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MimZWay @MimZWay
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This is a thread about how institutional racism works.

In the 1950’s SUNY schools & community colleges offered FREE tuition to local students. My mother-in-law, who is white, took advantage of this program and received her degree from SUNY Buffalo in Speech Therapy.
When my father graduated from high school, he was not told of the opportunity for free tuition because black students were routinely not informed of the opportunity for a free college education.
My father always had a talent for repairing electrical appliances. Radios, televisions, refrigerators - anything that was powered by electricity, he could fix it.

He also had a head for math . He heard the military might be a good place to earn a degree and gain job experience.
At the recruitment center, he was told the Navy had an Electrical Engineering program and he would be recommended for it! Since he couldn’t afford college, he thought this was the answer to his prayers. Little did he know that negros were not allowed in the program.

He signed up
When he got on board the ship, he was given three job options: cook, janitor or barnacle scraper. Imagine his disappointment when learned he wouldn’t be allowed into the Electrical Engineering program.
On board the ship, my father earned a reputation for being able to fix anything. Whenever a radio was broken, they brought it to my dad to repair it.
Then one day the radar to the ship went down.
It was down for three days.
No one could figure out what was wrong with it.
Finally someone said, “There’s a negro on board who can fix anything. Maybe we should call him.”

Someone went to get my dad.
My dad figured a fuse must have blown. The area where the fuses were located was a tiny space. Only one man could fit into it. My dad said God guided his hand. He found the fuse that was blown and replaced it.

The radar was back on.
When my dad came out of the space, there was no doubt who had fixed the radar. The head of the Electrical Engineering program asked my dad how come he wasn’t in the program. “I was told Negros weren’t allowed in the program sir.”

That unofficial policy changed right then.
My dad came out of the Navy an electrical engineer - but institutional racism wasn’t finished with him.
After my mom and dad got married, they had me, and then tried to buy a house. Even though my dad was a veteran, he was told by bank after bank he couldn’t use the VA loan program, since most deeds specified negros couldn’t own property.
He needed 100% cash to buy a home.
Although he was a skilled electrical engineer, the only job he could find at the time was as a custodian.

How could he ever come up with enough cash to purchase a home on a janitor’s salary?
It was the Cold War at this time, and there were opportunities for naval officers to work in Alaska monitoring Russian communications. It was lonely work. The government paid a premium for men to sign up - and room and board was covered. My dad left my mom & I and went to Alaska.
My mom and I moved in with my grandmother - so all the money my dad earned could be saved for the house. My mom and I shared a room there.
After a year, my dad returned with the cash. He found a builder in Liverpool, New York who was building a new development, Oot Meadows. The builder agreed to build my mom and dad a home for the cash.
This is just one example of how institutional racism has worked to keep black families from having the same educational and financial opportunities white families took for granted.
My next thread will cover how it was difficult to get a job using his engineering skills. How when my dad finally did get that job, the police would try to stop him each morning on his way to work to make him late, as well as other daily injustices to overcome.
I hope this was educational.
I have found a lot of people don’t realize VA loans were really only available to white men. When we understand what happened, and what continues to happen - we are better able to prevent this from happening to our brothers and sisters.

Thank you for your kind words & support.
If you are feeling grateful for all you have & you have a few dollars to spare - the House of Mercy does great things here in Rochester, NY
I volunteer here and would appreciate any support you can give. Thank you.
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