A Book Study on The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein
Sponsored by the Presbytery of Baltimore Dismantling Racism Team and In the Loop Ministry Group. (Full participation in the program will meet the Dismantling Racism training requirement.)
During our six-week exploration, knowledgeable speakers will present their expert insights using overarching themes in the text, starting with an explanation connecting the history of racism in the US, the development of public policy, supported by laws, based on pervasive racism. Other sessions will delve into de jure and de facto segregation and purposeful community displacement (including redlining, and eminent domain), homeownership and the wealth gap, housing and social determinants of health, and current housing policy.
We will discuss the social and political events of the late nineteenth century and the twentieth, in regard to laws that governed where people could live—neighborhood covenants, economic opportunities for housing constrained by laws embodied in government programs, and financing.
Six Mondays: April 8 – May 13
- Each session will last 1 and ½ hours: 6:30 – 8:00 pm
- We will begin with a welcome, and description of the sponsorship and purpose of the series—a one-book read by the Presbytery of Baltimore, offered to foster a common understanding of our history and present circumstances related to that history; how we, individually and collectively must understand, and acknowledge these connections, and purpose to act to change those outcomes.
- Selected speakers will provide a 15-20 minute presentation as a foundation for small group discussions, and perhaps share their thoughts for action.
- The small groups (3-8 people) will focus on a set of structured guide questions so that similar content will be explored in each group but also allowing for participants to share their concerns and ideas for action. Each discussion group will be facilitated by a member of the DRT and notes taken to capture the groups’ insights and ideas.
- Introduction & Overview: Preface
- Chapter 1 – If San Francisco, then Everywhere
Corey Henderson, DRPH, MPA is a doctor of public health. His research is rooted in social and behavioral sciences with an emphasis on historical trauma’s influence on the health of African Americans. Dr. Henderson has a background in information technology, qualitative research, health policy, and public health. He believes that healing is possible for every human being that acknowledges injury. Inasmuch as healing is a process, it is a process to restore health—complete and holistic.
De jure and De facto segregation and Displacement with Evans Paul, former City Planner
- Chapter 2 – Public Housing, Black Ghettos
- Chapter 3 – Racial Zoning
- Chapter 6 – White Flight
Home Ownership, Wealth, and Barriers to both, with James Parks, Ruling Elder at Hunting Ridge Presbyterian Church and former Presbytery Moderator.
- Chapter 4 – “Own Your Own Home”
- Chapter 7 – IRS Support and Compliant Regulators
- Chapter 10 – Suppressed Incomes
Housing, Social Determinants and their Impacts, with Dr. Lisa Cooper
- Chapter 5 – Private Agreements, Government Enforcement
Legacy of Redlining and Current Housing Policy
- Chapter 8 – Local Tactics
- Chapter 9 – State Sponsored Violence
- Chapter 11 – Looking Forward, Looking Back
- Chapter 12 – Considering Fixes
The final session will focus on a combined ‘town hall’ type discussion, to develop an ‘action plan’ and encourage individual commitments to act. We will provide the combined ideas for action from each group’s small discussions prior to the final session
Color is a concept we all know well. From the time we could speak and learn words, we were taught ‘colors’. Color is integral to human existence. We even assign meaning and values to colors; ‘true blue’, green with envy, red for stop or danger…or, love. We are not even sure that we ‘see’ the same thing, but we agree on calling what we see the same color. Perhaps what you see as blue (and call blue), I actually see as green, but call blue, in agreement with you.
No matter. The concept of color can apply to other things that we perceive too. Per Webster, color refers to outward appearance, and is often a deceptive show, giving the appearance of authenticity or plausibility, as though a right, or with authority or office, however, color is often just context.
In terms of the law, we prefer to think of law as blind, and fair to all, showing no favoritism, but it too can be obscured by ‘color’. The book, Color of Law, by Richard Rothstein, chronicles how law and public policy was, and still is, used (often initiated and perpetuated by the government), to circumvent and otherwise curtail the rights of people of color and Jews. In financial sectors, housing, education, and the general formation of our social constructs, the law provides the context of our action and inaction.
Our choices, and often our life chances—success, wealth, health and wellbeing, employment, and education are all too often tied to where we live. The quality of the air we breath, inside and outside of our homes, and other environmental factors, municipal services including public education, transportation—the ability to access employment, health care and other opportunities, housing—safety, lead, water, aging infrastructure, the nature of public safety and policing, food, and more are determined by where you live.