Monday, January 19, 2015

You Can't Shame the Devil, but You Can Put Lipstick on a Proverbial Pig

January 19, 2015

Rashard Zanders – Twin Cities, MN – Congrats to the NFL, the nation's richest non-profit organization made canyons of money yesterday from their conference championship games. Winners yesterday were Russell Wilson, who led the Seattle Seahawks to a startling comeback against the Green Bay Packers from 12 points down with the game apparently locked away,and Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, who felled the upstart Indianapolis Colts handily.

I just hope with his continued success, Mr. Wilson, (who I predicted would get at least one title within his first three years—now has a chance to make it two) can make enough money so he doesn't have to endorse American Family Insurance his whole career.

American Family Insurance is not alone among racially discriminating insurance companies, however, they were the most notorious in Wisconsin – Milwaukee in particular and Madison where I lived. Since Mr. Wilson did play his last year of college football there, and American Family Mutual Insurance Company is headquartered there it was inevitable the company would latch on to the young superstar's success. In two weeks Russell Wilson is playing to become the first repeat NFL Champion in over a decade, and his squeaky pure image is just what AMFMI needed. A perfect marriage putting the perfect Black athlete in the service of one of this nations most enthusiastic proponents of underwriting discrimination. According to the American Prospect article cited above:

Real estate agents and federal housing officials long listened to sociologist and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) advisor Homer Hoyt, who concluded in 1933 that [B]lacks and Mexicans had a very detrimental effect on property values. In its 1939 Underwriting Manual the FHA warned of "inharmonious racial groups" and concluded that "if a neighborhood is to retain stability, it is necessary that properties shall continue to be occupied by the same social and racial classes." Until the 1960s the FHA insured the financing of many homes in white suburban areas while providing virtually no mortgage insurance in the urban markets where minorities lived. Similarly, until the 1950s the National Association of Realtors officially "steered" clients into certain neighborhoods according to race, advising that "a realtor should never be instrumental in introducing into a neighborhood a character of property or occupancy, members of any race or nationality whose presence will clearly be detrimental to property values in the neighborhood."

In fact, American Family Mutual Insurance faced litigation and lost according to the Poverty & Race Research Action Council (PRRAC)

No insurance, no loan; no loan, no house; lack of insurance thus makes housing unavailable.” So said the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in NAACP v. American Family Mutual Insurance Company, a case that resulted in a 1995 settlement worth $14.5 million, including subsidized home purchase loans, greater access to insurance policies, and other forms of reinvestment for [B]lack neighborhoods in inner-city areas of Milwaukee, Wisconsin."

While I am rooting for the Seattle Seahawks over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX, it will be the first full game I'll see all year I have chosen to boycott broadcast sports, at least most of the regular season, since 2007. Between the internet, the radio, daily box scores and bars, I get my sports overload without giving them my entire Sunday anymore. And I will be the loudest to cheer if and when Russell Wilson becomes the first Black quarterback to repeat and lead his team to the championship.

Still, I hope Mr. Wilson becomes as studious with his business choices as he is with his playbook Off the field, I'd rather he weren't the lipstick on the American Family pig.

Rashard Zanders is a musician and writer from Chicago stuck in the Twin Cities, hoping each winter will be his last. He lives with Thrilla, a wonderful tortoiseshell Cat. He'll Play the Blues for You. He can be reached for comment at 872.228.4179, alex.zandersIV@gmail, or if you're in the Twin Cities he's at the cafe'.

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