Tag Archives: property management

How not to be racist in America

It’s simple, really.  Don’t get involved with other races, ever.

The accusations against Donald Sterling have a particularly personal sting with me.  Not just because the whole town is ganging up on one guy, not just because he’s a fellow Jew, but because I too am in the property management business.

The epithet “evil Jewish slumlord” has been hurled at me quite regularly, generally as a joke, which gets an uneasy laugh out of me.  But underneath also a disturbing bit of entrenched anti-Semitism.

Not to divulge too many details about my dealings – but when you run properties, on any level, you piss people off.  It doesn’t matter how much you put yourself out for others.  You’re not Santa Claus or a miracle worker, you’re beholden to material laws, market forces and the banks.  And tenants tend to take out their aggressions on you for things you have no control over.

Sometimes, they take advantage of your legal liability, and threaten to sue you no matter how unfounded the charges.  Even on my minor level, it’s happened at least once (the threat quickly dropped once I accused the lawyer of extortion).

So I figure for a large landholder like Sterling, it gets that much worse.  And it gets even worse than that when you realize he’s lived his life surrounded by other races, holding property in racially and economically diverse neighborhoods.

I did the usual cursory Google research on his discrimination lawsuits, and pulled up this CNN article.  Not surprisingly, nobody ever won one of those lawsuits.  In a couple of the cases the charges were even dropped entirely, and yet today they’re being used in the case to strip him of his team.

You could make all sorts of arguments about this, that he’s a sneaky rich lawyer with lots of money, yadda yadda yadda.  But then you’re just making my point.  You wonder why poor neighborhoods are so run down?  You wonder why nobody invests in them?  You wonder why White Flight was a thing?  Here’s your answer.  Donald Sterling built his life on relatively poor neighborhoods.  And now he’s being eaten alive.

Who would want to invest there, in this kind of climate?  What kind of Santa Claus were you hoping for?  Did you want the government to come in and build stuff for free?  Do you want to be a photo-op for politicians who come and billoviate about the plight of the poor?  Because those same politicians just go back to the faceless corporate behemoths who take over these properties and sell them for scrap.

Why bother?  People attack Sterling, but the biggest racists in this country never actually get called racists.  You know, the really wealthy ones, who safely shield themselves from any kind of Black or Mexican, save for one or two tokens who dance to their tune.  It reminds me of Malcolm X’s preference of the Southern racist, who is open and actively deals with Blacks, over the Northern racist, who just says the flowery catchphrases while shielding their actual life from any contact with other races.

I fully realize this is a debate I’m not going to win.  The mob has the support of the town press, they will cry and howl and snowball rumors until the filthy Jew is run out of town on rails and they happily gorge on his expropriated property.  I just want to go on the record saying this will only make racial tensions, and class divisions, worse.