The White Imagination and Housing For Black Folx
Let’s stop fooling ourselves about Black house hunting experiences
This quote from DL Hughley resonated with me.
The most dangerous place for black people to live is in white people’s imagination
- DL Hughley
He was talking mainly about the risk of Black people getting shot in America, both by law enforcement and other white people, but it also applies to other situations and other places.
The truth is that as a Black person you don’t have to do anything for white people to feel a way about you. I’ve mentioned many times my first experience of being called the N-word when a white guy assumed I was up to no good - in Trinidad, one of the world’s most multicultural places. That has stayed with me.
Housing Discrimination in France
But when I thought of Hughley’s quote, I remembered my time in France. My white roommate had made the arrangements for our flat (she later turned out to be problematic in her own way, but that’s another story), and it was time for us to go to our ancient French landlady and pay our rent. This we did and one of the first things that landlady said to me was “if I’d known you were Black I wouldn’t have rented to you”.
I was astounded, because she couldn’t possibly have known anything about me that would justify that remark. She said that based on half-formed ideas about what Black people were, and assumed that I would be found wanting.
That said, at least she didn’t evict us, so I suppose I should be grateful that her bigotry crumbled a little in the face of the hard cash of rent money, which was always paid on time.