Perhaps you've read about the St. Louis County grand jury's decision to not indict police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown. Maybe you don't know what to think, or you've already picked a side. Wherever you stand on this issue or any of the many issues facing African Americans, let's try an exercise in empathetic imagination.
The election of Barack Obama was the Lexington and Concord in the latest great battle of race in America. We are a nation at war with itself. For all of our desire to move beyond the narrow confines of many of the events of our tragic history, we cannot. The president's election gave new life to what had been lying dangerously dormant for the better part of 50 years.
The story that troubles me is what occurred under America's first African-American president, in our own time. I refer to the preventable catastrophe of the wipe-out of black home equity. Beginning in the 1970s, when the Federal government finally stopped colluding in racial redlining, black families at last got a reasonable shot at accumulating wealth via the dream of homeownership -- assets for one's old age and something to pass along to one's children. One of the most disgusting slanders by the right against low-income people and especially African Americans is the claim that the subprime collapse resulted from the government pressuring lenders to loan to unqualified borrowers. The vast majority of subprime loans were written by mortgage companies not even covered by federal law. Subprime was a scheme originated on Wall Street to profit from deceiving borrowers.