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St. Pius X Catholic High School

The color of law

305.8 ROT

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The color of law : a forgotten history of how our government segregated America

Rothstein, Richard, author.

New York ; London : Liveright Publishing Corporation, a division of W. W. Norton & Company [2017]

xvii, 345 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm.

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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 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 Minneapolis 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" (Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund), as Rothstein's invaluable examination shows that only by relearning this history can we finally pave the way for the nation to remedy its unconstitutional past.

Due 12/17/18


All copies at St. Pius X Catholic High School are out and the next copy is due back 12/17/18

Editorial Reviews

Review by Publishers Weekly.
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. While remaining cognizant of recent changes in legislation and implementation, Rothstein is keenly alert to the continuing effects of past practices. He leads the reader through Jim Crow laws, sundown towns, restrictive covenants, blockbusting, law enforcement complicity, and subprime loans. The book touches on the Federal Housing Administration and the creation of public housing projects, explaining how these were transformed into a "warehousing system for the poor." Rothstein also notes the impact of Woodrow Wilson's racist hiring policies, the New Deal-era Fair Labor Standards that excluded "industries in which African Americans predominated, like agriculture," and the exclusion of African-American workers from the construction trades, making clear how directly government contributed to segregation in labor. And Rothstein shows exactly why a simplistic North/South polarization lacks substance, using copious examples from both regions. This compassionate and scholarly diagnosis of past policies and prescription for our current racial maladies shines a bright light on some shadowy spaces. 13 illus. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Review by Library Journal.
Conventional narratives about segregation in 21st-century America hold that persistent racial disparities are a product of de facto segregation-the summation of individual preferences-rather than de jure segregation enforced (unconstitutionally) by law. Legal scholar Rothstein (NAACP Legal Defense Fund; Univ. of Calif., Berkeley) disabuses us of this "too-comfortable notion" that the state has not incentivised, and in some cases explicitly required, discrimination against African Americans. Rather than being an accident of privately held prejudice, Rothstein's work argues that segregation across the long 20th century was a product of federal, state, and local housing and land-use policies that directly and intentionally led to the suppression of black family wealth and well-being. To support his argument, he draws on extensive historical research that documents government efforts to create and enforce segregation. Each chapter focuses on a particular tactic such as public housing, racial covenants, or state-sanctioned violence. The final section calls on citizens to accept collective responsibility and remedy state wrongs through public policy. VERDICT This indictment of government-sponsored segregation is a timely work that will find broad readership among those asking "How did we arrive here?" and "What next?"-Anna J. Clutterbuck-Cook, Massachusetts Historical Soc. © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Booklist.
Recent demonstrations in cities across America against the murder of African Americans by police returned the question of segregation in housing to the fore. While the term de facto segregation is often used to assert that this is the result of private decisions or personal acts of discrimination, Rothstein argues that the real history of segregation is primarily that of explicit or de jure government policy, with personal actions secondary. From wartime public housing to the FHA refusing to insure mortgages for African Americans and many cases in between, government policy at all levels violated the Reconstruction-era constitutional amendments mandating equal protections. Ghettos were deliberately created by official policy. Rothstein provides plenty of evidence to support each example, including interviews, court cases, law codes, and newspapers, along with secondary sources on each aspect of government discrimination. There is an extensive FAQ section for further discussion. This is essential reading for anyone interested in social justice, poverty, American history, and race relations, and its narrative nonfiction style will also draw general readers. This is a timely work that should find a place in the current national discussion.--Pekoll, James Copyright 2017 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.

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