart the current political order. … Accelerationists hope to set off a series of chain reactions, with violence fomenting violence, and in the ensuing cycle more and more people join the fray. When confronted with extremes, so the theory goes, those in the middle will be forced off the fence and go to the side of the white supremacists.
Trump amplifies White fears. Brookings explains: “His efforts to claim that the legitimate protesters are all Antifa, blame ‘liberal Governors and Mayors’ for the unrest, and declare that ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts’ all exacerbate tensions. Such statements are likely to provoke strong and divergent reactions from across the political spectrum rather than bring Americans together in outrage over George Floyd’s murder and the need to reject violence in favor of genuine reform.”
Republican elected officials feel comfortable reverting to the Southern Strategy, portraying themselves as the only thing standing between White people and violent Black people. It is a tune they have been singing since 1968.
Naturally then, the news media is holding Trump accountable for violence, insisting that he condemn police excesses and … no, that is not happening. Instead, they amplify Trump’s demand that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden do something about the violence. Biden’s weak-kneed supporters (playing into Trump’s hands) blame Biden for not denouncing violence — which Biden has repeatedly done. That in turn generates a spate of “Democrats worried violence hurts Biden” articles. The media focus on the same few incidents of violence drowns out reports (mostly in print, rarely on TV news) explaining White instigators’ role in these events. (When the role of White provocateurs does make the news, there is rarely video to accompany the brief reference to White agitators.) And you wonder how Trump gets away with rabid race-baiting?
A few Democrats have figured out what is going on. Appearing on CNN, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) observed, “They believe the violence is helpful to them. And the president is only motivated by one thing: ‘What is in it for him?’ He sees this violence — and his ability to agitate more of it — as useful to his campaign.” He added, “What it does to the country, the loss of life, he doesn’t care.”
Biden is now planning to travel on Monday (not clear where he will go) to — again — denounce the violence. But he should also go on offense. Trump incites violence. Trump encourages vigilantism. Trump refuses to acknowledge that slogans such as Blue Lives Matter can encourage vigilantes. (The White suspect who allegedly killed two people in Kenosha, Wis., apparently attended a Trump rally and brandished the Blue Lives Matter slogan.) Biden should demand Trump denounce shootings of unarmed Black men, stop Republican obstruction to police reform, cease veneration of symbols of white supremacy such as the Confederate flag and decry White armed groups.
Democrats will not win by cowering in fear that Trump will blame them for the violence he provoked. They win by making the case that Trump has made America more violent and increased racial tension for his own political benefit."
Opinion | It’s time to challenge the cockeyed reaction to violence - The Washington Post


RNC 2020 & Kenosha: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Opinion | Trump, Vicar of Fear and Violence

Trump, Vicar of Fear and Violence

He continues the old practice of stoking white victimhood for votes.

Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times
The use of white fear and white victimhood as potent political weapons is as old as the country itself. Donald Trump is just the latest practitioner of this trade.
As Robert G. Parkinson wrote in “The Common Cause,” his book about patriot leaders during the American Revolution, politicians used fears of insurrectionist enslaved people, Indian “massacres” and foreign mercenaries to unite the disparate colonies in a common fight.

Does this sound similar to Trump’s rhetoric on Mexicans, Muslims, immigrants, Black Lives Matter and supposed anarchists?

Even the founding fathers used white fear of the “other” for political benefit. And when they didn’t have the facts, they were not above fabrication.

In 1782, before the peace treaty that officially ended the Revolutionary War had been negotiated, Benjamin Franklin, fearing some form of reconciliation between Britain and the colonies, sought to inflame passions of the colonists and embarrass the British by concocting a report of packages including “8 large ones containing SCALPS of our unhappy Country-folks, taken in the three last Years by the Senneka Indians from the Inhabitants of the Frontiers of New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia,” purportedly sent to the governor of Canada for him to transmit to England.
Among the scalps were supposedly 88 women’s scalps, 193 boys’ scalps, 211 girls’ scalps and “29 little infants’ scalps of various sizes.”

None of this was true. Franklin may be a progenitor of fake news.
White fear of rebellions by the enslaved marked American life before the Civil War and informed the legal code. As the National Park Service explained:

“Slaveholding elites also regulated white behavior in attempts to increase security. One example among many occurred in 1739, when the South Carolina legislature passed the Security Act. A response to white fear of insurrection, the act required that all white men carry firearms to church on Sundays.”

