“When terrorism ultimately failed, white homeowners simply fled the neighborhood. The traditional terminology, white flight, implies a kind of natural expression of preference. In fact, white flight was a triumph of social engineering, orchestrated by the shared racist presumptions of America’s public and private sectors. For should any nonracist white families decide that integration might not be so bad as a matter of principle or practicality, they still had to contend with the hard facts of American housing policy: When the mid-20th-century white homeowner claimed that the presence of [African-American couple] Bill and Daisy Myers decreased his property value, he was not merely engaging in racist dogma—he was accurately observing the impact of federal policy on market prices. Redlining destroyed the possibility of investment wherever black people lived” (Coates par. 88).
Four-Part Paraphrase and Clarification for Passage 1
The main idea of the passage is that American housing policy is a part of the institutionalized racism, which directly affect African Americans in their capability to become prosperous homeowners. African American individuals are not merely discriminated against by individuals or certain groups of citizens. The problem lay within the system of housing, which is designed to diminish the ability of Black people to purchase houses and retain their value. For example, a Caucasian neighbor of Bill and Daisy Myers complained that their presence in the neighborhood decreased the value of his property. The complainant might not have been directly racist towards the couple, but rather observed the real implication of having African American individuals as his neighbors, which severely affected the value of his property. This is an illustration of how a person that does not uphold racist views might be forced to act as such due to the housing system promoting discrimination. In other words, this type of institutionalized racism makes regular citizens behave in a highly discriminatory way towards the oppressed group, such as African American families.
“We’ve left untouched the biggest segregation of all… and that is that every metropolitan area in this country is residentially segregated…and all of us accept this as part of the natural environment. It’s not that we think it’s a good thing. We say, ‘it’s too bad.’ But we think it’s sort of natural, normal, something we accept… And so, in order to rationalize to ourselves our failure to undo it, we’ve adopted a national myth. And that myth is pervasive across the political spectrum. Liberals and conservatives hold it. Blacks and Whites hold it. The name of that myth is … de facto segregation. Not something that was created by government, like all the other segregations that we undid in the 30s, 40s, 50s, or 60s, but this is something that sort of just happened by accident… it happened because people like to live together with each other of the same race. Or it happened because private actors, whether they were real estate agents, or bankers, or private citizens, discriminated in how they sold or rented homes. Or it happened because African Americans happen to be poorer than Whites on average and therefore they can’t afford to move to middle-class communities. De facto segregation is an utter myth… The racial segregation in every metropolitan area in this country was created by racially explicit government policy designed to create racial boundaries, designed to ensure that African Americans and Whites could not live near one another, with policies so powerful that they still determine the racial landscape that we see in cities all over the country” (NowThis News 00:00:00-00:02:07).
Four-Part Paraphrase and Clarification for Passage 2
The key idea of the passage is that de facto segregation of White and Black communities in residential areas is a myth, which was deliberately designed by government imposing policies. In other words, de facto segregation is based on the falsely accepted notion that African Americans and Whites are not willing to live with each other, and that is why residential districts are highly segregated. However, one should be aware that there are strong barriers that do not allow the oppressed group to move into communities occupied by White people. These hindrances are manifested in the fact that Black people generally poorer than Whites, and policies incentivize the establishment of segregation. For example, a wide range of segregations was eliminated through the 1930s to 1960s, but the majority accepts that de facto segregation is the result of random accidents. This illustrates that there is a collective ignorance on the issue, and people are not willing to dig deeper in order to identify the real underlying causes of the problem. Therefore, one should accept the preconceived notion that African American people do not wish to live in White communities.
“Most of the novice [writer’s] difficulties start with the simple fact that… he readily forgets– unlike the veteran — that another human being will eventually be trying to make sense of what he’s saying. The result? His natural tendency as a writer is to think primarily of himself– hence to write primarily for himself. Here, in a nutshell, lies the ultimate reason for most bad writing. He isn’t aware of his egocentrism, of course, but all the symptoms of his root problem are there: he thinks through an idea only until it is passably clear to him, since, for his purposes, it needn’t be any clearer; he dispenses with transitions because it’s enough that he knows how his ideas connect; he uses a private system — or no system– of punctuation; he doesn’t trouble to define his terms because he understands perfectly well what he means by them; he writes page after page without bothering to vary his sentence structure… he paragraphs only when the mood strikes him; he ends abruptly when he decides he’s had enough… Given his total self-orientation, it’s no wonder that he fails repeatedly as a writer. Actually he’s not writing at all; he’s merely communing privately with himself — that is, he’s simply putting thoughts down on paper… The big breakthrough for the novice writer, then, will occur the moment he begins to comprehend the social implications of what he’s doing. Far from writing in a vacuum, he is conversing, in a very real sense, with another human being, just as I am conversing right now with you, even though that person — like you– may be hours, days, or even years away in time. This breakthrough parallels an infant’s dawning realization that a world exists beyond himself” (Trimble 15).
Four-Part Paraphrase and Clarification for Passage 3
The main idea of the passage is that novice writers are prone to the mistake of self-orientation, which is an approach where a writer does not write for a reader, but simply converse with himself or herself. In any form of the writing process, an author needs to fully realize that his or her writing will be read by a person who might not be familiar with ideas or concepts that the writer takes as common knowledge. Such a self-oriented attitude is the factor that separates a novice writer from a veteran writer. The latter makes a great deal of effort to explain and elaborate on every point that might cause confusion or misunderstanding. He or she is aware of the fact that a potential reader might or might not be able to comprehend the main message. For example, a veteran writer is eager to revise his sentence structure in order to make it more understandable, whereas a novice one will disregard it due to self-orientation. This illustrates that the overall intention and the sense of realization of a veteran writer are more developed and mature because he or she understands that the writing is done for a reader and not for himself or herself.
Coates, Ta-Nehisi. “The Case for Reparations.” The Atlantic, 2014, Web.
“The Segregation Myth: Richard Rothstein Debunks an American Lie.” YouTube, uploaded by NowThis News, 2020, Web.
Trimble, John R. Writing with Style. Pearson, 2010.