El Dorado Hills, United States

El Dorado Hills: The Rich White Neighborhood

“Oak Ridge High School is filled with rich white kids who don’t have to work for anything”: This is the constant image that is cast upon Oak Ridge High School. This image renders the basis that just about every person from this high school is privileged. Each more than the last, but why is that? Why is El Dorado Hills predominately white? In the 1960s, the tenant ‘whites only’ clause that was implemented through housing contracts had a great effect on the people who were renting and buying houses in El Dorado Hills, well after the civil rights movement, an effort to stop segregation in the United States.

Likewise, separating the men and women of society based on their skin color dates back to 1790, when the Naturalization Act of 1790 was passed, restricting citizenship to free whites. The racial divisions in America has remained as a constant in the United States since the Civil War, the terrifying Jim Crow South and now, today, with the persisting segregation, residentially, seen by the overwhelming poverty in black urban neighborhoods. With the many different views in America of race, African-Americans were constantly having to be separated due to their skin color: using different sinks, bathrooms, dining halls, and transportation was part of their daily life. Racial segregation was sought upon as an idea of denying the African Americans an equal status, an equal place, in society by declining them basic rights and access to many public facilities. After the Civil War, in the 1880s, legislation had strengthened segregation leading to be undebatable and unchangeable till the 1950s(Lawson). However, African Americans still protested the streets demanding change, arguing that they should be able to have the same rights as the whites, that they are still humans too. Families walked the streets with posters that illustrated the need to allow the young boys and girls a chance at education: “I have lost four years of education. Why five?.” It wasn’t till the “struggle against Nazi racism in Europe… that [had] called attention to the racism in America”(Lawson).

In like manner, due to the mass amount of African-Americans who fled out of the South and into other parts of the nation very rapidly, known as the Great Migration, the idea of segregation also spread along with them. In Chicago, Illinois, the epicenter of segregation, many laws were implemented which sectioned off parts of the city for white people and parts for black people. Soon then, many housing laws were put into place which prohibited an African-American from buying a house in a all white neighborhood. The processes of misinformation, denial of realty, financing services and racial steering made it very difficult for an African-American man or family to purchase their house and live in it without any arguments being risen over it. Black households were “twenty-five percent less likely to live next to a neighborhood of another race…Areas that both gained black residents like the Urban North and the Rural South saw increased racial segregation during the 1940s”(Florida).  Up and coming neighborhoods that kept on increasing and expanding in size and population made it very troubling for African Americans to buy and rent houses. The many information gaps, local regulatory policies and disparities within homeowners’ agreements have all reflected back to the legally enforced segregation, known as the Jim Crow Laws. Meant to enslave and discriminate the African Americans, the Jim Crow Laws were set out at the end of the Reconstruction period in 1877 and the beginning of the civil-rights movement in the 1950s. These laws had implemented a mandated segregation of African Americans in all public facilities; some examples were having two different drinking fountains, white and colored; laundry companies who only “washed for the white”, and schools where only the white were able to be in. White men and young school children stood outside public facilities with unimaginable posters, some saying: “WE WON’T GO TO SCHOOL WITH NEGROES.”

Chicago wasn’t the only city that implemented laws like this; one of the many places that had these laws was right here in El Dorado Hills, California. In like manner, from more than half century, racist rules banning non-whites from being able to own houses in an El Dorado Hills community sparked outrage in many residents in El Dorado Hills, who believed that the El Dorado Hills community was way ahead of this idea. Recently, in 2016, the Foster family had just moved into the Lake Hills neighborhood. While signing the paperwork, they noticed a clause in the subdivision CC&R’s, written in 1959, stating: “No person except those of the white Caucasian race shall use, occupy, or reside upon any residential lot or plot in this subdivision, except when employed in the household of a white Caucasian tenant or owner”(Large). After reading this, outrage and concerns were sparked; Kevin Loewen of the El Dorado Hills Community Services District saw this clause as “inappropriate, illegal, and reprehensible” (Loewen). The Foster family soon set out to acquire 300 signature to petition for the change in this “racial occupancy” clause; “I just don’t think in this day and age that’s how things should be, and I just want to set that stage for the world that my kids are gonna grow up in”(Foster). Teachers and students from Oak Ridge High School came together in this challenging effort to create a change in this occurring housing segregation seen within our community.  Student, Jessyka Mitchell, said “That really exists. I’ve heard stories of people not really wanting to live here because they don’t feel included” (Mitchell). Randeep Chandra said that a plausible solution must be found; “It’s something that needs to be brought to light and action needs to be taken”(Chandra). However, even with the multiple efforts to bring change, there was no clear path for validating the signatures. After months with sitting with the many residents and elected officials, the effort to change this clause came to an end as teachers, students, residents, and officials held the FireSafe Barbecue and went door to door to acquire the signatures.

Consequently, El Dorado Hills has experienced an emergence of diversity in the community. Although the persistence of segregation still occurs as many minorities “still face significant barriers to housing search, even when they are well-qualified as renters or homebuyers…middle-class minority neighborhoods have lower house price appreciation, fewer neighborhood amenities, lower-performing school…than white neighborhoods with comparable income levels(Turner). Many public institutions and universities have noticed residential segregation, due to the emergence of the growing Latino and Asian population in areas, and have led protests and sent reports to our elected officials demanding for change and an immediate end to this recurring segregation. Civil rights groups have sued many individuals and businesses in aiding housing segregation. Overall, segregation still plays a big role in all of our lives whether we’re white, black, hispanic, and many more. Fighting and aiding to stop segregation can be through raising awareness to our government, petitioning for signatures and participating in protests to fight for what you believe in. Students and adults can notify our elected officials: congressman and representatives, to learn more about residential segregation and the many other withstanding racial problems within the El Dorado Hills community.

Article by Megan Nowag and Shaina Shah

Works Cited

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Large, Steve. “Whites Only: Racist Home Ownership Rules Still On The Books In El Dorado Hills Community.” CBS

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    nationalhumanitiescenter.org/tserve/freedom/1865-1917/essays/segregation.htm. Accessed 1 Dec. 2017.

Turner, Margery Austin. “Housing discrimination today and the persistence of residential segregation.” Urban Institute, 12

     June 2013, www.urban.org/urban-wire/housing-discrimination-today-and-persistence-residential-segregation.

     Accessed 1 Dec. 2017.

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