Color Of Law

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Lauded by Ta-Nehisi Coates for his brilliant and fine understanding of the machinery of government policy (The Atlantic), Richard Rothstein has painstakingly documented how American cities, from San Francisco to Boston, became so racially divided. Rothstein describes how federal, state, and local governments systematically imposed residential segregation: with undisguised racial zoning, public housing that purposefully segregated previously mixed communities, subsidies for builders to create whites-only suburbs, tax exemptions for institutions that enforced segregation, and support for violent resistance to African Americans in white neighborhoods. He demonstrates that such policies still influence tragedies in places like Ferguson and Baltimore. Scholars have separately described many of these policies, but until now, no author has brought them together to explode the myth of de facto segregation arising from private prejudice or the unintended consequences of economic forces. Like The New Jim Crow, Rothstein's groundbreaking history forces us to face the obligation to remedy our unconstitutional past.