the Riverside neighborhood is a real example of the impact of systemic racism and poverty in a local community.
The Riverside neighborhood was originally built to create an affordable neighborhood for white veterans returning from World War II. The GI bill, which gave returning veterans the opportunity to obtain a mortgage, home, and in time, the development of generational wealth, didn’t necessarily extend to returning Black veterans.
Though the bill helped white Americans prosper and accumulate wealth in the postwar years, it didn’t deliver on that promise for veterans of color. In fact, the wide disparity in the bill’s implementation ended up helping drive growing gaps in wealth, education, and civil rights between white and Black Americans.
As a result, white veterans, their families, and their newly attained mortgages, were able to leave the Riverside neighborhood as they pursued the “American Dream” and a life in the suburbs. Today, this mass exodus is known as, “White Flight” and the ripple effects remain present even today.
As subsidized housing became available, low-to-moderate-income Black Americans began to move into Riverside. Without the benefit of home ownership, a major contributor to generational wealth and stability, it became harder and harder for Riverside residents to flourish and grow.
Decades later, the effects of the flawed GI Bill and other contributing factors to systemic racism, such as mass incarceration, are widely felt by today’s residents. In fact, today’s Riverside is a challenging landscape that includes unsettling statistics about the neighborhood and its potential future.