The Color of Law

The Color of Law

A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America

Book - 2017 | First edition.
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In this groundbreaking history of the modern American metropolis, Richard Rothstein, a leading authority on housing policy, explodes the myth that America's cities came to be racially divided through de facto segregation--that is, through individual prejudices, income differences, or the actions of private institutions like banks and real estate agencies. Rather, The Color of Law incontrovertibly makes it clear that it was de jure segregation--the laws and policy decisions passed by local, state, and federal governments--that actually promoted the discriminatory patterns that continue to this day. Through extraordinary revelations and extensive research that Ta-Nehisi Coates has lauded as "brilliant" (The Atlantic), Rothstein comes to chronicle nothing less than an untold story that begins in the 1920s, showing how this process of de jure segregation began with explicit racial zoning, as millions of African Americans moved in a great historical migration from the South to the North. As Jane Jacobs established in her classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities, it was the deeply flawed urban planning of the 1950s that created many of the impoverished neighborhoods we know. Now, Rothstein expands our understanding of this history, showing how government policies led to the creation of officially segregated public housing and the demolition of previously integrated neighborhoods. While urban areas rapidly deteriorated, the great American suburbanization of the post-World War II years was spurred on by federal subsidies for builders on the condition that no homes be sold to African Americans. Finally, Rothstein shows how police and prosecutors brutally upheld these standards by supporting violent resistance to black families in white neighborhoods. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibited future discrimination but did nothing to reverse residential patterns that had become deeply embedded. Yet recent outbursts of violence in cities like Baltimore, Ferguson, and Milwaukee show us precisely how the legacy of these earlier eras contributes to persistent racial unrest. "The American landscape will never look the same to readers of this important book," comments Sherrilyn A. Ifill. Indeed, Rothstein's invaluable examination demonstrates that only by relearning American urban history can we finally pave the way for the nation to remedy its unconstitutional past. -- Inside jacket flaps.
Publisher: New York : Liveright Publishing Corporation, a division of W.W. Norton & Company, [2017]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781631492853
1631492853
Branch Call Number: 305.800973 ROTHS
Characteristics: xvii, 345 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm

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Hillsboro_JeanineM Oct 06, 2020

Sobering! I am stunned by this book and the realization of having grown up in a country (the United States) that has essentially practiced Apartheid. In college, I became aware of Nelson Mandela and Apartheid in South Africa but I have been completely ignorant about racial injustice and enforced segregation in my own country. There's an abundance of detailed information on de jure segregation. I found it best to read a chapter then take a break as it is a lot of information to process.

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pateljh
Sep 24, 2020

This is a reveling and disturbing book on how mistreated were African-Americans up until now! I used to blame Southern Whites for all the ills of African-Americans. This book tells us ALL OF US are equally responsible, either as direct actors or bystanders.

I think a clever law firm can bring a Class-Action Law Suite on behalf of all African-Americans for damages of hundreds of Billions of dollars from Federal, State, City governments, Banks, Insurance Companies, developers and many more!

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mmichel83
Aug 17, 2020

the writing, at times, can be a little dry, wonky, and dense, but this is a very good summation of the sins of our past and should be on the "must read" shelf of anyone looking to better their understanding of not just urban, but all of modern American history, especially those of us who live in such a segregated metropolis

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DavidSpencer99
Feb 01, 2020

When I hear a commentator like Jonah Goldberg bad-mouthing FDR’s administration, I can write it off as grousing by the losing side in America’s history of societal improvement. The Color of Law shows how the same administration promoted redlining and denied well-deserved loans in return for Southern Democrats’ support. While it’s disheartening to know how far short of our ideals we as a nation have fallen, Rothstein’s essential history shows how “we as a nation have avoided contemplating remedies because we’ve because we’ve indulged in the comfortable delusion that our segregation has not resulted primarily from state action and so, we conclude, there is not much we are required to do about it.” [p. 215] it’s good to know that liberal writers can at least own up to the shortcomings, honestly acknowledge mea culpa, and offer solutions, not merely joust with ideological windmills.

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patcarstensen
Oct 29, 2019

It makes a good case. Unfortunately, he is also realistic about the low chances for any solutions.

a
acornsandnuts
Apr 05, 2019

An essential read.

d
domthom
Aug 08, 2018

I thought this was going to be dull at first with fact after fact. However I'm glad I stuck with the book. It really goes into why areas / cities are mapped out in certain demographics today. Many of the stories in this book are disheartening but it's also good that they're finally being brought to light. I advise others to read to get a better glance at the obstacles some were placed with and against still affecting many to this day.

l
lynelliot
Jul 15, 2018

A well-documented history of the myriad ways in which laws and policies at all levels of government intentionally created segregation in America well into the the 1960's, and in some instances even more recently. The author clearly explains the ways in which present-day segregation and racial inequality are in large part the result of these laws and policies. He also outlines some potential remedies, but his goal is first and foremost to educate all Americans about our "forgotten history." An important book.

c
cjmccl18
Apr 16, 2018

Richard Rothstein highlights policies along with anecdotes that demonstrate the racism and alienation of African Americans from the mainstream of society. With the inability to successfully integrate with policies that benefited their white counterparts, African Americans were designated to less affluent neighborhoods that didn't provide the best accommodations. While we can be proud as a country of the progress that has been made, their is still so much to go regarding equal opportunity for POC. While I don't believe this current administration has any interest in remedying or at least acknowledging it the problem, this book should emphasize the policies or cases needed to improve our country for everyone!

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peacebenow
Apr 15, 2018

I'd recommend this book to be on every US citizen's reading list. It's a sad, disgraceful yet extremely enlightening book. I had no idea how poorly African Americans have been treated in the 20th century by almost every sector of the US government, state and local Governments. Discrimination of African Americans continues in many polices and policing to this day. Segregation is something we should all work actively to end esp those in positions of power and have the ability to influence the masses. This information in this book should be included in the history of every classroom in America. Perhaps it would help create increased tolerance and empathy which seems like what we need now.

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