About a month or two ago, I was walking down 7th Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn, It was a lovely day. The sun shone down, but there was a crisp breeze to ease the heat. Spring had just arrived, and tulips and daisies and all sorts of other flowers were starting to bloom.
But as I walked I had a strange moment. I'm not sure why it rarely occurred to me, but I noticed that everyone on the block was white. The only people of color were working at the Chipotle, Starbucks or Just Salad. "What gives?" I thought. In a city that is 43% white, Park Slope was nearly 90% white and overwhelming upper middle class. I saw injustice there, but I couldn't explain why it was injustice or how this segregation was created. But no one else around me seemed to notice. Everyone else was going on about their day.
I thought about that moment as I read "Color Of Law" by Richard Rothstein. It's required reading for anyone who is interested in why do our neighborhoods look so segregated today, as it unearths recent history that has largely been forgotten. The common view, it seems, is that neighborhoods were not segregated because of anything the state did but by private citizens that wanted to not mix races. This is unequivocally false.