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Wendell Pierce, Tired Of ‘Racism And Bigots,’ After Housing Rejection 

Wendell Pierce, Tired Of ‘Racism And Bigots,’ After Housing Rejection 

Wendell Pierce, Tired Of ‘Racism And Bigots,’ After Housing Rejection .Tony Award winner Wendell Pierce has alleged that he was denied a rental apartment in New York’s historically Black Harlem neighborhood because he is Black.

 

“Racism and bigots are real,” the actor posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, this week. “There are those who will do anything to destroy life’s journey for Black folks. When you deny our personal experiences, you are as vile and despicable.”

 

The 58-year-old actor expressed “righteous anger” over his treatment. “I’m on two TV series, ELSBETH and RAISING KANAN. I’m filming SUPERMAN. Two years ago, I finished the fourth season of JACK RYAN. Last year I finished a run on Broadway in DEATH OF A SALESMAN.

 

Even with my proof of employment, bank statements, and real estate holdings, a white apartment owner DENIED my application to rent the apartment… in Harlem, of all places,” he wrote.

 

In an interview, Pierce explained that he had taken a relative, who had recently graduated from Howard University, apartment hunting “to make sure he got a decent apartment and I was backing him up.” Despite offering the unnamed landlord a year’s rent in advance, he was denied on the technicality that as an actor, he could not show “steady, consistent employment.”

 

“I realized the application was designed that way to be discriminatory,” Pierce said in the interview, explaining that he “wanted to show the damaging effects of when bigotry is memorialized in law.” Pierce, who starred as Baltimore police detective William “Bunk” Moreland in *The Wire* and as CIA deputy director James Greer in *Jack Ryan*, later said he had brought up the experience only “as an example of the insidious nature of bigotry.”

 

This incident comes amid broader discussions about housing discrimination in New York. In May, New York’s governor, Kathy Hochul, lit the Empire State Building to commemorate the 56th anniversary of the Big Apple’s Fair Housing Act and reaffirmed the state’s commitment to combating housing discrimination. Hochul noted that New York “faces the most dire housing crisis in a generation” and that she was reaffirming the state’s “commitment to rooting out bias and discrimination in housing.”

 

Despite these pledges, enforcement remains a significant challenge. Last year, New York City Mayor Eric Adams pledged to crack down on landlords and brokers who reject apartment applicants based on how they pay the rent.

 

However, the city has delayed implementing an enforcement plan and slashed funding for a program meant to stop housing discrimination. According to Gothamist, there are roughly 11,000 families living in city shelters who qualify for rental-assistance vouchers but cannot find apartments.

 

Pierce’s comments drew a strong reaction online. One X user commented: “The denial of housing with your obvious qualifications was bad enough, but for this to happen in Harlem is the icing on the cake. I’m sorry you’ve been so directly affected by this broken system.” Another user expressed frustration over the persistent nature of housing discrimination, calling for stronger legal protections and enforcement to prevent such injustices.

 

The actor’s experience highlights the broader issue of how systemic racism and discriminatory practices continue to affect Black Americans, even those with significant achievements and financial stability. Pierce’s case is not an isolated incident but rather indicative of a deeper, more pervasive problem within housing markets across the country.

 

It demonstrates how discriminatory policies and practices can be subtly embedded within seemingly neutral criteria, such as the requirement for “steady, consistent employment,” which disproportionately affects individuals in non-traditional careers, like acting, freelancing, or gig work.

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