Click to go to the Subscriber Log In Page
Go to menu with buttons for all pages on BC
Click here to go to the Home Page
Est. April 5, 2002
July 09, 2020 - Issue 826
Bookmark and Share
This page can be shared

Fair Housing Is Not an Option.
It’s the Law!
No More Tolerating the Intolerable:
Housing in America is in Need of Radical Change!

"Blacks can’t complain. But whites can complain
about Blacks invading their neighborhood or store
or housing complex—daring to live in an apartment
on the other side of the living room wall."

This is the worst building I’ve ever lived in. A senior complex in the County of Kenosha, Wisconsin.

A thirty-something white woman doesn’t wear a mask is the manager. Why start with that description? Because in America, in the America all of America is waking up to since the ascendance of Trump to the presidency, not wearing a mask while the COVID-19 rages is to recognize someone who possesses freedom. Some months back when I asked her why she didn’t wear a mask she gave me her back, as she usually does. She can’t face me. No. So as she gave me her back with her blond hair swing behind her, she let me know she didn’t have to. She didn’t have to wear a mask. No.

Opened in August 2020, this building is an “investment.” The realty is the real estate prominent in the Racine, Burlington, Salem, Kenosha housing market. They offer market-rate and affordable apartments. Here, rent is based on your income.

Older tenants in Kenosha County tended to work at the old Chrysler or the Snap-On Incorporation—the same workplace Trump visited after he become president. On the other hand, I’m the only one out of academia. The only socialist. The only Black woman activist. Socialist, did I say, with one too many books and dreads. Long, non-styled dreads.

And did I say this is Trump-all-the-way or Trump-in-spirit. What’s the difference? Not much to me.

My income is fixed, social security. The former Gov. Scott Walker took care of the pensions for some of us who had much to lose. And we lost. I have cancer, and I’m in my 67th-year on an Earth that’s had enough of humanity. I’m being asked to vacate my apartment by the end of August. There are tenants, according to the notice, who are being disturbed by me. By my presence? By my dreads, my appearance?

No. None of the tenants in my immediate surroundings have complained. We have, however, complained about the one woman who moved here in December 2019. At least two nearby tenants complained about her before I did in March. But that’s truth and truth gets in the way of a perfectly good game of gaslighting.

Discrimination isn’t far from her mind, but she has to tread lightly. Hate can’t appear as hate. Make it appear as if the struggle is and has always been about white Americans keeping these Black people from destroying property, from disturbing the lifestyle of white neighbors who recognize now, after all this is Wisconsin, as in Wisconsin, let’s pretend-we-are-not-too-much-like-Mississippi.

It’s a matter of fact in this neck of Wisconsin where white residents in predominantly white buildings understand the rules—there’s a quote—not on the books, but in reality. So some Black people must live among the lilies of the fields. But these Blacks must understand they aren’t truly believe themselves freed to be. They should recall the days when the KKK kept things in check, when the rope, too, keep things in check. Only, no, there aren’t any ropes or KKK but rules and policies. Policies and rules. Notes and notices on doors of predominantly the hand full of Blacks.

These Blacks are to think about the old days of law and order. This isn’t Madison even where a good number of liberals working for neoliberal organizations today used to be activists before they were asked to clear the battlefield, move out, so the criminal justice system, exerting and expanding it’s reach and power, can herd the Blacks into shinny new prisons. The rest will take note and calm down. Join their white brethren in those neoliberal pursuits, chasing the money, for the cars, and homes, and high-tech gadgets.

Did I mention becoming familiar with “skunk weed”? What is that smell that wouldn’t allow me to sleep in my bedroom?

Oh, skunk weed.

Neighbors know and suspect the culprits, so I ask…

Has management been told?

Heads turn. A new subject is introduced.

Or just silence.

I’ve written on the real estate management here. That is, I’ve referred to the local manager in “From Gaslighting to Ethnic Cleansing: Small Predominately White Towns in the Midwest Play As Well As the Big Cities and Southern Towns,” published here at the Black Commentator.

The management! Present in the office maybe once a week. Maybe twice a week. She does post notes. She loves posting notes. We are after all seniors, many with great grandchildren… But, okay.

All the smokers say they’ve received personal notices for talking too loud or smoking too close to the building. White tenants received notices, but, as I said, with only six or seven Black residents out of 42, it’s been disproportionate among Black tenants.

Which should come as any surprise to anyone living in America.

An older Black woman in a wheelchair makes too much noise! And the traffic in her apartment. Traffic from nurses and family members—well, that’s too much! I don’t have people visiting me—during COVID-19, so the manager inferred that I could know anyone! What people? You keep saying, “people who know you.” What?


The Black woman who is mobile—in her wheelchair—receives a 5-day notice. No hearsay—I saw it! Another middle class Black woman living with her mother receives a notice—for a car that she didn’t own.

I never received a notice, but now it seems I’ve been disturbing my neighbors. Or is it a matter of responding to the racist harassment of a next door neighbor who uses her stereo and possibly a gaming devise that reverberates, making the chair I sit on feel as if I had a speaker underneath it, blasting a punk rock song, repeatedly. My head aches from the pressure of the high frequency and my legs are sometimes feel numb. And I suffer already from neuropathy. And there’s more. Even more vile. Insidious. Pleasurable for this lonely but no less racist woman. Since the COVID-19 lockdown didn’t help her. I’ve written about the necessity to have an alternative to police in response to someone possibly experiencing a mental crisis in (“Can the Police Protect Black Americans?”).

