Intersectionality within the United States Fair Housing Act
The United States Fair Housing Act is the main federal law that oriented on the legal protection of those people who belong to minorities. The main point of the Fair Housing Act is to equalize all people who buy, rent or secure financing for housing in order to create the unified housing market in the USA instead of the conservative housing market based on the Americans presuppositions concerning the representatives of any minorities. The Fair Housing Act was adopted in 1968, and in this way it became one of the first steps to the social justice establishment in the American society that shared a lot of chauvinist ideas in the early and middle XX century. The Fair Housing Act still works, and in this way it is important to research and understand its general features in order to understand properly the todays American society. The best research to achieve that is the intersectional approach that allows researching the social reality through the prism of its multidimensionality and complexity instead of limiting the researching prism by a single factor or one side of the studied phenomenon. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 demonstrates the power balance changing in the context of the Civil Rights Movement, and at the same time, this documents with its limitations obvious today, demonstrates the progressive changes that took place in the USA since 1968 till now.
The intersectional researching approach includes six main features that mostly may be found in any studied social phenomenon. It is very important that these ideas are neither always present in a particular project, nor do they appear in projects in the same way. Those six ideas are social inequality, power, relationality, social context, complexity and social justice. The proposed paper is an attempt of the Fair Housing Acts examination on the subject of those features interrelation.
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It is important to start from the Fair Housing Act through the prism of the concept of social inequality based on interactions among various categories as explained by Hill-Collins and Bilge. At the same time, it is important to take into account the social context in which the Act was adopted, because attending to social context grounds intersectional analysis. It is clear that the main categories of people influenced by this Act are, on the right hand, householders, whose discriminative behavior was outlawed, and those who do not have their houses and need to rent or buy it, whose rights were protected. Through the concept of complexity underlined by Hill-Collins and Bilge it is important to highlight the complex character of each group because the Act influences only those situations when the representatives of the group of householders belong to the majority, and their counterparts belong to the minority. Besides, majorities and minorities may be very different and individuals belonging to these two groups depends on each particular contextual situation, thus, it is needed to mention the concept of relationality that represents both/and frame. In this way, the belonging of a householders to some majority should relate to his or her counterparts belonging to a correspondent minority in order to provoke the case of discrimination. Here the division of the American society into four groups (majorities, minorities, householders and householders clients), and the assumption that for the discriminations provocation the representatives of the groups of majorities and minorities should belong to the groups of majorities and minorities respectively, means that in the case regulated by the Act, the prominent role belongs to the problem of power. Both groups of householders and majorities possess power, while others do not. In the context of the intersectional approachs use, power is better conceptualized as a relationship... power constitutes a relationship. The reference to relationship means here that those householders who would discriminate those potential house renters or buyers who belong to minorities because of their race, color, religion, sex and national origin, should belong to the correspondent majorities. Thus, the Americans needed social justice achieved through the peoples equalization. It is possible to underline at least three reasons obvious through the prism of the proposed research. The first reason is the Civil Rights Movements activity that attempted to change the situation from below. At the same time, there was at least two reasons to do the same from above: the need of national and economic unity of the USA. The unification of the housing market would eliminate many obstacles on the path of the American nations further economic, political and social development. The analysis operates with all six key concepts proposed by Hill-Collins and Bilge, and in this way, the full picture of the situation is achieved. In this way, the connection of different factors became the reason why the Fair Housing Acts adoption in 1968 was inevitable.
Another prism that allows the interpretation of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 is its examination through the prism of the todays social context. It is very illustrative that the todays researchers provide a lot of criticism in address of the Fair Housing Act. Thus, Collins claims that it is needed to revisit and reconsider the best means of implementing its original goals because discrimination and segregation in public housing can be undone. The same ideas are expressed by Larkin who claims that despite the Fair Housing Acts enactment, discrimination and segregation within the suburbs remain prevalent. It is very important that both articles were published already in XXI century, more than forty years after the Acts adoption. Thus, the problem here concerns the lack of the Acts adequacy to the todays challenges: it does not reflect the power balance in the current social context anymore. Thus, for example, Tester underlines that sexual coercion... is the most common form of sexual harassment for women in housing. According to Tester, the most vulnerable group of people in this aspect are poor women. This example perfectly demonstrates the transformation of the common understanding of social inequality and social justice in general, because the feminist movement was much weaker in 1968 than today and could not protect the rights of women as effectively as the African Americans led by Dr. Martin Luther King did. The todays changing of power balance in the American society and the rise of feminists as a powerful counterpart in relation to the defenders of patriarchal conservatism, construct new social needs and demands affecting in this way the further fixing of the social inequality issues from above (by the American Government). Some close idea may be found in Franklins research where the author underlines the need to establish and ensure an appropriate balance between protecting equal access to housing and ensuring access to the courts. Franklin claims that some people use the Fair Housing Acts weaknesses and commit unfair actions toward the householders who thus, in the context of Franklins interpretation, become those who need the Governmental protection, while in 1968 the full power belonged to them.
The most important here is to note that the change of the public position concerning the Fair Housing Act is affected by the general social transformations that include many factors. It is possible to underline the globalization (especially in its economic aspect), the development of the American multicultural society, and the liberalization of the social sphere of life in comparison with the condition of 1968. The criticism provided by the researchers is not affected by some essential mistake of the Act, but has the relational nature and appears because of the changing of the power balance in the American society. As Hill-Collins and Bilge underline, power is not a thing to be gained or lost as in the zero-sum conceptions of winners and losers on the football playing field. Understood through the intersectional approach, power is a process constructed by a wide number of factors, and thus, the Fair Housing Act was used by the Government in 1968 to change the states policy in accordance with the social powers flux.
Through the proposed intersectional analysis of the Fair Housing Act, the researched document appears as a result and legislative marker of the social transformations that took place in the late 60s of the XX century. The social inequality of the middle XX century brought a lot of social, economic, cultural and political problems. Through the adoption of the Fair Housing Act, the US Government fixed the federal policy in accordance with the new social reality created by the Civil Rights Movement. Thus, the balance of power in the American society was transformed because of the public demands for the social justice, economic need of a unified housing market, political need of the nations unification through the equalization of all Americans. In this way, the complex of factors became the reason why the Act was adopted, while the todays multidimensional transformations of the American society in they turn appear through the constant criticism toward the weaknesses of the Fair Housing Act that does not satisfy the needs of the nation anymore.