(BALTIMORE, MD, 6/3/19) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today applauded a move by concerned Maryland residents to have racist language be removed from dozens of housing covenants drafted several decades ago that restricted the Rodgers Forge neighborhood of Baltimore County exclusively to white residents.
SEE: Rodgers Forge scrubs racist covenants from land records, becoming first Maryland neighborhood to do so
“Disparities exist within every level of our societal systems because they have been designed to uphold white supremacy,” said CAIR Director of Maryland Outreach Zainab Chaudry. “Racism has been institutionalized and codified in our policies, practices and structures, and it has inflicted deep wounds in our nation. The neighborhood committee that dedicated weeks poring through land records, identifying problematic text, and crafting alternative language is helping the healing process. This historic development is an example of the progress that is possible when ordinary citizens take the initiative to embrace and model inclusivity.”
In September 2017, CAIR called on the community association to eliminate the Jim Crow-era agreements, which state in part: “No person of any race other than the white race shall use or occupy any building on any lot.”
SEE: CAIR Calls on Maryland Community Association to Drop Discriminatory Housing Covenants
The exhaustive, five-month long effort is largely symbolic because the covenants were at least legally unenforceable after passage of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which outlawed the discriminatory practice.
But it sends a critical message that this Baltimore County neighborhood welcomes people of color. It also paves the way and encourages other communities to examine their covenants and follow their example.
Historically, such racial covenants were commonly used to prevent minorities from settling into white neighborhoods.
The nation’s first racial zoning law was enacted in Baltimore in 1910. Such covenants became popular as an alternative after that law was invalidated seven years later on constitutional grounds in the 1917 US Supreme Court ruling of Buchanan v. Warley.
According to state records, Baltimore County is still currently the most segregated county in Maryland.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misiÃ³n de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensiÃ³n del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.