Katie Nodjimbadem in Smithsonian Magazine:
A narrative of racially discriminatory landlords and bankers—all independent actors—has long served as an explanation for the isolation of African-Americans in certain neighborhoods in large cities. But this pervasive assumption rationalizing residential segregation in the United States ignores the long history of federal, state and local policies that generated the residential segregation found across the country today.
In The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, Richard Rothstein, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, aims to flip the assumption that the state of racial organization in American cities is simply a result of individual prejudices. He untangles a century’s worth of policies that built the segregated American city of today. From the first segregated public housing projects of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, to the 1949 Housing Act that encouraged white movement to the suburbs, to unconstitutional racial zoning ordinances enacted by city governments, Rothstein substantiates the argument that the current state of the American city is the direct result of unconstitutional, state-sanctioned racial discrimination.