In 2017 Richard Rothstein published his devastating book called The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America (New York: Liveright, 2017), 342pp. The book won numerous awards, and was on just about everyone's list of "best books of the year."
Rothstein argues that American segregation has been driven not just by personal or private choices, which view he considers a mendacious myth and a comforting illusion, but primarily by state action. Our racial divide didn't "just happen;" it was a "purposeful imposition" by the government. Until 1968 and the Fair Housing Act, for over two centuries every level of government—federal, state, and local, actively and aggressively mandated racist policies. So did every other important social institution—churches (both liberal and conservative), the courts, school boards and textbooks, hospitals, developers, police, insurance companies, universities, the military, banks and builders. The "core argument," of his book, says Rothstein, is that "African Americans were unconstitutionally denied the means and the right to integration into middle-class neighborhoods, and because this denial was state-sponsored, the nation is obligated to remedy it."
On NPR's All Things Considered (May 17, 2017), Ari Shapiro interviewed Rothstein about his book, and how federal housing policies in the 1940s and '50s mandated segregation and undermined the ability of black families to own homes and build wealth.
Dan Clendenin: email@example.com