The Color of Law is the reason I have been absolutely plowing through Romances I trust to help feed my brain some needed positive feelings as this book is a big important book about a topic that is rage inducing.
In The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America Richard Rothstein marches the reader through the various manners by which the U.S. government has actively created and enforced the racial segregation we see all around us by baking it into the law and then denying it has done (fuck you Chief Justice Roberts) so as it is blatantly unconstitutional. The book, published in 2017, explodes the myth that America’s cities came to be racially divided through de facto segregation and irrefutably demonstrates that it was de jure segregation—the laws and policy decisions passed by local, state, and federal governments—that got us to today.
This is a history of the modern American metropolis told by a leading authority on housing policy, who uses extensive research to chronicle a previously untold story that begins in the 1920s, showing how the 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. Rothstein shows 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 content of this book inspired rage in me that probably hasn’t come up since I read Evicted in 2017, the sheer frustration at the systems that are harming us, that are working as designed to harm instead of help. And that huge swaths of the population can’t be bothered to give a damn. But I can’t rate this book five stars, because as important as it is to understand de jure segregation Rothstein unfortunately writes in plodding layers, making for a slow and occasionally painful read.