Institutional Racism Series: How it Affected Where I Live

All things considered, I am tremendously blessed to live where I do. While I have some small complaints, such as occasional noise issues or the yard being too small, I also have great neighbors, a variety of transit options, restaurants I enjoy, and a relatively safe neighborhood. Needless to say, when I talk about how institutional racism has affected where I live, I am discussing this from a position of privilege.

Indeed, institutional racism, which I defined in a previous post as racism that is practiced and sometimes even normalized by social, economic, governmental, and other institutions, helped my family afford to live where we ended up, and also resulted in my family living where we did (instead of somewhere else).

To understand how institutional racism helped my family afford to live in our current house, I should start by going back in time, not to 1999 (the year my family bought our current house), but to prior decades….

Back in the 1970s, my neighborhood was about as white as you can get, and in fact my neighborhood was the epicenter for the Italian mafia. However, people of color started to move into my neighborhood during the 1970s, and that movement accelerated during the 1980s and 1990s. By the time my family was looking for homes in my current neighborhood in 1999, it was a heavily West Indian neighborhood and most whites had fled the neighborhood. This was one example of white flight, or whites fleeing their neighborhoods to escape an influx of people of color moving in.

White flight usually depresses property values in the affected neighborhoods;[1] declining property values as a result of white flight is a form of institutional racism. In fact, white flight depressed property values in my current neighborhood so much that it became an affordable neighborhood for my family! In other words, institutional racism meant that my family could afford to live where we currently live.

However, white flight was not the only thing that had an impact on where my family ended up. Another factor was a facet of institutional racism in real estate—the fact that, at least at the time, realtors tended to mostly show us and other whites houses which were surrounded by white neighbors (which in turn would continue a form of racial segregation). This was the case even though my family made it painfully clear that we loved the West Indian culture in our current neighborhood (a love of culture that goes back to when my dad did graduate school research in Trinidad). As a result we ended up in what was, at the time, one of the small white enclaves of what was otherwise a heavily West Indian neighborhood. My family ended up where we live because of institutional racism.

In the end, though, things worked out for the better, in my family’s case. While my neighborhood is by no means perfect, I love the neighborhood in which I live. Indeed, institutional racism affected where I live, and in my case, it has affected where I live for the better. With housing, I benefited from institutional racism. However, many people are not nearly as fortunate as I have been.

[1] There are a variety of opinions as to what causes this to happen. A Washington Post article from last year cited a report from Brandeis University saying that the issue is white buyers steering away from neighborhoods with any black population, while sociologist David R. Harris (then at the University of Michigan, now president of Union College) says that sometimes race affects property values while at other times it is socioeconomic status that affects the values.

The New Domain Name!

Hi readers!

I just changed my domain name. It is now https://blindinjusticeblog.com/, so the only difference between the old domain name and the new one is that the “WordPress” part is left out. However, if you forget the change in domain name and type in the old domain name, you will be redirected to blindinjusticeblog.com (I tried this on my laptop and my phone). If this doesn’t happen to you, please let me know and I will be more than happy to contact WordPress Support.

Speaking of WordPress, they say that new domains may be unreliable for the first 72 hours. Unfortunately, those first 72 hours include my blog post next Tuesday. I therefore apologize in advance if you experience any growing pains between now and Tuesday evening with the new domain name. But if you experience any problems beyond Tuesday evening, please send me a message on Facebook, on Twitter, or by email so that I can contact WordPress.

In the meantime, enjoy reading my posts without seeing irrelevant ads!

Note: I wrote this blog post within minutes of publishing it, so I apologize in advance for any mistakes.

Blog News: An Upcoming Change in Domain Name!

When I started this blog last spring, I had no idea that it would gain the following and readership it has.

Because I had no idea what the blog would become, I wanted to start small and cheap. I wanted to start with a free WordPress site which allowed me to write and have a site for the blog.

However, as the blog has grown in readership and following, I’ve thought about how I can improve the reading experiences for those who read my posts.

In this area, upgrading to a personal plan, which would result in a change in domain name, is the way to go for this blog.

With a free WordPress blog, I have no power over what ads come up (if any) in my posts, even if I see ads for products I and other readers don’t care about or don’t like. For example, as I’m typing this, I’m looking at a recent blog post of mine which has an ad for the Humane Society at the bottom. Now, I have nothing wrong with the Humane Society, especially since my dad’s parents’ favorite dog they ever had was one they got through the Humane Society, but I’m not here to endorse the Humane Society either.

With an upgrade in plans, I can remove these ads. By removing the ads, it clears clutter from the posts readers read, and in turn improves reading experiences.

Other features of this plan are intriguing to me, such as search engine optimization and more control over blog page design. Something like search engine optimization in particular seems like something that can bring even more readership in, if I use it correctly. But ultimately my biggest motivation is improving the reading experiences of my readers, and I think removing ads through this new plan is an easy way to do that.

So, in the coming days, you will see a new domain name. When I do so, I will make the announcement on my Facebook and Twitter pages, so please look at my posts and tweets for further information.

