In this groundbreaking historical past of the trendy American metropolis, Richard Rothstein, a number one authority on housing coverage, explodes the parable that America’s cities got here to be racially divided via de facto segregation – that’s, via particular person prejudices, revenue variations, or the actions of non-public establishments like banks and actual property companies. Rather, The Color of Law incontrovertibly makes clear that it was de jure segregation – the legal guidelines and coverage selections handed by native, state, and federal governments – that really promoted the discriminatory patterns that proceed to this present day.
Through extraordinary revelations and intensive analysis that Ta-Nehisi Coates has lauded as “sensible” (The Atlantic), Rothstein involves chronicle nothing lower than an untold story that begins within the 1920s, exhibiting how this course of of de jure segregation started with specific racial zoning, as hundreds of thousands of African Americans moved in an important historic migration from the south to the north.
As Jane Jacobs established in her basic The Death and Life of Great American Cities, it was the deeply flawed city planning of the 1950s that created many of the impoverished neighborhoods we all know. Now, Rothstein expands our understanding of this historical past, exhibiting how authorities insurance policies led to the creation of formally segregated public housing and the demolition of beforehand built-in neighborhoods. While city areas quickly deteriorated, the good American suburbanization of the post-World War II years was spurred on by federal subsidies for builders on the situation that no houses be offered to African Americans. Finally, Rothstein exhibits how police and prosecutors brutally upheld these requirements by supporting violent resistance to Black households in White neighborhoods.
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibited future discrimination however did nothing to reverse residential patterns that had grow to be deeply embedded. Yet latest outbursts of violence in cities like Baltimore, Ferguson, and Minneapolis present us exactly how the legacy of these earlier eras contributes to persistent racial unrest. Rothstein’s invaluable examination exhibits that solely by relearning this historical past can we lastly pave the way in which for the nation to treatment its unconstitutional previous.
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