'These Stories Are About The Reparations Conversation': CBS Mornings' Co-Host Tony Dokoupil On New Jersey Housing Discrimination
(CBS Local)-- Housing discrimination has been an issue in America for decades and "CBS Mornings" co-host Tony Dokoupil recently took a look at how this has impacted the nation's wealth gap. In 1964, CBS News followed Corbett Rachal and his wife, Sallye, a Black couple, as they were repeatedly denied a home in Bergen County, New Jersey, one of New York City's most desirable suburbs. That happens to be where Dokoupil's grandparents purchased a home a decade earlier.
CBS News documented in rare hidden-camera footage the Rachals repeatedly being turned away by real estate agents because they were Black. Dokoupil spoke with the couple's daughter Alicia on how that discrimination has affected her family and what he life looks like today.
CBS Local's Katie Johnston chatted with Dokoupil about the piece he did on this important topic for CBS Mornings, what he learned from his research and conversation and what conversations in the future could look like about reparations.
"It turns out that there are years and years of research showing the typical white family has between 8-10 times the family wealth as the typical Black family," said Dokoupil. "Then we started doing a couple of stories on why that is. The answer, other than the big answer of racism, is real estate. It occurred to me one day that my family probably benefited from some of these policies. That's what led me to New Jersey and actually going to my grandfather's home county. He raised my father and aunts and uncles and talking to people there about whether they knew what happened there or whether they knew there was awareness and if there was what should happen now."
Dokoupil's personal connection to this story allowed him to tap into a much bigger story in the conversation happening in this country about reparations.
"Really what both of these stories are about are the conversation about reparations," said Dokoupil. "Sometimes it comes up politically and there is a study going on in Congress about whether we need to do something like reparations. This is money for the harm of slavery and the continued discrimination. Polls are against it nationally and you hear people politically say it is ancient history, so what these stories really demonstrate is that when it comes to who has and who has not and it's not ancient history and it continues to this day. Alicia also doesn't feel comfortable with the idea of a transfer of wealth, but on the other hand she does recognize that her family's financial trajectory went on a different course because of what happened in Bergen County. It speaks to the overall discomfort I think Americans have with the idea of making good when it comes to who has what."
Watch Dokoupil, Gayle King and Nate Burleson each weekday morning on "CBS Mornings" from 7 a.m. - 9 a.m. EST on CBS.
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