This white fear also pervaded Reconstruction. As the Cornell University history professor Lawrence Glickman wrote in The Atlantic in May:

“During Reconstruction, opponents of the black-freedom struggle deployed pre-emptive, apocalyptic, slippery-slope arguments that have remained enduring features of backlash politics up to the present. They treated federal support for African-American civil rights, economic and social equality — however delayed, reluctant, underfunded, and incomplete it may have been — as a cataclysmic overreaction and framed it as a far more dangerous threat to liberty than the injustice it was designed to address.”

This white fear of Black violence was part of what gave birth to the Black Codes and Jim Crow, and it pervaded pop culture. It was a central theme in “The Birth of a Nation,” which helped revive the Ku Klux Klan and was the first movie ever screened at the White House by President Woodrow Wilson, a racist who once wrote:

“The white men of the South were aroused by the mere instinct of self-preservation to rid themselves, by fair means or foul, of the intolerable burden of governments sustained by the votes of ignorant Negroes and conducted in the interest of adventurers.”
More recently, white fear of Black violence and Black dominance has lead to misguided urban policies, white flight from urban areas, the rise of the suburbs, difficulties enacting common-sense gun measures and the militarization of policing.

One could argue that Trump’s law and order mantra has its roots in Richard Nixon’s success with it in the 1968 presidential campaign. As Time magazine reported at the time, to some it was “a shorthand message promising repression of the black community”— and to that community, it was “a bleak warning that worse times may be coming.”

This sentiment, if not the phrase itself, has been part of presidential politics ever since. George Bush used it in 1988 with his Willie Horton campaign ad. Bill Clinton’s 1994 crime bill was an effort to demonstrate that Democrats could be tough on crime. George W. Bush ran his campaign for governor of Texas using a Willie Horton-style ad, promising to be tough on crime and asserting that his opponent, Ann Richards, was soft on it.

The 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, may have tapped into it a bit when she claimed that Barack Obama was “palling around with terrorists.”

And now Trump has brought it raging back. He knows, as politicians have known before him, how white fear of violence can be exploited and used as a political tool. He has done it before, and he will do it again.

White people still, for now, are the majority of the population in this country and hold the lion’s share of the country’s power. Trump knows that if he can convince enough of them that they are under threat — that their personal safety, their way of life, their heritage, and their hold on power are in danger — they will act to protect what they have.

Trump believes what his departing counsel Kellyanne Conway told “Fox and Friends” last week: that “the more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who’s best on public safety and law and order.”

But Trump isn’t the originator of law and order demagogy, he’s just its latest vicar.

Opinion | Trump, Vicar of Fear and Violence

Portland Shooting Amplifies Tensions in Presidential Race

Portland Shooting Amplifies Tensions in Presidential Race

A fatal shooting after clashes in Portland came on the heels of the shooting deaths of two people during confrontations in Kenosha, Wis., earlier in the week.

Mason Trinca for The New York Times
PORTLAND, Ore. — A fatal shooting in Portland, Ore., over the weekend led President Trump to unleash a torrent of tweets and attacks on Sunday, capping a volatile week of street violence that is becoming a major theme in the final weeks of the 2020 campaign.
On Saturday, a man affiliated with a right-wing group was shot and killed as a large caravan of supporters of Mr. Trump drove through downtown Portland, where nightly protests have unfolded for three consecutive months. No suspect has been publicly identified and the victim’s name has not been released.

The shooting came in the same week that a 17-year-old armed with a military-style weapon was charged with homicide in connection with shootings during a protest in Kenosha, Wis., that left two people dead and one injured.

