The Oregonian has a tradition, each year, of bellyaching about racism in the Portland rental market. I’ve written about this before, but with their latest installment of lies and deception, I feel they must be answered.
This year’s drivel, titled “Fair housing action fails to match bold words” appeared May 8th, and starts (on the front page):
Portland leaders pledged bold action and clear results in 2011 after undercover testing suggested that African American and Latino renters face frequent discrimination.
Yet four years later, with a new report on the persistence of bias, City Hall has offered more shrug than shriek.
Results of new testing, released in April, show landlords gave whites preferential treatment over black and Latino testers in 12 of 25 cases, or 48 percent. That compares with 64 percent of 50 cases four years ago. The samples are too small for meaningful comparisons or conclusions, and they don’t prove discrimination occurred.
The article continues (on page A11), under the subheading “Housing” and “All this rhetoric about equity”:
Portland, with high rents and rock-bottom vacancy rates, can be an unkind place for anyone seeking housing. But residents of color are hit hardest, as another city report on housing, released in mid-April, illustrates.
White residents earning the median income for their group can afford to rent in wide swaths of the city, according to the city Housing Bureau’s “State of Housing in Portland” analysis. But Latinos earning the median for their group have only a few pockets of affordability. African Americans at their median are priced out entirely.
On top of that, the new testing results add another uncomfortable reality for America’s whitest big city: more-subtle barriers because of skin-color.
I have a hunch that if the Oregonian did anonymous interviews with landlords, they’d discover that their aversion to black/Hispanic tenants has nothing to do with skin-color. Maybe, in their minds, such an interview would look something like this:
The Oregonian: So Mr. Landlord, you were caught discriminating against African American/Hispanic tenants. You can’t deny it; you were caught red-handed. How would you defend yourself? Why do you discriminate against African-Americans and Hispanics?
Anonymous landlord: I’m so ashamed of what I did… I’ve been thinking of taking my own life! My own family has disowned me, and I’m now a pariah in my own community (muffled sobs). Why did I do it? It’s their skin-color… Yes, I realize that African-Americans/Hispanics are just like me in every way – except for that damn skin-color. Every time I see that color, it makes me angry, so that I want to curse and break things. Not only that, but it clashes with the color scheme of the apartments.
No folks, race and color are NOT synonymous. I’ve already written about this here and here. But the Oregonian knows that if they repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it. Recently, while at work, a young coworker blurted out that race is just “skin-color.” I instantly corrected him, and told him there are many racial differences besides skin-color. Is what I said “work-safe?” It’s hard to see how one can get in trouble for simply stating an obvious scientific fact, without any malice. We’ve got to use the freedom of speech we have left, if we’re to maintain it at all. It’s our responsibility to educate ignorant people whenever the opportunity arises.
Should we generalize about racial groups? Some people might call this “stereotyping.” The Oregonian has no problem categorizing blacks and Hispanics as “victims” due to the fact that their median incomes are lower than that of whites. Landlords apparently do the same regarding crime rates. Blacks and Hispanics have much higher crime rates than whites or Asians. We don’t hear about housing discrimination against Asians. Why is this? Obviously, it’s because Asians have even lower crime rates than whites – so there’s no reason to discriminate against them. Blacks and Hispanics also tend to have lower credit scores than do whites and Asians.
Due to “affirmative action” policies, some blacks and Hispanics, who would not otherwise be “middle class,” are now counted among America’s middle class – but, since they were artificially placed there (through discriminatory policies/ affirmative action), culturally speaking, they have not acquired middle class values. So, even though their income is high enough to afford better apartments, they’re more likely to trash said apartments.
There was a time in my life when I was a landlord. I had troublesome tenants of all races, but the track record for blacks and Hispanics was noticeably worse. For the record, I never had a problem with their skin-color. There can be little doubt that my own experiences are shared by Portland area landlords as well – but the keepers of Leftist orthodoxy are not willing to speak to them.
In real life, we must learn to recognize patterns in order to survive. The very fact that we are here today is testimony to the fact that our ancestors mastered this skill. Every time a landlord is confronted with a prospective tenant, he must navigate a sea of unknowns. He can conduct background checks, contact references and confirm work histories – but these can only help minimize the unknowns; they don’t eliminate them entirely. He can never know, in advance, if this prospective tenant is a drug-user, if he’s prone to fits of violence, if he listens to loud music, leaves crumbs all over the house or has unsavory friends. A landlord has little choice but to play the odds – and these odds are better if he sticks with white and Asian tenants.
If the Oregonian can generalize about whites, blacks and Hispanics regarding income, then landlords can certainly generalize when it comes to overall criminality and responsibility.
When it comes to picking tenants, landlords have a lot at stake, but words are cheap for the Oregonian. Their campaigning will end up costing other people a lot of money, and possibly even their lives. Even as landlords suffer bankruptcy, or must bury their loved ones, the Oregonian staff will pat itself on its collective back for fighting for “social justice.”