White Flight
Racism and the Mechanism that Causes Reduced Property Values
by Mark Liberator (e-mail: editor@liberator.net) [Updated April 24th, 2000]

-- Cicero is a town located immediately west of Chicago, Illinois. Like all collar communities near big cities across the United States, Cicero has a changing population. The once Bohemian and Polish residents are being slowly replaced by Latinos. Cicero is also receiving recent attention in the press regarding its long history of corruption.

     Allow me to explain my version of the truth concerning property values and some reasons why they are negatively impacted. The biggest problem is not with the influx of Latinos or minorities in general. How can that be true?

Most of the problem boils down to racism and ignorance, which of course go hand in hand.
     People like living within their own culture. People are culturally resistant. When someone of a different culture moves into a neighborhood, the earlier residents get anxious. They get anxious enough to lower their own property values in order to quickly sell their homes.

     If you ask these quick movers why they are cutting their own throats by lowering the value of their homes, they will tell you that their homes are worth less because of the Hispanics [or whatever minority is present]. "Who wants to live next to Mexicans?" will be the unfortunate, yet common response.

     Other residents might say that the value of their homes depend upon the location, which is true. However, home value is calculated by examining a history of selling values the area has produced. Those figures can be easily skewed by early white flight residents.

Realtors know of this strange behavior mechanism and use it to their benefit.
     They try to get the white flight started by moving minorities into predominantly monolithic neighborhoods. With many people fleeing a neighborhood, plenty of money in commission can be made.

     Maybe you don't agree with me. Maybe you think that Cicero used to be a perfect little community before those nasty Mexicans moved in. Let's take a look at the Grant Works area [NE side of town]. Even when it was predominantly white, it was certainly not a model neighborhood.

     As older whites died [Cicero is well known for its high number of old folk], surviving relatives commonly would sell their homes at low rates. Surviving relatives do not want to be burdened with second homes, especially when those homes are near people deemed to be second-class citizens.

As whites find excuses to lower their own property values, they conveniently use the Hispanic people as scapegoats.
     Racial bias plays a part in home values within certain areas. As minorities enter a neighborhood -- possibly initiated by devious realtors -- white flight causes the home values to depreciate, which in turn causes white flight to accelerate. It is an unpleasant mechanism that feeds on itself. The whites rather not acknowledge their own prejudices and point fingers at the incoming minorities. They rather externalize the problem, which is yet another contributing element of this mechanism.

Ignorance leads to hate and a continued downward spiral of property values.
     Sure Cicero has changed. Once while sitting on my front porch years ago, a black man ran by with a look of determination on his face. A few seconds later, three white guys carrying baseball bats ran by in hot pursuit. I wonder what ever happened to that man. When a black family was moved into Berwyn [one community west of Cicero], those people were practically burned out.] Today, many different minorities live in Cicero and Berwyn with very little racial tension, but the property values have suffered a considerable loss due to the racism-induced white flight.

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