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Defining Racial Justice Terms: Redlining

YWCA Central Carolinas has proudly done Racial Justice & Advocacy work in the Charlotte community for 118 years and counting! With our programs, events and advocacy there’s a lot of terminology thrown around and we want to make sure that all YWCA supporters know what they mean!

Today’s term is redlining, which is an unethical practice that puts services (financial and otherwise) out of reach for residents of certain areas based on race or ethnicity. In a NPR interview with Richard Rothstein, author of The Color of Law, says that the term “comes from the development by the New Deal, by the federal government of maps of every metropolitan area in the country. And those maps were color-coded by first the Home Owners Loan Corp. and then the Federal Housing Administration and then adopted by the Veterans Administration, and these color codes were designed to indicate where it was safe to insure mortgages. And anywhere where African-Americans lived, anywhere where African-Americans lived nearby were colored red to indicate to appraisers that these neighborhoods were too risky to insure mortgages.”

Redlining has been carried out in cities big and small throughout the US, with the help of local realtors and appraisers. You can learn about the history of redlining in NPR’s ‘Interactive Redlining Map Zooms In On America’s History Of Discrimination.’

To learn more about the cultural, political, societal and structural impacts redlining has had in the US, you can read Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law, available at Park Road Books (Charlotte’s independent book shop!).