Blacks can’t complain. But whites can complain about Blacks invading their neighborhood or store or housing complex—daring to live in an apartment on the other side of the living room wall.

I do wonder if the management didn’t use this woman’s crisis as a means of ridding the building of it’s greatest threat? Because who wants an educated mass of tenants?

Fear drove her to miscalculate the social milieu here in small town Wisconsin. Young docile bodies move from the workplace to the home as dependable clogs in the machine. Becoming ultimately dependable full-time consumers in their senior years. They don’t, as we say, rock the boat!

It’s not just that the manager defends the lies of the white neighbor, it’s that in doing so, she’s willing to lie with impunity for the sake of holding up the banner of white supremacy. She doesn’t need to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the KKK, no. But her indifference, heartlessness, is the manifestation of her willingness to link her own personal narrative with that of white supremacy.

It’s to her advantage, isn’t it? She may not care on bit about this neighbor, but someone who wants to climb the corporate ladder understands the rungs lifter her above the rank and file. And that meant, first and foremost, rising to a position in which she takes her place in maintaining the chokehold around the necks of Black Americans.

You think she’s attacking you because your Black?

First, I didn’t say the neighbor was “attacking” me. Here the effort to materialize the racist narrative she’s conceived? The question references how her racist narrative belittles the history of white supremacy, belittles the Black experience in the US, and belittles my experience as a Black woman living in a building she is supposed to be qualified to manage!

A real estate management is only as good as the individuals it hires. If that individual manager is willing to lie blatantly, willing to proclaiming a white supremacist narrative in which Blacks are dirty, loud, disruptive of the peace, then what are we to think of a real estate management?

Do I hear the response…?

I never had a chance to live free of white supremacy here. It’s built in the very structure, the foundation, the siding, ceilings, walls…

We are not freeing you to do a damn thing. No freedom for you, whoever you think you are!

Somethings never change. Ethnic cleansing never changes. It just dresses well. Works in shiny new buildings. Has a shiny new state-of-the-art phone that does it all. Makes them feel even more empowered when it rings and they put it to their ear.

It’s the look of the inhumane. The absence of compassion. Understanding. Neither can play a role in capitalism. And she wants to be a capitalist. They all do. She wants to see the money flow for her management teammates, for the realty. So she can’t recognize my humanity. Capitalism won’t allow for such a breach in protocol. It’s not good for business. And business comes first. And last. Always.

The manager mirrors, in the end, the movement of capitalism in that she doesn’t want to know of the damage she causes in other’s lives. She looks away, fashionably, so as to speak in the false speak of the happy. Hi! Good morning! Lovely day!

Think of self is to think of the business, the goal of growth. Ever more growth. Is there ever an understanding of what this growth is in relation to what is lost in the world when one partners up with the mindless.

There’s always the danger that she’ll slip and be human long enough to recognize my humanity.

She doesn’t care where I land.

The Fair Housing Act, passed in 1968. President Lyndon Johnson signs it. Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. has been assassinated, of course. Always a sacrifice of Black bodies to right wrongs…

And now it’s George Floyd. 2020.

“This moment is also about housing. Because housing is health. Housing is life,” says Caroll Fife, Director of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.

Someone suggested I contact Fair Housing. Contact the Equal Rights Division, contact, contact, file a complaint and wait. And wait. Then the decision. It’s like waiting to see if the police will be charged and serve time. Or will they hear. Acquittal. You’ve been acquitted!

I certainly don’t have a lifetime to wait on something from institutions that, as Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor showed in her study of the history of a profitable liaison between the real estate and the banking industry, my complaint won’t matter. So many such complaints are meant to fall under the radar so real change, effective change, transformative change, never happens! After all, who established the bar? To prove discrimination and racism in this country requires you give up your first born.

And I don’t have a first born!

Housing discrimination was not going to end on an individual level,” writes Taylor about about the way in which these complaints of discrimination ended up failing to weed out “the deeply ingrained and institutional nature of housing discrimination.”

In other words, it started as a broken system and it still is a broken system. I don’t have faith in a system in which I have to spin the wheel and hope for the best! That’s not a system that cares one bit about me or anyone. It’s about the maintenance of the system as it is—as it’s broken!

That’s insanity!

Any accountability demanded of real estate agencies or managements. There isn’t any recourse to fairness!

Something radically different is necessary. How many Americans are facing evictions with no income? How many seniors, mothers with children, college students? How many will end up homeless? Or on someone’s couch, as I was several times in my life—and I had a doctorate! Some people have family they can move in on and the move is relatively cheap, a few beers and some pizzas. And the new location has a spare bedroom.

But there’s a reality that is endemic of the last fifty years, and many of us find ourselves with family—in theory.

And then where is the safety net when we encounter the likes of managers for whom the capitalist model is god?

No more tolerance of the truly intolerable! Housing for all. Decency and affordable housing for all! And what that revolutionary change would mean depends on what the marginalized majority (not “minority,” as in minority races) decide. In other words, the gathering of the majority of the world putting forth their narrative of struggle will ultimately defeat the profiteering ideology of white supremacy.

Watch it! Join it!

This is housing’s moment! Editorial Board member and Columnist, Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD, has a Doctorate in Modern American Literature/Cultural Theory. Contact Dr. Daniels and BC.
Bookmark and Share
This page can be shared




is published every Thursday
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
Peter Gamble

Ferguson is America: Roots of Rebellion by Jamala Rogers