That time when blacks moved into Rosedale and white people couldn’t stand it (Video)

Nii Ntreh May 15, 2020
White resentment towards black people moving into the 1970s suburb of Rosedale was captured in a famous documentary that has become topical in debates on redlining. Photo Credit: YouTube

The George Nolfi-directed drama The Banker was released only two months ago to positive critical reception on a few online fan-adjudicating platforms. Perhaps, its stars Samuel L. Jackson and Anthony Mackie had something to do with that, with the duo’s on-screen chemistry praised by acclaimed critics.

The Banker tells the story of Bernard Garrett, a black businessman in downtown Los Angeles who clandestinely purchased a lot of commercial and residential properties by having a white man front as the true owner of the properties.

The reason was simple and perhaps, obvious to any African-American reading. Lenders in America’s financial institutions would rather the owners of landed properties in certain areas be white.

Redlining, as it is known, is a calculated and systemic ill whereby necessary services and products are denied to members black and other minority neighborhoods and communities.

These services could be those supposed to be rendered by the federal or local government. In the private sector, banks and insurance companies were known to raise the conditional bar for assisting African-Americans or simply deny aid altogether.

Withholding home loans became an effective cudgel wielded by the white chiefs in the financial to deny black people from moving into predominantly white areas.

Garrett literally had to employ white faces who acted as the bosses of his investment and saw to the daily operations of their businesses. Meanwhile Garrett, and his friend Joe Morris, played by Jackson, sometimes posed as janitors and chauffeurs just to monitor their businesses and offer advice.

In the middle of the 1970s, the Spencers, a middle-class black family, managed to buy a home with six rooms in a neighborhood in the predominantly white suburb of Rosedale, Queens in New York. But even before the Spencers could move into their home, it was suspiciously burned.

The Spencers still moved into their home. But if they could not get the alleged arson’s memo, the Spencers were told to their face that they were not welcomed.

Black people were apparently not welcomed in Rosedale, whose white population were mainly descendants of Irish, who were once persecuted on the British Isles because of their Catholicism; Italians who had ran from hunger and pestilence and ethnic Jews who were the awful obsession of white ethno-nationalists in Europe.

What happened to the Spencers has been popularized on social media in short video clips culled from a Bill Moyers’ 1976 documentary, Rosedale: The Way It Is. One is obviously encouraged to watch the whole production for a deeper understanding and better context.

Moyers in the documentary noted in an interview with a white resident of Rosedale, Joes Soltiz, a very revealing characteristic of post-Jim Crow racial segregation.

Moyers said that “before the Spencer’s arrived in Rosedale, there were fewer than 20 homes for sale. We’re told there are now over 200 [after the black family came, the white people left]”.

This was after Soltiz had said:

“[We] are gonna keep Rosedale just the way it is: a beautiful, white, ethnic community. And when I say ethnic, we’ve got it, every majority. And I don’t think it’ll change. They’re tryin’ — they’re tryin’ like hell to knock us out. They over-publicize a heck of a lot of things. Things that happen in Springfield Gardens they call Rosedale; just, you know, to put the spotlight on Rosedale maybe to scare people. But it’s not working. Nobody’s runnin’, nobody is ‘runnin’.

Indeed, Soltiz in Rosedale was the voice of a lot in White America. He maintained that not allowing black people to move into a predominantly white neighborhood was not “discrimination of bigotry” – because black people had destroyed so much where he used to live that he is “ashamed to go back”.

“…It’s a fact, because, blacks, you … well, put it this way: you can’t take them on an individual basis. In cases like this you have to take them on that happens as a whole,” Soltiz added.

America, at least most in conservative white America, often pats itself on how far it has come in race relations. But research from as recent as the beginning of this century says that redlining has spilled over into various aspects of life including healthcare.

The road that lies ahead does not seem as short as many would believe. But due acknowledgement of this provable fact seems too much for many.

Last Edited by:Kent Mensah Updated: May 15, 2020


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