LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Deconstructing Systemic Racism

A homeless woman sleeps on a bench in front of the Canadian Embassy. (Shevry Lassiter/The Washington Informer)
A homeless woman sleeps on a bench in front of the Canadian Embassy. (Shevry Lassiter/The Washington Informer)

Throughout much of the 20th century, the Federal Housing Authority’s Redlining Policy kept people of color out of the emerging suburbs while undermining growth in inner cities. Redlining yielded disastrous results. Today, African Americans experience homelessness at a much higher rate than other groups. Some figures estimate that African Americans make up 40 percent of the U.S. homeless population, despite being only 13 percent of the overall population. With real estate an important part of wealth accrual in this country, the impact of housing policies has been significant through generations, resulting in a disproportionate number of African Americans living in poverty. Redlining constitutes a form of social engineering that changed the social fabric of our society through the separation of neighborhoods. To end systemic racism, we need to understand our history better. We need to decrypt ideologies, make courageous moves and undo the injustices of the past.

Jean-Michel Giraud
President and CEO, Friendship Place

Fair Elections Reform Needed

The Prince George’s County Council recently introduced an important bill that would eliminate the influence of money in our local politics through a Fair Elections Fund. Currently, our county has many capable community leaders working to improve their communities for years and would make excellent candidates on the council. Often what stops these candidates from winning is the financial ability to fund their campaigns to compete with campaigns financed by wealthy donors. Election after election, this weakens the representation of every day residents in local government. The Fair Elections Fund corrects this disadvantage by amplifying humble constituent donations, giving community-based candidates equal footing with well-heeled candidates, and providing a realistic chance at winning elections. Residents of Prince George’s County are eager to regain the power to elect candidates who will authentically represent their communities on the council and are qualified to make decisions that create lasting impacts on future generations.

Diana Torres
Beltsville, Maryland

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