Sunday, July 6, 2008

Dallas History, Liquor & Politics

Here's another contributed article from one of our concerned residents. It's a bit of history on liquor and Dallas politics and makes a great point: get involved in the community (or be stuck with someone else's ideas and agenda).

Organizing a Town Hall Meeting caused me to consider the “liquor issue” and its subsequent in questioning and unrest among some Wilmer residents. It caused me to remember the 1955/56 liquor vote in Oak Cliff and the aftermath of the defeat of the liquor sales proposal. Oak Cliff, Precinct 7, was at the time the largest dry Precinct in the state. I see no real harm from liquor sales, if they adhere to the laws governing such sales and consumption.

In 1956, the year Oak Cliff became fully integrated into the City of Dallas. The liquor sales issue was brought up for a vote. The Churches united under a single banner, “I Buy Dry”. The Churches ---black and white---fought the pro-liquor sales interests tooth and toenail. At this particular time, few people of Latin descent lived in Oak Cliff proper, most lived in the area south of Ross Avenue or in West Dallas, not in the projects, but were property owners. If you remember, Dallas was not only segregated but it was ethnically separated into neighborhoods as well. The kids from West Dallas---Latino and Anglo--- were in the Crozier Technical High School District (Special Magnet Schools are not new). Now, at least you have freedom to choose the Magnet School that suits your goals. My aunts went to Crozier Tech. They were poor and bright, but as the counselor said, “No one in your family has a degree so college just is not in your future, so prepare for a trade. There is cosmetology, secretarial skills, and bookkeeping, etc. offered here and available for people like you.” She never mentioned scholarships were available for any and all bright and gifted students.

A few citizens of Oak Cliff were connected to the real estate industry of the time. The churches were quietly told to quit their fight against the alcohol sales issue or an effort called “steering” would result and Oak Cliff would become Black and Latino within ten years of a negative alcohol sales election. History speaks for itself. Steering did occur until it became a legal issue all across the county. Read the Times Herald and Dallas Morning News stories of the period. The Churches and civic leaders did not remain silent. The definition of steering: the illegal funneling of home buyers to a particular area based on the desire to keep the makeup of that neighborhood the same or intentionally change it. Racial steering receives the most consumer complaints, but the practice is not acceptable for any reason, and it goes against Fair Housing laws.

Steering was not just an Oak Cliff problem. As previously stated, it happened across the County until the Fair Housing Act was put in place. The Fair Housing Act has helped us learn to appreciate and recognize our commonalities and appreciate and accept our differences. It was for the greater good. It has brought us together as a family. When you live together, you find that we all have common goals and aspirations. That is why I am concerned about housing developments that fly banners and balloons in the colors of Mexico’s national flag. It says to most people Anglos, Asians and Blacks need not buy here; this is planned and intended to be a Latino Neighborhood. Planned neighborhoods are easy to control and manipulate -”gated communities and home owner associations” are proof of that.

What would happen if a housing development/developer flew banners or balloons in the traditional black, red and green colors of African nations or grey, white and red banners and balloons speckled with white stars? Steering is back with us and not really in a too subtle way. It is cloaked as an invitation to a better life and the red, white and green balloons and signage in Spanish clearly says, “Latinos and Latin surnames only are welcome.” It is not the Real Estate Companies this time, but developers with special interests and perhaps agendas. Drive west on I-20 and look to the left. If you are not Latino and if you dare, walk into the sales office and inquire about a down payment and taking out a mortgage loan. Steering is back with us. It comes in as areas zoned for apartments and temporary housing. This kind of zoning occurs when a permanent residential population is being discouraged and transients are welcomed because they won’t be in the neighborhood (city) long enough to become involved in local politics and business can continue as usual.

Planning and Zoning are not the sole proprietary business of the Mayor, City
Council, and Developers. It should have input from the citizens of the community as a whole.
(ED: emphasis added) An egalitarian* Town Hall Meeting gets my vote.

*Egalitarian means : Advocating the doctrine of equal political, economic,
and legal rights for all citizens. (May I add regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or how long you have lived in the city or community.)

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