Inspired by groundbreaking work in Seattle and Virginia showing how digital tools can illuminate structural racism and transform our understanding of the past, MappingPrejudice.org is a research project showing what communities of color have known for decades. Structural barriers stopped many people who were not white from buying property and building wealth for most of the last century. Racial covenants were tools used by real estate developers to prevent people of color from buying or occupying property. Often just a few lines of text, these covenants were inserted into warranty deeds across the country. These real estate contracts were powerful tools for segregationists. Real estate developers and public officials used private property transactions to build a hidden system of American apartheid during the twentieth century.
In Minneapolis, these restrictions served as powerful obstacles for people of color seeking safe and affordable housing. They also limited access to community resources like parks and schools. Racial covenants dovetailed with redlining and predatory lending practices to depress homeownership rates for African Americans. Contemporary white residents of Minneapolis like to think their city never had formal segregation. But racial covenants did the work of Jim Crow in northern cities like Minneapolis.
This history has been willfully forgotten, so Mapping Prejudice was created to shed new light on these historic practices. We cannot address the inequities of the present without an understanding of the past.