Updated: Nov 13, 2019
Until today I had no intention of interrupting this festive holiday season with any serious statement on what are the least favorite topics of a majority of Americans, “race” and “poverty”. Indeed, I had myself embraced the escapism that generally marks the holiday season by sending out the following holiday greeting via text and Facebook:
To usher in the Christmas spirit during your commute or as background music at work or home, click to enjoy a YouTube playlist featuring 21 diverse artists, the latest in the "Diverse Voices" series. Have a JOYful Christmas!!! PEACE,ts
But upon further reflection, I am persuaded that any authentic commemoration of this set of holidays must recognize our collective responsibility to help bring about the type of never-ending peace and orderly kingdom with judgment and justice prophesied over 700 years ago in the Book of Isaiah Chapter 9:7. As you take a break from the grind of daily work and have some time for personal reading, I urge you to equip yourself for this purpose by reading or listening to The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America (2017) by Richard Rothstein.
Rothstein authoritatively debunks the myth of “de-facto residential segregation” which blames the racial ghettos on individual choices by renters and homeowners who preferred self-segregation, on bankers who engaged in exclusionary practices such as redlining and sub-prime loans and on real estate agents who engaged in racial steering of potential buyers. Instead, Rothstein summarizes exhaustive evidence showing that our government at all levels—federal, state and local, including every presidential administration, including those otherwise associated with liberal or progressive policies--was complicit in the implementation of “de-jure residential segregation” on a nationwide basis, not just in the South.
After presenting an overwhelming case that decades of systematic governmental action is principally responsible for the residential segregation that is pervasive across our nation, Rothstein frames for readers a discussion about remedies for these Constitutional violations…. how we the people can bring about more justice in our America. He rejects both the arguments of those who believe that race-neutral policymaking can achieve justice after over a century of de-jure, racially explicit housing discrimination and those who believe that they can bring a lawsuit to win class-based reparations. Instead, Rothstein argues that the only viable solutions will depend on we the people becoming knowledgeable about these past bad acts and developing a collective political will to implement remedies such as removal of any vestiges of exclusionary zoning and enacting inclusionary zoning policies; enacting fair share development and Section 8 voucher policies such as those being implemented in Baltimore County and Montgomery County Maryland; and tax reform measures to reallocate billions in government tax deductions away from those who live in affluent neighborhoods that refuse to allow for their fair share of affordable housing units and instead utilize those funds to provide incentives for the development of affordable housing outside of racially segregated neighborhoods.
We may reasonably disagree about which of these and other remedies suggested by Rothstein in The Color of Law are even possible or politically viable, but I hope YOU won’t opt to detach from becoming more knowledgeable by reading this seminal work for yourself.
Contact DEI Facilitation & Consulting (386 473 1336) to discuss how Mr. Small can utilize The Color of Law as a framework for facilitating honest dialogue, mutual understanding and a basis for true collaboration between stakeholders in your organization.