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Publisher's Summary

In this groundbreaking history of the modern American metropolis, Richard Rothstein, a leading authority on housing policy, explodes the myth that America's cities came to be racially divided through de facto segregation - that is, through individual prejudices, income differences, or the actions of private institutions like banks and real estate agencies. Rather, The Color of Law incontrovertibly makes clear that it was de jure segregation - the laws and policy decisions passed by local, state, and federal governments - that actually promoted the discriminatory patterns that continue to this day.

Through extraordinary revelations and extensive research that Ta-Nehisi Coates has lauded as "brilliant" (The Atlantic), Rothstein comes to chronicle nothing less than an untold story that begins in the 1920s, showing how this process of de jure segregation began with explicit racial zoning, as millions of African Americans moved in a great historical migration from the south to the north.

As Jane Jacobs established in her classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities, it was the deeply flawed urban planning of the 1950s that created many of the impoverished neighborhoods we know. Now, Rothstein expands our understanding of this history, showing how government policies led to the creation of officially segregated public housing and the demolition of previously integrated neighborhoods. While urban areas rapidly deteriorated, the great American suburbanization of the post-World War II years was spurred on by federal subsidies for builders on the condition that no homes be sold to African Americans. Finally, Rothstein shows how police and prosecutors brutally upheld these standards by supporting violent resistance to black families in white neighborhoods.

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibited future discrimination but did nothing to reverse residential patterns that had become deeply embedded. Yet recent outbursts of violence in cities like Baltimore, Ferguson, and Minneapolis show us precisely how the legacy of these earlier eras contributes to persistent racial unrest. Rothstein's invaluable examination shows that only by relearning this history can we finally pave the way for the nation to remedy its unconstitutional past.

©2017 Richard Rothstein (P)2017 Recorded Books

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  • Story

These truths are hard on the soul, but are a must.

We live in a society which practices blindness. So many have been bludgeoned for the freedom of the majority but have yet to enjoy the freedom that our Constitution proclaims. We cannot be free or whole until we face out story and havoc it has wreaked upon African Americans.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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It is clear that poverty is not an accident.

I hope that a number of educators will read this book and stop perpetuating myth that low-income African-American Children and Families are somehow incapable of overcoming the poverty and blighted conditions that they were born into. With the correct information, attitude and out look hope is possible, progress can only be made on facts not fiction.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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An essential read

Puts the visible, yet seemingly mysterious effects of a long history of segregation into context and perspective. A must read for anyone who's ever wondered why we are so siloed, or why "those people" are the way that they - over there.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Ale
  • Gulfport, MS, US
  • 09-11-17

Amazing book

This book offers an vivid description of a very real problem in the United States. I rn highly recommend it!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Excellent telling of untold history

Well written, factual discussion and history of the various urban housing and development laws which have directly augmented racial segregation in America. This must be taught and explained to people, especially the youth, in order to continue our march toward racial harmony in this nation.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Better suited to print than audio

This book relates the essential, and depressing, history of legal segregation in the US. However the book is structured predominantly of lists with scant connective tissue in between. If you listen to it, you come away with many examples of how the law was used to promote racial segregation. But you don’t get an integrated picture of why this happened or how the legal pieces fit together. If you were reading it in print format, you would skim some of the examples and tarry over the connective segments. I recommend doing this, because the story is one Americans need to know.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Disparities Explained

This is a well researched academic book written for the masses. The author provides a matter of fact review of de juris discriminatory and unconstitutional practices leading to the social and economic disparities currently plaguing American communities.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A must read!!

One of the most riveting books I’ve ever read, it was impossible to stop listening. There were moments that brought me nearly to tears and I finished with so many questions on my mind. This should be required reading in order to dispel the myth of de facto segregation.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great education of issues not taught in school

Great book covering a topic whitewashed from history. We must preserve history to learn from it, and stop being offended by it. When offensiveness changes history we all lose the facts that support the underlying lessons needed to avoid repeating the same mistakes. While I disagree with some aspects of the book, I highly recommend. As one who works in the affordable housing industry, I found this book fascinating and motivating.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Eye-Opening!

Very informative, eye opening and captivating. Excellent book for any audience with an open mind.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful