Let’s lay it out. Let’s just put it out there.
-There is a stereotype that says that Black people are bad with money.
-There is a stereotype that says that Black people are uneducated.
-The 2008 Recession was started (partially) by people getting home loans that they shouldn’t have had, using their homes like ATM machines, getting more than one house, and then losing their homes because they couldn’t pay their house notes.
The housing market is coming back, kind of. The latest issue of Businessweek discusses it. This is an important issue.
The cover? Above? Yeah. That’s the cover. Brown people grabbing money, money they got from mortgages. Mortgages they may or may not have supposed to have gotten.
I’m not the only one that’s upset about this. Matt Yglesias is concerned.
Bloomberg Businessweek is a genuinely great magazine that does an amazing job of making business and economics news accessible and interesting, but this way of illustrating a cover story about the return of aggressive mortgage lending products is really something else. The idea is that we can know things are really getting out of hand since even nonwhite people can get loans these days! They ought to be ashamed.
The Columbia Journalism Review is concerned.
In fact, though, the record is clear: minorities were disproportionately targeted by predatory lending, which has always gone hand in hand with subprime. Even when they qualified for prime loans that similar-circumstance whites got, they were pushed intohigher-interest subprimes. In other words, minority borrowers were disproportionately victimized in the bubble. ButBusinessWeek here has them on the cover bathing in housing-ATM cash, implying that they’re going to create another bubble. That’s not okay.
Suzy Khimm over at Wonkblog says it’s inaccurate.
What the story doesn’t address is how mortgage fraud, predatory lending and other abusive practices also fueled the original housing bubble and subsequent crisis, particularly in Arizona. In the lead-up to the crash, Arizona was among the states with the highest number of subprime mortgages — and the weakest anti-predatory lending laws — as many researchers have pointed out since then.
You should be concerned. Bloomberg Businessweek does real good work. I’ve read it for two years and I have a subscription. Their articles are smart, timely, well written and educated. This cover was a mistake and they should apologize and deal with the designer and editor(s) that allowed it to happen. More than that, we should remember that racism isn’t something that can be “over” or “cured.” It ebbs and flows, sometimes sharply and sometimes subtly. It’s important to remember and understand that.