The search for home is different for everyone, if for no better reason than that it can mean something different too. Feeling at home in America doesn’t come easily to everyone and finding a home within our borders can be complicated.
I had never thought of home ownership as a part of the American Dream, but I am not that far removed from the parts of my family that first settled in the US. I believe my mother was the first home owner on her side of the family and my father didn’t come too far behind on his. At the same time, I did understand that buying a home was a privilege and a hard thing to do. I remember how the location of that home determine what school I went to and all the whispering in the family about how my parents got me into a better school than my cousins because of where we had moved. I remember being tied for the smallest house in the area in order to go to that school.
The point is that not thinking about home and home ownership as an ingredient to realizing the American Dream was an oversight on my part. Where our houses are, how big they are, and the demographic makeup of our neighborhoods all contribute to our individual identities before we even start getting into who lives in our homes with us or the way we are treated there. Of course home is an essential part of equality. This book made me wonder how I missed it.
Beyond that, the book discusses facets of the recent housing crisis. It reminded me that the quickest way to get taken advantage of is to think you are being treated equitably. I have known plenty of people who paid too much for their homes during the “bubble” but most managed to keep their homes. I am grateful for that, but it allowed me to be ignorant of the gravity of the situation that we have faced as a nation or the bad practices that went into creating this problem.
So many of us are not home yet. We aren’t comfortable in the buildings we live in, the people we live with or around, or can’t even find somewhere to rest. There is a strong correlation between race and gender and this problem that goes beyond class and finances that Hill lines out beautifully.
If you’re trying to reimagine what equality means to you, particularly in your home, this is the book to read. I quoted it a few times over the past few weeks, and I’d like to end with this last quote:
In sum, we must begin to reimagine equality as Abigail Adams did, with all women as equals, have full authority within the home and full citizenship under the law; as Booker T. Washington did, with people of color as welcome neighbors, not as community outcasts; as Nannie Helen Burroughs did, with women’s work inside and outside the home deemed both socially and economically valuable.
Have you read Reimagining Equality? What did you think?