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The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America Paperback – May 1, 2018
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From the Publisher
- Pete Buttigieg, author of Shortest Way Home: One Mayor's Challenge and a Model for America's Future
“A powerful and disturbing history of residential segregation in America.... One of the great strengths of Rothstein’s account is the sheer weight of evidence he marshals.... While the road forward is far from clear, there is no better history of this troubled journey than The Color of Law.”
- David Oshinsky, New York Times Book Review
“Masterful… The Rothstein book gathers meticulous research showing how governments at all levels long employed racially discriminatory policies to deny blacks the opportunity to live in neighborhoods with jobs, good schools and upward mobility.”
- Jared Bernstein, Washington Post
“Essential… Rothstein persuasively debunks many contemporary myths about racial discrimination…. Only when Americans learn a common―and accurate―history of our nation’s racial divisions, he contends, will we then be able to consider steps to fulfill our legal and moral obligations. For the rest of us, still trying to work past 40 years of misinformation, there might not be a better place to start than Rothstein’s book.”
- Rachel M. Cohen, Slate
“Rothstein’s work should make everyone, all across the political spectrum, reconsider what it is we allow those in power to do in the name of 'social harmony' and 'progress' with more skepticism… The Color of Law shows what happens when Americans lose their natural rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, or in the case of African-Americans, when there are those still waiting to receive them in full.”
- Carl Paulus, American Conservative
“Virtually indispensable… I can only implore anyone interested in understanding the depth of the problem to read this necessary book.”
- Don Rose, Chicago Daily Observer
“Rothstein’s comprehensive and engrossing book reveals just how the U.S. arrived at the ‘systematic racial segregation we find in metropolitan areas today,’ focusing in particular on the role of government.... This compassionate and scholarly diagnosis of past policies and prescription for our current racial maladies shines a bright light on some shadowy spaces.”
- Publishers Weekly [starred review]
About the Author
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We were "lucky" there was no violence, many neighbors just ostracized us, and a few wanted to buy us out. Other Black families who moved out found them all put into the same block. Imagine in the 60's in an era where there was no internet, faxes, bulletin boards, nor large realtors like Century 21. Realtors were all local, and territorial and yet they all decided to forgo competition and agreed to block place all the black families in one block where they can be "monitored".
Every time I hear someone spread that myth "Oh Black people don't want to move into white neighborhoods because they love being among their own" I straighten them out, African Americans never had a choice!
My shock is that of my white privilege hitting up against the racist reality from which I benefit. I can’t hold on to the fact of intentional governmental, societal and cultural segregation against the everyday belief that we are a liberal, tolerant and diverse society. And because I am surrounded by my own kind, we share our collective amnesia which allows us to ponder why is it that African-Americans haven’t worked their way out of poverty.
‘The Color of Law’ is a great book because it is focused on disputing the legal amnesia of the Robert’s Court that plays to the safety of continued white privilege by denying the reality of decades of intentional racism which manifests itself as segregation. Rothstein marshals his evidence like a lawyer to show all the ways in which this nation knowingly pursues policies to keep the American dream white and restricted.
Incidentally the book makes it clear that American racism is cold and systemic. It is merciless and as relentless as a shark. White people love to claim that they aren’t racist not understanding that when they do that, they are admitting to the racism they refuse to see. American racism isn’t about an individual white person’s warm feelings towards an African American. No doubt many slave-owners had warm feeling about individual African-American slaves. No, American racism is about the system that whites pretend not to know exists that gives them the freedom to like individual African-Americans while spouting ‘law and order’ slogans. It is time for us white people to own our racism and expose our comfortable lies that make the system work. Only then can we start the hard work we have ahead of us.
Top international reviews
The most disconcerting thing about this is that it the policies have been supported by the state and federal government. Not just in the Southern States, but throughout the US. Also, whilst these 'racial' discriminatory practices are no longer openly applied, their effects have carried over into the lives of the children, grandchildren, and other generations of African American families, also keeping them in poverty.
This is another excellent and well-researched history of discriminatory practices in the US, showing that despite the idea of the "American Dream", where anyone can achieve whatever they want, inequality has been and continues to be a feature of US society.