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Hate Thy Neighbor

Move-In Violence and the Persistence of Racial Segregation in American Housing

Jeannine Bell

Publication Year: 2013

Hate They Neighbor shows in devastating detail the rise and persistence of tactics for preventing residential racial integration, starting in the 20th century and continuing into the present. Although many minorities can find good housing in areas they can afford, just enough of their neighbors still greet them with cross-burnings, firebombs, and violence to send an ongoing warning: integrate at your own risk."
—Amanda I. Seligman, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Despite increasing racial tolerance and national diversity, neighborhood segregation remains a very real problem in cities across America. Scholars, government officials, and the general public have long attempted to understand why segregation persists despite efforts to combat it, traditionally focusing on the issue of “white flight,” or the idea that white residents will move to other areas if their neighborhood becomes integrated. In Hate Thy Neighbor, Jeannine Bell expands upon these understandings by investigating a little-examined but surprisingly prevalent problem of “move-in violence:” the anti-integration violence directed by white residents at minorities who move into their neighborhoods. Apprehensive about their new neighbors and worried about declining property values, these residents resort to extra-legal violence and intimidation tactics, often using vandalism and verbal harassment to combat what they view as a violation of their territory.
Hate Thy Neighbor is the first work to seriously examine the role violence plays in maintaining housing segregation, illustrating how intimidation and fear are employed to force minorities back into separate neighborhoods and prevent meaningful integration. Drawing on evidence that includes in-depth interviews with ordinary citizens and analysis of Fair Housing Act cases, Bell provides a moving examination of how neighborhood racial violence is enabled today and how it harms not only the victims, but entire communities.
By finally shedding light on this disturbing phenomenon, Hate Thy Neighbor not only enhances our understanding of how prevalent segregation and this type of hate-crime remain, but also offers insightful analysis of a complex mix of remedies that can work to address this difficult problem.
Jeannine Bell is Professor of Law at IU Maurer School of Law-Bloomington. She is the author of Policing Hatred: Law Enforcement, Civil Rights, and Hate Crime; Police and Policing Law; and Gaining Access to Research Sites: A Practical and Theoretical Guide for Qualitative Researchers (with Martha Feldman and Michele Berger).

Published by: NYU Press


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pp. 1-7


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pp. vii-9

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pp. ix-x

Some of the first to hear about the project provided critical support, from beginning to end. Early funding for the research project that became this book came from Indiana University’s Faculty Research Support Program. The O’Byrne Fund at the Indiana University Maurer...

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Introduction: Violence and the Neighborhood Color Line

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pp. 1-9

How can we make sense of these two incidents? Though they are similar in that they both involve blacks who have moved into all-white neighborhoods, what is perhaps most interesting is that more than fifty years separate these events. The first occurred in the late 1950s, the second...

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1. The Roots of Contemporary Move-In Violence

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pp. 11-52

Though many Americans may imagine that racially segregated housing in the United States is a direct descendent of slavery, in actuality the history of the integration of housing by race is more complicated. Blacks and whites were much more likely to be housed in the same...

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2. The Contemporary Dynamics of Move-In Violence

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pp. 53-85

The Fair Housing Act, passed in the wake of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, attempted to address the discrimination in housing that had created the white neighborhoods in which anti-integrationist violence occurred. Though the act was an important step and eventually...

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3. Anti-Integrationist Violence and the Tolerance-Violence Paradox

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pp. 86-116

The popular stereotype of American racial violence is captured by the movie Mississippi Burning. This 1988 Oscar-winning movie starred Willem Dafoe and Gene Hackman in a fictionalized account of the FBI investigation into the real-life murders of three civil rights workers...

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4. Racism or Power? Explaining Perpetrator Motivation in Interethnic Cases

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pp. 117-135

When Channise Davy first laid eyes on the cream-colored, three-bedroom bungalow on a peaceful street in Duarte, a small town in Los Angeles County, California, she thought she had found the perfect place to call home. The charming little house was accented by red and...

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5. When Class Trumps Race: Explaining Perpetrator Motivation in Interclass Cases

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pp. 136-163

Scholars discussing behavior that fits the anti-integrationist violence mold have focused closely on offenders’ racial attitudes. It makes intuitive sense to assume that offenders would single out minorities for attack because they dislike them. In this chapter, I turn the lens to...

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6. Responding to Neighborhood Hate Crimes

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pp. 164-190

Many perpetrators of anti-integrationist violence, like those who commit other types of hate crimes, are never caught. If the perpetrators are caught, the government’s response to anti-integrationist violence may involve a variety of actors, ranging from police officers investigating the crime to...

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Conclusion: The Reality of Anti-Integrationist Violence and Prospects for Integration

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pp. 191-207

Blacks, Latinos, Asian Americans, and other ethnic minorities choose to move to white neighborhoods for many of the same reasons that whites do: attractive houses, good schools for their children, better proximity to employment, and access to services. As previous chapters...


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pp. 209-241


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pp. 243-248

About the Author

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pp. 249-260

E-ISBN-13: 9780814760222
E-ISBN-10: 0814791441
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814791448
Print-ISBN-10: 0814791441

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013