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Different Perspectives on “The Color of Law”

  • October 1, 2021

One of the most interesting parts of researching history is encountering different perspectives. Especially on complicated issues such as longstanding housing discrimination, it is vital to hear many voices, rather than just one.

A book by Richard Rothstein, “The Color of Law,” addresses redlining and decades of systemic housing discrimination targeting African American families. It provides a detailed look at governmental institutions behind restrictive lending practices, providing evidence that this discrimination is by no means a new practice. Such discrimination is by no means limited to housing; it infects every aspect of our society.

Many of our serious national problems either originate with residential segregation or have become intractable because of it. We have greater political and social conflict because we must add unfamiliarity with fellow citizens of different racial backgrounds to the challenges we confront in resolving legitimate disagreements about public issues. Racial polarization stemming from our separateness has corrupted our policies, permitting leaders who ignore the interests of white working-class voters to mobilize them with racial appeals.

Just as important as it is to have Rothstein’s sources and viewpoints, it is also important to hear alternate perspectives. A great example can be found in Noire Histoir‘s review of the book.

In the video book review, Natasha of Noire Histoir explains how the book, though a great resource, falls short in addressing the root issues in this sort of systemic discrimination. That is, that the solution to such discrimination is not necessarily integration, as it can too often be superficial attempts at diversity. Rather, one solution needs to be addressing the inequality which exists in the communities which already exist.

Facts are facts and can’t be argued with, but where I differ with the author is that he seems to regard the division of people itself as being the issue. His focus and the solution revolves around Black people being able to live in and around the same neighborhoods as white people. … Rather, I see unequal access to resources as the real problem.

Learn more about the history and legacy of housing discrimination by reading “The Color of Law” and watching Noire Histoir’s review.

For further reading about housing discrimination, redlining, and racial covenants in the Midwest, check out: