The Economic Policy Institute congratulates research associate Richard Rothstein on being a long list finalist for his nonfiction book The Color of Law. Rothstein is one of ten finalists compiled by the National Book Awards.
In The Color of Law (published by Liveright in May 2017), Richard Rothstein argues with exacting precision and fascinating insight how segregation in America—the incessant kind that continues to dog our major cities and has contributed to so much recent social strife—is the byproduct of explicit government policies at the local, state, and federal levels.
Rothstein has spent years documenting the evidence that government not merely ignored discriminatory practices in the residential sphere, but promoted them. The impact has been devastating for generations of African Americans who were denied the right to live where they wanted to live, and raise and school their children where they thought best.
While the Fair Housing Act of 1968 provided modest enforcement to prevent future discrimination, it did nothing to reverse or undo a century’s worth of state-sanctioned violations of the Bill of Rights, particularly the Thirteenth Amendment which banned treating former slaves as second-class citizens. So the structural conditions established by 20th century federal policy endure to this day.
At every step of the way, Rothstein demonstrates, the government and our courts upheld racist policies to maintain the separation of whites and blacks—leading to the powder keg that has defined Ferguson, Baltimore, Charleston, and Chicago.
A panel of five judges selected the long list from 553 books submitted by publishers. The long list will be narrowed to five on October 4th. Winners will be revealed November 15th during a dinner ceremony in New York.