In the meantime, Happy Reading!

Facebook: Blind Injustice

Twitter: @blindinjustices

Introducing a New Series of Blog Posts!

A few months ago, when my dad was looking over a draft of my post on the racist writings on my family’s car and in my neighborhood, he said something along the lines of, “This post is fine, but one thing you haven’t addressed on your blog is institutional racism.”

He was right. I haven’t addressed that topic yet. It’s also a topic that’s important to address, in large part because institutional racism is often ignored or denied.

But what is institutional racism, and how do I plan to address this topic?

Most definitions, including mine, would describe institutional racism as racism that is practiced and sometimes even normalized by social, economic, governmental, and other institutions. Institutional racism could be subtle or overt, but one reason why I think many people deny the existence of institutional racism is because it is often so subtle.

My blog post series hopes to show that institutional racism exists, and that it exists in so many areas of our daily lives. I hope to do this through a series of four posts over the next few months: one on how it affected where my family lives, one on how it changed where my brother and I went to school, one on how it affected how I was policed (especially compared to most people in the majority-minority neighborhood I’m in), and one on how it affected my college experience.

I believe in making the case for the existence of institutional racism through parts of my own experiences because I believe that my stories, and the larger factors that play into my stories, are a few examples of the institutional racism I frequently hear about.

While institutional racism has affected me, I emphasize that, by-in-large, the institutional racism has been to my advantage as a white person, and to the disadvantage of people who are not white or are not labeled as white.

Some of my readers may already be on board with the idea that institutional racism exists, and some of my readers may even be able to cite personal examples of institutional racism helping or hurting themselves (or people they care about). However, I also hope that people who are skeptical of, or deny, the existence of institutional racism can see through my personal experiences that it does exist in the 21st century, in the United States of America.

On Body Image Issues

Anyone who looks at me for the first time will notice that my stomach…well…sticks out. I am overweight, and there is no doubt about that fact.

I will even admit that I’ve had my insecurities, at times, about the fact that I am overweight. Part of it is because of how I look, because honestly I often haven’t liked the look of my stomach sticking out. Part of it is the very legitimate concern that, because I’m overweight, I am at an increased risk for just about every health problem ranging from heart attacks to arthritis at an earlier age. And then part of it is that I feel like I’d be perceived of poorly because I look a little fat.

I think that these insecurities—insecurities which seem to be shared by many other people who’ve struggled with body image issues—need to be broken down for everyone’s sake:

The Idea that a Stomach Sticking Out (or Jiggly Arms or a Fat Neck) Looks Ugly

I could be wrong, but I think this message has been sent because the idealized bodies in our society are viewed as athletic men with six-pack bodies and women in fashion who wear size 0 clothing.  As such, many of us strive for that size 0 or that six-pack body. And I can’t lie—at times before, I have been envious of guys with six-back bodies from a looks standpoint.

For people who feel this pressure, you ARE beautiful. And I mean that. Just by virtue of the ways you can help people by using the body you have, you are beautiful. Whether you are of a healthy weight, overweight, or underweight, you are beautiful because you have a body that you can use to give smiles, help others in various ways, and make the world a better place.

Concerns about Being Overweight and Having Health Problems

We hear all the time about how overweight people are at risk for everything from arthritis to heart disease.  People of a healthy weight don’t need to tell those of us who aren’t about all of the potential health problems as if we’re ignorant; I, and many other overweight people, know and are aware of these issues.

At the same time, it’s also not healthy to be underweight. Being too underweight comes with health problems as well. Furthermore, taking measures too drastic to lose weight could result in anything from eating disorders to exercise addictions, which also are not healthy.

The bottom line is that, while it’s ideal for people like me to lose some weight, none of us should go to the other extreme and try so hard to lose weight that we create a new set of health issues.

Worries about Being Perceived of Poorly Because of Looking Overweight

Many of us, myself included, worry that, because we’re viewed as fat, we’ll be viewed as: a) lazy, b) not conscious of our health, c) couch potatoes, d) sloppy, e) not having the “right” kind of body to attract a significant other, or f) some or all of the above.

I do not belittle any of these insecurities because, quite frankly, I’ve experienced all of them! People who have no idea how many miles I like to walk when I relax in my free time have told me to “go to the gym,” and people who don’t know how hard I’ve worked to tweak my diet have questioned whether I care about my health, for example. And, as silly as this sounds, parts of me wondered at times in the past if my not having a girlfriend had to do with my not having the right physique.

If you experience any or all of these insecurities, too, my big encouragement is that we should not let ourselves be defined by how others view us, or how we think others view us. We should define ourselves in other ways, and hopefully ways that give us more fulfillment and happiness than stress and dismay.


While the individual insecurities are different, there’s one central theme with each insecurity. Namely, they all revolve around concerns that our bodies are not sufficient, that they are not “enough.” And that is a lie. Our bodies are enough. Believing anything short of that would be unjust to ourselves.

Picture of me
This was me at the International Young Leaders Assembly at the United Nations in Summer 2016. The body in the picture is capable of doing great things, and so are others’ bodies.