Berkeley Talks: A blueprint for housing reform
Richard Rothstein, a senior fellow at UC Berkeley's Othering and Belonging Institute, and housing policy expert Leah Rothstein, discuss their 2023 book, Just Action: How to Challenge Segregation Enacted Under the Color of Law.
In Berkeley Talks episode 184, Richard Rothstein, a senior fellow at UC Berkeley's Othering and Belonging Institute, and housing policy expert Leah Rothstein discuss their 2023 book, Just Action: How to Challenge Segregation Enacted Under the Color of Law. The conversation was moderated by Tamika Moss, founder and CEO of the Bay Area organization All Home.In the book, the father-daughter co-authors describe how unconstitutional government policy on the part of federal, state and local governments created the segregation that we know in this country today, where every metropolitan area has clearly defined areas that either are all white or mostly white, and clearly defined areas that are all Black or mostly Black.
"We had a myth term that what we had in this country was 'defacto segregation,' something that just happened because of private bigotry or discriminatory actions on the part of private businesses or people just liking to live with each other of the same race ... something that just happened by accident," said Richard Rothstein, author of the 2017 book, The Color of Law, and a distinguished fellow of the Economic Policy Institute and senior fellow emeritus of the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
"And the reason that that distinction is so important is because if it just happened by accident, then we might not like it, but it's easy to think that the only way it's going to unhappen is by accident. But when we understand that this is the creation of racially explicit written public policy on the part of federal, state and local governments ... (and) if we take our responsibilities as citizens of this country seriously, then we know we have an obligation to fix it, to undo this unconstitutional system.""If we want to remedy policies and actions of our government that were explicitly race-based, we can't do that with race-neutral policies," added Leah Rothstein, later in the discussion. "If we tie our remedies to the specific actions of the government that were racially explicit, that is a more promising way forward than just a policy that helps everybody. It doesn't address a racially explicit crime that our government committed in the past. So, as we argue, racially explicit crimes require racially explicit solutions."