Wednesday, July 4, 2018
The unfulfilled promise of the G. I. Bill - It wasn't for EVERY returning soldier
My maternal grandmother had 12 children. A quarter of them went into various branches of the armed services. So, they thought I would have been interested in "serving." Um, er, nope. Big nope. Even with the benefits. Which I found out were not all that great. Two of my uncles who dodged bullets in battle in WWII were DENIED use of the G.I. Bill. A little thing full of loopholes that benefitted White G.I.s How do you think all those returning soldiers were able to go to school AND buy that split-level in one of those new 'burbs that were cropping up? Not all from hard labor. The burgeoning middle-class was made possible due to the GOV'T PROGRAMS with low interest rates made available to WHITE G.I.s only. A sort of affirmative action shall we say? Black G.I.s were systemically cut out on purpose. You want proof? Go read THE COLOR OF LAW by RICHARD ROTHSTEIN. Great book. He puts it down in print that the discrimination practiced in housing was supported and FUNDED by the U. S. GOV'T.
Why am I not surprised? No one does subterfuge better.
Those brand-spanking new suburbs that popped up just outside big cities were the result of "White Flight" and the G.I. BILL. The sub-divisions were advertised in such a way to assure Whites that no Blacks would be moving in. In fact, any Black person, no matter how well-situated he was to purchase a home in one of these wastelands (yes, I call them that. Any time one needs a car to get to a Dunkin Donuts, it's a wasteland as far as I'm concerned. Why do you think so many suburbanites today fleeing BACK to the city? GENTRIFICATION. But I digress. That's a post for another day.), was not allowed to buy.. Usually through red tape that was so ridiculous that it discouraged the Black buyer from even applying for a loan. And that's if he made it that far..
One of my WWII Vet uncle's who'd married in 1948, had a baby two years later and who'd wanted to take advantage of the G.I. Bill, couldn't due to the aforementioned crap. He had to wait until he and his wife had saved CASH for their split-level in a mostly Black sub-division. The price tag was $17, 500. Not that much in today's dollars but the price in cash was a hill they had rather not had to climb. Their daughter was a PRE-TEEN by the time they'd saved enough to buy their house. Both of them had worked TWO JOBS each for THIRTEEN FRIGGIN' YEARS.
That's not right!
Don't tell me "Well done." Screw "Well done." Why wasn't he afforded the same "in" his White counterparts had been? It would have shaved years off my uncle and aunt's grueling, backbreaking journey to home ownership.
Oh, some did manage to "get in" a house sooner and and immediately regretted it. The houses were in all-White enclaves. Usually, a White guy who had served with a Black guy in WWII or The Korean Conflict, had become friends . The White guy living in the 'burbs was ready to implement the next stage in his 5 year plan. Meaning? He was set to move into a bigger house because he had sizeable equity and it was time to move on up. He had a ready buyer in his friend. Except due to having signed on the dotted line that he (the White guy) would not sell to anyone non-White, the sale would have to be a "straw" one. Think sale by proxy. No one in the neighborhood would know that good ole Ted was moving (because he and his family would move out under cover of night) until they saw Leroy moving in. Then all hell would break loose.
Read about how the sub-divisions named "Levittown" around the country exploded into ugly, dangerous showdown towns reminiscent of a cross between KKK rallies and lynchings.
Not America's finest hours.
The Levittown, PA sub-division near me erupted in serious hate crime mode in 1958. It was before my time but it was seared into the memories of my family members as every terrifying thing that happened to the one Black family who'd moved there was in print everyday for all to see.
Fire-bombings. Crowds out front of their house chanting N-this and N-that. Rocks sailing through windows at all hours. Yet, these were the kinds of people the current president would call "very fine." I bet not a one, if they are still drawing a bigoted breath (and I am sure their wrinkled asses are alive), thinks they did anything wrong.
But, hey, I am certain "very fine" people, just like politicians and whores, get respectable with age.
So, no, I was never patriotic enough, or naive enough or able to swallow bs without getting sick, to have joined the armed forces. I was, am , not that girl. But to non-White citizens who could and can, I commend you.