December 21, 2021
Mapping Prejudice's newest hire, Michael Corey, was introduced to racial covenants when his parents refinanced their Wisconsin home when he was a child. His family was puzzled to discover that because of restrictions added decades ago when the land was platted, their house was to “never be occupied by a colored person.”
Though the racist covenant had long since lost legal force, it wasn’t until adulthood that Michael understood that the obscure line of text was part of the answer to the question he hadn’t been able to articulate when he was younger: How was it that his hometown had remained such a white space?
Our new Geospatial, Technical and Data Lead is keenly aware that his place in the story of racial covenants and housing discrimination is as one who has materially benefitted from structural racism. He is now driven to tell that story so that others can better understand their own roles in benefitting from and continuing to uphold white supremacy, and so that concrete data can be available for anyone who wants to understand this history.
Michael’s new role at Mapping Prejudice is part of a career shift to public history, after spending 20 years as a reporter and data journalist. His previous reporting and editing experiences are also big drivers in his interest in housing discrimination. While he was in the process of buying a home in California’s out-of-control housing market, he was helping to edit a series of articles on mortgage disparities nationwide for Reveal. He could see in real time that his success in gaining the financial security of homeownership depended completely on strenuous efforts by mortgage lenders and realtors to help him, while family members who had accumulated wealth were able to assist him with a down payment – all opportunities routinely denied to BIPOC citizens.
He later used Mapping Prejudice’s Hennepin County data to inform a Star Tribune project he co-reported, examining how single-family zoning laws keep Minnesota’s Twin Cities segregated.
Michael’s first priorities in his new job are to get new sets of deeds flowing through our technical pipeline, and to finish our in-progress work on Ramsey County covenants.