May 11, 2021
By Darcel Rockett
If you had to guess a shame that categorizes Chicago, what would it be?
For filmmaker and native Chicagoan Bruce Orenstein, the shame lies with the people, policies and local and federal institutions that segregated Black and white communities and determined that neighborhoods of color were unworthy of investment.
Orenstein explores those policies and the decision-making in his five-part documentary series, “The Shame of Chicago.” One episode, “The Color Tax: The Origins of the Modern-Day Racial Wealth Gap,” centers on homes that were sold to Black families through installment contracts — for much more than white buyers would pay — and how and why contract-sellers were allowed to do it, plus what happened when Black families organized to fight back through the Contract Buyers League.
The episode will be screened Thursday during a virtual event hosted by the Chicago Architecture Center.