God glories in different races. He clearly loves variety. Mankind, through time and presently, however, struggles with being his brother’s keeper—especially when his brother looks different than him. Sadly, the evil influences of greed and power drive men with better armament to exploit those whom they consider weaker, inferior or both. In America, whites first found enmity with Native Americans and later grew to want all the first Americans claimed as their own. As whites took more land from Native Americans they also enslaved Africans to do the hard labor found in farming. The Civil War ensued and though the Union prevailed on the battlefield, outward racism continued to reign in American life more than a century after General Lee surrendered the South back into the United States.
Now, with an African American president some declare American racism a past problem essentially cured. But they must be sleeping through this presidency. Protest signs brandished by whites outside the president’s home declaring, “Get out of our house!” signal clearly to those with any depth perception that racial prejudice infuses such invective. And the continued staggering difference in racial economic power 145 years after slavery ended, clearly supports those who argue racism simply now resides underground buried in business and institutional policies that adversely impact people of color.
Yet there are rules to reign in policies that disparately impact racial minorities. The Federal Housing Act and the Civil Rights Act both provide tools to tackle practices that adversely and unfairly impact minorities. And both these federal laws can stop business owners, large and small, from engaging in practices and policies that look neutral on the surface but promote inequity down deep.
While most Americans agree that no one should be discriminated against based on skin color, many don’t realize that current business policies can and do adversely impact minorities. For example, when lenders use secret credit scoring algorithms that include zip code information to price credit based, not solely on the credit worthiness of the applicant, but instead on the general credit and economic standing of a given neighborhood, minorities with credit histories the equal of their non-minority counterparts will inevitably end up with higher interest rates on their loans. And because they do not know what interest rate the lender quoted a non-minority applicant with a similar credit history, minorities don’t knowingly feel the effect of such discrimination.
Yet this practice appears to go on in many lending and insurance sectors. How can African American and Mexican American citizens discover whether they have suffered from racially discriminatory lending practices? Find a reputable lawyer who handles class actions and is willing to give you (literally…this shouldn’t cost a thing) some of their time to hear your story, review your lending documents and determine whether your circumstances fit the pattern of illegal credit scoring.
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