The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein

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In this carefully researched study, Richard Rothstein argues that the racial divide in the U.S. between black and white neighborhoods is not a just a matter of personal choice (de facto segregation) but is chiefly the result of government policies at the federal, state, and municipal levels (de jure segregation).

Rothstein traces blatantly racist policies, particularly from the time of the New Deal and after World War II, that barred African Americans from federally subsidized mortgages and also from buying middle class homes in new suburbs. This study also looks into the consequences of public housing, “racial zoning,” the Interstate system, and wage discrimination. Despite the Fair Housing Act of 1968, “the public policies of yesterday still shape the racial landscape of today.”

Like Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy, this book is essential reading to understand race relations in the U.S. today. (Liveright/W.W. Norton)

About the Author

Otto Selles teaches French at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Mich., and attends Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids.