2nd period APUSH
A Segregated America that Prevails
Richard Rothstein: The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, LIVERIGHT PUBLISHING CORPORATION/ W. W. Norton & Company, Copyright 2017, 368 pages, Historical Nonfiction
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America was founded on the central theme that the American government enforced housing segregation to discreetly allow the discrimination of African Americans in favor of the white population. In the preface, a topic that circulates repeatedly throughout this book is the creation of “ a caste system in this country, with African Americans kept exploited and geographically separate by racially explicit government policies. Although most of these policies are now off the books, they have never been remedied and their effects endured "(page XVII). The entirety of the book addresses major inequalities by providing various in-depth details of events that focus on racial injustices faced by African Americans.
The term de jure segregation, was frequently brought up in most of the chapters due to its meaning of segregation by law and public policy. The author provides examples of how the government supported racist ideals as seen in the New Deal case, benefiting whites over African Americans. This shows how the government ignored African American rights in favor of white people. De jure segregation keys in on the separation of black and white due to their economic and racial standpoint which resulted in each race living in either a good or bad neighborhood. This concept informed readers on how African Americans struggled to achieve economic stability in a society that looked down on them in addition to a government that made better living conditions difficult to reach based on the color of their skin. This book explains how de jure segregation "is that (because) most black families could not afford to live in predominantly white middle-class communities and still are unable to do so. African American isolation, the argument goes, reflects their low incomes, not de jure segregation. Racial segregation will persist until more African Americans improve their educations and then are able to earn enough to move out of high-poverty neighborhoods" (page 153). The author goes to refute this reasoning by explaining how government policies purposefully kept African American incomes low leading to the wealth gap between African Americans and white people. Some of these government policies included taxing African Americans more than white people. Chapter 10 began by restating the purpose of the book to show governmental and economic policies that contributed and continues to contribute to the discrimination in America. Each chapter followed a similar pattern of going into depth on certain concepts like de jure segregation.
I will admit, it was difficult to read such an in-depth book because, as a reader, I tend to focus on the interesting points in the chapter instead of the detail. Rothstein got all of his arguments across to the reader and I believe the biggest strengths of this book was the imagery because it painted to the reader of how real the social inequalities were by giving the reader a glimpse into how life was in such a difficult time. The only weakness was that the book was so meticulous that I got bored in certain sections. Overall, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America was a good book and I give it 3 out of 4 stars! I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in how racial segregation impacted our society’s roots.