Archie Bunker, “Redlining”, And White Flight
06/18/2024
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Many years ago, when the world was young, I watched an episode of 1970s TV series All In The Family, in which white “bigot” Archie Bunker is annoyed that his homeowner’s insurance is being cancelled because his neighborhood is tipping. The episode is called The Insurance Is Canceled, and originally aired November 27, 1971.

The insurance agent, his wife’s nephew, tells the Bunkers that “this is due to the crime in the area where they live which puts them in the high risk category due to low-income black families who have moved into the area.”

He’s frustrated to learn that the "zone of no insurance" line (they call this "redlining" ) is drawn is such a way that his next door neighbor, George Jefferson, can get insurance. Jefferson is black.

Being somewhat older, I can see the insurance company’s point—the insurance company is not allowed to discriminate by race, but they are allowed to draw zones of more or less dangerous neighborhoods.

Archie’s neighborhood is tipping—his next-door neighbor is black. Jefferson is living in a somewhat better neighborhood than many blacks—his next-door neighbor is Archie.

Jefferson is not, by the way, a “low-income” black—he’s an entrepreneur building a chain of dry-cleaning stores—which leads to him, in All In The Family spinoff The Jeffersons “moving on up, to the East Side”.

Instead of living in a house that looks like this:

He’s living in a building described in the opening lyrics of The Jeffersons as a “a deluxe apartment in the sky”—with a white doorman.

In another spinoff, Archie Bunker’s Place, Archie stays behind in Queens operating a tavern, where he is in fact robbed—although, and because TV is deliberately unreal on this subject, by two white females.

In the final kick at the All In The Family spinoff can, Norman Lear made a show in 1994 called 704 Hauser—in which the family that lives at the former Bunker home is black.

Thus, of course, unintentionally proving the insurance company was right—in 1994 there were 2,016  murders, 86,617  robberies, and 164,650 burglaries  in New York, and most of them were clustered in neighborhoods where black people live—the Jeffersons excepted.

Yes, I know it's fictional—but white flight—caused by black crime—and bogus claims of discrimination are real.

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