The pro-Trump rally in Portland drew hundreds of trucks filled with supporters and adorned with Trump flags into the city. At times, Trump supporters and counterprotesters clashed in the streets, with fistfights occurring and Trump supporters shooting paintball guns from the beds of pickup trucks as protesters threw objects at them.
Mr. Trump on Sunday morning posted or reposted a barrage of tweets about the clashes in Portland, with many of them assailing the city’s Democratic mayor, Ted Wheeler. The president retweeted a video showing his supporters shooting paintballs and using pepper spray on crowds in Portland before the fatal shooting. Mr. Trump wrote that “the big backlash going on in Portland cannot be unexpected,” a remarkable instance of a president seeming to support confrontation rather than calming a volatile situation.
Mason Trinca for The New York Times
The shooting immediately reverberated in a presidential campaign now entering its most intense period, and came on the heels of a Republican National Convention in which the president had sought to reframe the 2020 race as a “law and order” election.
Over the weekend, officials with Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s campaign were inundated with concern and unsolicited advice from supporters and allies suggesting the need for a forceful and frontal response. Mr. Biden issued a statement on Sunday accusing Mr. Trump of “recklessly encouraging violence,” while condemning “violence unequivocally” himself.
“I condemn violence of every kind by anyone, whether on the left or the right,” Mr. Biden said. “And I challenge Donald Trump to do the same.”

Mr. Biden will follow up with a speech in Pittsburgh on Monday, and discussions are underway for a possible trip to Kenosha soon. But the Biden campaign wants to avoid being drawn into a prolonged period of focus on unrest in the streets that campaign officials see as an effort by the Trump campaign to distract from the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic downturn, which has forced millions into unemployment.
At the same time, Chad F. Wolf, the acting secretary of homeland security, on Sunday left open the potential of sending federal law enforcement to quell the unrest in Portland.
During an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Mr. Wolf said “all options continue to be on the table” to deploy more federal agents to Portland despite the strong opposition of local leaders, who say such tactical teams have only heightened tensions.

Mr. Wheeler, at an afternoon news conference at City Hall, said the shooting had left his heart heavy, and he denounced violence. But he pointed to Mr. Trump’s combative and unyielding message as a generator of the nation’s escalating polarization and violence, and he called on the president to work with him and others to help de-escalate tensions.
Mason Trinca for The New York Times
“Do you seriously wonder, Mr. President,” he said, “why this is the first time in decades that America has seen this level of violence? It’s you who have created the hate and the division.”

He added: “We need to reset. The president needs to reset. I need to reset. This community needs to reset. And America needs to reset. And it’s going to take his leadership in the White House and it’s going to take my leadership here in City Hall to get it done.”

Mr. Trump responded quickly to the mayor’s remarks, mocking Mr. Wheeler and calling him “wacky” and a “dummy.”

“He would like to blame me and the Federal Government for going in, but he hasn’t seen anything yet,” the president wrote on Twitter.

Mr. Trump is planning to visit Kenosha on Tuesday, though both the governor of Wisconsin, Tony Evers, a Democrat, and the mayor of Kenosha, John Antaramian, also a Democrat, urged him to reconsider. “I am concerned your presence will only hinder our healing,” Mr. Evers said.

Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said: “The White House has been humbled by the outreach of individuals from Kenosha who have welcomed the president’s visit and are longing for leadership to support local law enforcement and businesses that have been vandalized. President Trump looks forward to visiting on Tuesday and helping this great city heal and rebuild.” 

The shooting in Portland ended a week of upheaval that began when a white police officer in Kenosha repeatedly shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, leaving him paralyzed below the waist, his family said. The shooting prompted a new wave of protests against racism and police brutality that included the postponement of professional sports games.

During the unrest after the shooting of Mr. Blake, Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old Illinois resident, was charged in connection with the fatal shootings of two protesters.
The escalating tensions and violence over the past week came three months after the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis. Mr. Floyd’s death prompted a national outcry over policing and racial injustice, spurring protests in cities across the country, some of which have been accompanied by looting and violence.

For now, the Biden campaign is trying to focus on what it says is the irony that Mr. Trump is the current president, yet is trying to blame his challenger for the scenes of violence during his tenure.

“He keeps talking about what Biden’s America would look like — well, this is Trump’s America,” Representative Cedric L. Richmond, Democrat of Louisiana and a national co-chair of the Biden campaign, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

But violence and unrest in the streets is an issue Mr. Trump is eager to embrace.
On “Meet the Press,” Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, described Mr. Trump as being “on the side of law enforcement and the rule of law” and spoke of violence in “Democrat cities.”
Mason Trinca for The New York Times
“Most of Donald Trump’s America is peaceful,” Mr. Meadows said. “It is a Democrat-led city in Portland that we’re talking about this morning who just yesterday denied help once again from the federal government.”

A video that purports to capture the Saturday night shooting in Portland, taken from the far side of the street, showed a small group of people in the road outside what appears to be a parking garage. Gunfire erupts, and a man collapses in the street.

