In this episode we speak with Umar Lee of St. Louis, an activist, author, and former cab driver. Lee became known to many during the 2014 protests in Ferguson following the killing of Michael Brow. He was also a vocal presence during the debate surrounding the entry of ride sharing services in St. Louis such as Lyft and Uber.
We spoke with Lee about his upbringing in North St. Louis County, how things have changed, and how in some ways the scene has been set for years for unrest. Regarded by many to be a controversial figure, Lee's critique of the region is clearly a product of his love for St. Louis. In the podcast we touch on Lee's conversion to Islam, his time away from St. Louis including a stint in New York, and his return to St. Louis, and why he often rails against "Hipsters" on social media.
Umar can be found on Twitter @penofumar.
David will be speaking at SPACE Architecture + Design this Thursday. The event is free and open to the public, but you are asked to please click here to register. The event is presented by nextSTL and Left Bank Books. Copies of Chain of Title will be available to purchase.
In this episode we speak with David Dayen, author of Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street's Great Foreclosure Fraud, published in May of this year. David was awarded the Studs and Ida Terkel Prize, awarded annually to a first-time author who demonstrates a "commitment to exploring aspects of America that are underrepresented by mainstream media".
We discuss the broad, national foreclosure crisis, which was (and is) really is criminal mortgage fraud. The centuries old basic tenant of American land ownership is being undermined. At times, who owns a home can't be proven. Millions of Americans have experienced foreclosure, some are still in their homes, banks have paused proceedings in places where home prices have not yet rebounded. While the "crisis" may seem to be our rearview mirror, its effects are long lasting and will take decades to be resolved.
While centered in the "sand states" of Florida, Arizona, Nevada, and California, where the majority of new home construction occurred in the past decade, cash out, interest-only, and adjustable rate mortgages were (and are) common in Missouri. In St. Louis, mortgage products often focused on the African-American homeowner, who may have had equity in their homes.
David Dayen is a journalist who writes about economics and finance. He is a contributing writer to Salon.com and The Intercept, and a weekly columnist for The Fiscal Times and The New Republic. He also writes for The American Prospect, Vice, The Huffington Post, and more. He has been a guest on MSNBC, CNN, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, Russia Today, NPR, Pacifica Radio and Air America Radio. He lives in Los Angeles, where prior to writing about politics he had a 15-year career as a television producer and editor.