Archive for August 7, 2022

“THE COLOR OF LAW.”   Leave a comment

I JUST POSTED A REVIEW OF THE COLOR OF LAW: A FORGOTTEN HISTORY OF HOW OUR GOVERNMENT SEGREGATED AMERICA. Richard Rothstein.

Definitely needs reading. Definitely not at bedtime.

With a Doctorate in Social Psychology and years of professor-ing, plus a year of shared readings and discussions via a Zoom group during the COVID quarantine, I thought I had constructed a pretty strong cognitive structure of knowledge and understanding about racial matters. But Rothstein’s book has revealed and repaired the cracks in my structure one nail of reinforcing fact at a time. As a person with a pretty hefty load of compassion ability I found it painful reading – not to be read at bedtime.

At about an eighth of the way through the book I looked at the remaining width of the softcover book in my hands and thought, “What more torture/horror can there be?” And there was more – and then more. Now that I’ve finished, the thoughts keep coming. How can humans be so cruel to each other? How can one deal with the fact that inborn appearance condemns one to limited options no matter what one can do or accomplish that would evoke honors in the white world? How frustrating to suffer the physical restraint of red-lining and then be blamed for the results of living in a crowded space.  How would it be to raise a productive and healthy child in a world where he or she is defined from the beginning as inferior? How would it be to have one’s productive and successful neighborhood destroyed to make way for a highway to convenience the people who can live where you are not permitted to live? How could it be that I didn’t notice in graduate school that none of my classmates supported by the GI bill were black?

I’m ranting. But then there were my other thoughts. What have been the strengths of a people so deliberately restrained who could still be loving, joyful, dedicated patriotic contributors to our country? What might I learn from that?

 Finally, I find myself wondering how this knot in the freedom of our special country can be loosened? I find myself thinking how beautiful it would be if all our people could enjoy the kind of responsible opportunities described in “My Father’s House.” If this were fully the land of the free? Remember that simple point from your Intro Psych class? Punishment prevents behavior. Reward encourages it … ?

But this is a book review. What did I think of the book – as if I hadn’t already told you? It’s an important book but I wouldn’t choose it for the first assigned text in an advanced course in racial equity. I’m afraid it would drive some people to resign from the rest of the program. It’s painful.

Now I’ll go look at the other reviews of this book.

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