The man who was shot and killed was wearing a hat with the insignia of Patriot Prayer, a far-right group based in the Portland area that has clashed with protesters in the past. Joey Gibson, the head of the group, said Sunday he could not share many details but could confirm the man was a good friend and supporter of Patriot Prayer.

During some of Portland’s nightly demonstrations since the killing of Mr. Floyd, protesters have smashed windows, lit fires and thrown fireworks at law enforcement officers who have struggled to maintain control. In recent days, right-wing demonstrations have also sprung up in the city, and Mr. Trump has repeatedly highlighted the unrest in Portland as evidence of the need for a tougher response to the chaotic protests in many American cities.

Patriot Prayer, which says it promotes Christianity and smaller government, has repeatedly clashed with activists in Portland. The group has sometimes operated alongside militia groups, and the Southern Poverty Law Center has reported that some Patriot Prayer events have drawn white supremacists. Last year, Mr. Gibson, the group’s leader, was charged along with others with rioting after a brawl in the city.
Mason Trinca for The New York Times
While protests in Portland have persisted, their size has changed over time. The nightly events began with mass demonstrations after Mr. Floyd’s death, then shrank to smaller numbers of people who repeatedly clashed with the police. In July, when the federal government sent camouflaged agents into the city, the number of protesters grew drastically once again.
In more recent days, the protest crowd has typically numbered just a few hundred people. On Friday, after a peaceful demonstration in front of Mayor Wheeler’s residence, a crowd went to a police association building, where some of the protesters set fire to the front of the building before the police dispersed the crowd.

The police have made dozens of arrests in recent days as they have chased protesters through the streets, at times knocking them to the ground. The police said they had made 10 arrests Saturday night, although it was not immediately clear how many were participants in the pro-Trump rally and how many were countering the event."

Portland Shooting Amplifies Tensions in Presidential Race

What Happened in Portland? Here’s What We Know A man was shot and killed after supporters of President Trump clashed with counterprotesters.

On Saturday night, a caravan of supporters of President Trump traveled through Portland, Ore., and clashed with counterprotesters. A man was shot and killed during the unrest.Photo by: ...Mason Trinca for The New York Times

“Portland, Ore., has had nightly protests since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

On Saturday night, a caravan of supporters of President Trump traveled through the city, clashing with counterprotesters. A man was shot and killed during the unrest.

Here’s what we know so far.

What happened in Portland?

Supporters of the president gathered on Saturday at a shopping center a few miles southeast of Portland. The caravan of hundreds of trucks then traveled into the city. Most were flying “Trump 2020” or thin blue lineflags, which are commonly associated with support for the police and often seen as antithetical to the Black Lives Matter movement.

The caravan clashed with counterprotesters at times. People shot paintball guns from trucks and protesters threw objects at them. Some conflicts devolved into fistfights in the streets. A video showed a small group in the street, where gunfire erupts and a man collapses.

Police Chief Chuck Lovell said the caravan stretched for miles and there were pockets of violence. The police tried to take precautionary measures to prevent vehicles from making their way downtown.

“We have limited resources,” Chief Lovell said at a news conference on Sunday. “We can’t be everywhere at the same time.”

Portland police officers heard reports of gunfire shortly before 9 p.m. local time and found a man with a gunshot wound to the chest, the police said.

Medical responders determined that the man was dead, the police said.

Officials asked people to not jump to conclusions about what happened and to stay away from Portland as some have expressed a desire to seek retribution.

Who was the man who died?

The man’s identity has not been released.

He was wearing a hat with the insignia of Patriot Prayer, a far-right group based in the Portland area. The group says it seeks to combat “corruption, big government and tyranny, using God for strength and the power of love,” according to its Facebook page, which has more than 40,000 followers.

A Patriot Prayer leader, Joey Gibson, said on Sunday that the man was a good friend and a supporter of the group, but he did not offer further details.

Do we know who the gunman was?

The police have not released information about who fired the shots.

Chief Lovell said on Sunday that the police were “working diligently to find and apprehend the individual or individuals responsible.”

The police said on Sunday that they had concluded an investigation of the shooting scene and asked witnesses or those with video of the episode to contact detectives.

What else has been happening in Portland?

Protests have occurred nightly in the city since the killing of George Floyd in May.

