The Color of Law brilliantly recounted how government at all levels created segregation. Just Action describes how we can begin to undo it.
In his best-selling book The Color of Law, Richard Rothstein demolished the de facto segregation myth that black and white Americans live separately by choice, providing “the most forceful argument ever published on how federal, state, and local governments gave rise to the reinforced neighborhood segregation” (William Julius Wilson). This landmark work—through its nearly one million copies sold—has helped to define the fractious age in which we live.
The Color of Law’s unrefuted account has become conventional wisdom. But how can we begin to undo segregation’s damage? “It’s rare for a writer to feel obligated to be so clear on solutions to the problems outlined in a previous book,” writes E. J. Dionne, yet Richard Rothstein—aware that twenty-first-century segregation continues to promote entrenched inequality—has done just that, teaming with housing policy expert Leah Rothstein to write Just Action, a blueprint for concerned citizens and community leaders.
As recent headlines informed us, twenty million Americans participated in racial justice demonstrations in 2020. Although many displayed “Black Lives Matter” window and lawn signs, few considered what could be done to redress inequality in their own communities. Page by page, Just Action offers programs that activists and their supporters can undertake in their own communities to address historical inequities, providing bona fide answers, based on decades of study and experience, in a nation awash with memes and internet theories.
Often forced to respond to social and political outrage, banks, real estate agencies, and developers, among other institutions, have apologized for past actions. But their pledges—some of them real, others thoroughly hollow—to improve cannot compensate for existing damage. Just Action shows how community groups can press firms that imposed segregation to finally take responsibility for reversing the harm, creating victories that might finally challenge residential segregation and help remedy America’s profoundly unconstitutional past.