Housing Discrimination and Racism in Mid-Century America

2 min read There’s a dark side to the MCM era that we love … it was also an era of overt housing discrimination which cut Black Americans out of decades of post war prosperity building. Let’s talk about that today.

This isn’t the episode I was planning to record this week but I hope you’ll stick around to think about how the history of housing discrimination in America affects the mid-century houses we love and the world we all live in.

If your parents or grandparents bought a house in America during the post war boom years … they and you benefited from a system of racial oppression that encouraged white wealth building through home ownership with one hand … and held back black families with the other. 

Mine did and I do.  

So … I’m using this week’s podcast to talk about how systemic racism was literally built right into the Mid-Century neighborhoods that I otherwise love. We all need to acknowledge that part of our history and start talking more about what we can do to make positive, anti-racist changes in our own lives and communities.

In today’s episode you’ll hear …

  • Why I think it is important to stop what I’m doing and address the systemic racism that is embedded in American culture and in the history of the Mid-Century era I otherwise love so much.
  • How the wealth gap between black and white families in America holds people back [4:28]
  • A quick history of the Great Migration that Black Americans undertook to escape Jim Crow … [5:15]
  • … But how what they found here in the North was systematic Housing Discrimination and how that worked against black homeownership in many ways [6:05]
  • How the Fair Housing Act (1968) didn’t really fix things … it couldn’t. [8:35]
  • And how blue states like mine and liberal cities like Madison use subtle racism to keep black and white families segregated to this day [9:42]
  • A few ideas about what we can to today to be more anti-racist in our lives and our homes: work on self-education, offer support to demonstrators, call representatives, VOTE … and encourage density and mixed use development with affordable housing IN OUR OWN COMMUNITIES [11:38]

Listen now on

Apple | Google |  Spotify | Stitcher

Resources to help you understand housing discrimination Mentioned in this Episode