In recent weeks, right- and left-wing groups have clashed. On Aug. 22, a demonstration outside the U.S. courthouse in Portland turned violent as right-wing demonstrators, including Proud Boys members, clashed with Black Lives Matter protesters. Objects were thrown, paintballs were fired and shouting turned to shoving and punching.

The city is no stranger to demonstrations that devolve into chaos, often stoked by conflicts with the police or between opposing groups.

In 2016, protests over Mr. Trump’s election were marred by vandalism and fires. The unrest was labeled a riot by the police, who deployed pepper spray and rubber “distraction devices” against the crowd.

In August 2018, Mr. Gibson led a demonstration that drew hundreds of Patriot Prayer supporters, many from outside the state, The Oregonian reported. Counterprotesters were ordered by the police to disperse before officers deployed flash-bang grenades and shoved counterprotesters out of the street.

Last month, camouflaged federal agents were sent to the city, against the wishes of the local authorities.

What has President Trump said about the situation?

Mr. Trump has not spoken specifically about the shooting death in Portland, but on Sunday morning he retweeted a message that said Portland “needs to be federalized at this point.”

Mr. Trump added to the message: “The National Guard is Ready, Willing and Able. All the Governor has to do is call!”

In another tweet, Mr. Trump said the “big backlash going on in Portland cannot be unexpected.” He called Portland’s mayor, Ted Wheeler, “incompetent” and “a FOOL,” adding that “the people of Portland won’t put up with no safety any longer.”

On Sunday afternoon, the mayor sharply criticized Mr. Trump, saying the president wanted Mr. Wheeler to “stop the violence that you helped create.”

“Do you wonder, Mr. President, why this is the first time in decades that Americans have seen this level of violence?” Mr. Wheeler said. “It’s you who have created the hate and the division.”

Mr. Wheeler said the caravan was “supported and energized” by Mr. Trump.

“I’d appreciate that either the president support us or he stay the hell out of the way,” Mr. Wheeler said.

Christina Morales contributed reporting.“

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Black Homeowners Face Discrimination in Appraisals - The New York Times

