In November 2020, Port Of Harlem will celebrate 25 years of publication. As we count down to our birthday, we will republish some of our most popular articles from our print issues. Thanks for subscribing and inviting others to join you in supporting our inclusive, diverse, pan-African publication - - now completely online. We originally published this article in the Aug 2004 - Oct 2005 print issue.
In 1978, when Donna Beck moved to Prince George’s County, Maryland, a Washington, D.C. suburb, her Upper Marlboro neighborhood was all White. It is now about 80 percent Black. “Once the first White family sold their house to a Black, the exodus began,” she recalls.
When White home buyers rule out buying into neighborhoods, such as Beck’s that they perceive as Black or becoming Black, their consumer actions reduce the demand for housing and price competition in those communities. The results are depressed home values and an increase in the segregation tax in Black communities says international urban policy consultant David Rusk.
Segregation tax or the cost of racial segregation is a term Rusk uses to describe the difference between “home value per dollar of household income” for household’s headed by people of difference races. Using 1990 Census data, Rusk found that nationally Black homeowners paid an 18 percent segregation tax, with the tax being highest in the most segregated metropolitan areas such as Detroit, Michigan and Gary-Hammond, Indiana.