"Companies that value homes for sale or refinancing are bound by law not to discriminate. Black homeowners say it happens anyway.
A second appraisal valued Abena and Alex Horton’s Jacksonville home 40 percent higher than the first appraisal, after Ms. Horton removed all signs of Blackness.
A second appraisal valued Abena and Alex Horton’s Jacksonville home 40 percent higher than the first appraisal, after Ms. Horton removed all signs of Blackness.
Abena and Alex Horton wanted to take advantage of low home-refinance rates brought on by the coronavirus crisis. So in June, they took the first step in that process, welcoming a home appraiser into their four-bedroom, four-bath ranch-style house in Jacksonville, Fla.
The Hortons live just minutes from the Ortega River, in a predominantly white neighborhood of 1950s homes that tend to sell for $350,000 to $550,000. They had expected their home to appraise for around $450,000, but the appraiser felt differently, assigning a value of $330,000. Ms. Horton, who is Black, immediately suspected discrimination.
The couple’s bank agreed that the value was off and ordered a second appraisal. But before the new appraiser could arrive, Ms. Horton, a lawyer, began an experiment: She took all family photos off the mantle. Instead, she hung up a series of oil paintings of Mr. Horton, who is white, and his grandparents that had been in storage. Books by Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison were taken off the shelves, and holiday photo cards sent by friends were edited so that only those showing white families were left on display. On the day of the appraisal, Ms. Horton took the couple’s 6-year-old son on a shopping trip to Target, and left Mr. Horton alone at home to answer the door.
The new appraiser gave their home a value of $465,000 — a more than 40 percent increase from the first appraisal.
Race and housing policy have long been intertwined in the United States. Black Americans consistently struggle more than their white counterparts to be approved for home loans, and the specter of redlining — a practice that denied mortgages to people of color in certain neighborhoods — continues to drive down home values in Black neighborhoods.
Even in mixed-race and predominantly white neighborhoods, Black homeowners say, their homes are consistently appraised for less than those of their neighbors, stymying their path toward building equity and further perpetuating income equality in the United States.
Home appraisers are bound by the Fair Housing Act of 1968 to not discriminate based on race, religion, national origin or gender. Appraisers can lose their license or even face prison time if they’re found to produce discriminatory appraisals. Title XI of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act, enacted in 1989, also binds appraisers to a standard of unbiased ethics and performance.
“My heart kind of broke,” Ms. Horton said. “I know what the issue was. And I knew what we needed to do to fix it, because in the Black community, it’s just common knowledge that you take your pictures down when you’re selling the house. But I didn’t think I had to worry about that with an appraisal.”
Appraisals, by nature, are subjective. And discrimination, particularly the subconscious biases and microaggressions that have risen to the fore in white America this summer following the death of George Floyd, is notoriously difficult to pinpoint.
Ms. Horton shared her experiment in a widely circulated Facebook post, earning 25,000 shares and more than 2,000 comments, many of which came from Black homeowners and carried the same message: This also happened to me.
In each comment, a repeated theme: Home appraisers, who work under codes of ethics but with little regulation and oversight, are often all that stands between the accumulation of home equity and the destruction of it for Black Americans.
Credit...Monica Jorge for The New York Times
After the first appraisal came up short on his house in an affluent, racially mixed suburb of Hartford, Conn., Stephen Richmond, an aerospace engineer, took down family photos and posters for Black movies and had a white neighbor stand in for him on a second appraisal. He was hoping to refinance; with the second report, he saw his home’s value go up $40,000 from the initial appraisal just a few weeks earlier.
In 2000, the American actor and comedian D.L. Hughley had an appraisal on his home in the Montevista Estates neighborhood of West Hills, a primarily white area in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. Despite a steady uptick in the housing market and the addition of a pool and new hardwood floors, the house was appraised for nearly what he had bought it for three years earlier — $500,000.
In Mr. Hughley’s case, his bank flagged the report.
“They were like, this has to be some kind of mistake because in order for your house to have come in this low, it would have to be in some level of disrepair,” Mr. Hughley said.
The bank ordered a new appraisal, which came back $160,000 higher, and Mr. Hughley went on to sell the home for $770,000.
Mr. Hughley talks about the experience in his book, “Surrender, White People!”, a satirical look at white supremacy, which was published in June by Harper Collins and examines racial inequality in the United States across education, health care and the housing market.
“People always tell us to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. But what if you remove the straps?” he said. “You’re invested in the American dream, you have capital, you have a chip in the game. And the fact that somebody could summarily minimize my wealth just because of a bias, it seemed crazy to me.”
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, a federal ruling issued in March allowed appraisals for homes that were being sold to be done remotely in certain circumstances, temporarily pausing the need for interior home inspections. Those looking to refinance, however, still must complete an in-person appraisal.
In Mr. Hughley’s case, the appraiser was fired. Ms. Horton has filed a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development; when contacted about her case, HUD said it had been assigned to the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission. The agency added that it receives a handful of similar complaints each year.
In 2018, researchers from Gallup and the Brookings Institution published a report on the widespread devaluation of Black-owned property in the United States, which they discussed in a 2019 hearing before the House Financial Services Subcommittee. The report found that a home in a majority Black neighborhood is likely to be valued for 23 percent less than a near-identical home in a majority-white neighborhood; it also determined this devaluation costs Black homeowners $156 billion in cumulative losses.
Many appraisers, both during the hearing and in the weeks after, defended their practice, noting that it’s their job to report on local market conditions, not set them.
“Is there a problem with poor and underserved communities in the United States? Yes. Is it the appraisal profession’s fault? No,” wrote Maureen Sweeney, a Chicago-based appraiser in a letter to the house subcommittee following the hearing. “It’s like blaming the canary for the bad air in the coal mine, or blaming the mirror for your bad hair day. Appraisers reflect the market; we do not create it.”
But what about a Black homeowner in a white neighborhood whose property is appraised for less than his neighbor’s? Whether appraisers are devaluing Black homes or entire Black neighborhoods, the core issue is the same, said Andre Perry, one of the writers of the Brookings Institution report and the author of “Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities.”
“We still see Black people as risky,” Mr. Perry said. “White appraisers carry the same attitudes and beliefs of white America — the same attitudes that compelled Derek Chauvin to kneel casually on the neck of George Floyd are shared by other professionals in other fields. How does that choking out of America look in the appraisal industry? Through very low appraisals,” he said."
Black Homeowners Face Discrimination in Appraisals - The New York Times