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The Color of Law Book Club

February 13, 2021 @ 10:00 am - 11:30 am

When? 8 sessions, every other Saturday morning via Zoom, starting at 10:00 a.m.

What’s the overall format?  Directed reading and discussion — to include read-ahead chapters and questions

How do I participate? The group will meet via Zoom. Please contact Brian to sign up.

Why a book club, and why a book on history? Our elders have often talked about fostering a strong reading culture within Redeeming Grace Church. And, in his 2016 book on that very topic, C. Christopher Smith specifically addresses the importance of reading history together as a congregation. As Smith puts it, “[h]istory, sociology, and cultural studies [as nonfiction types] can help us understand better how our cultures have taken the form they have and can help us name the types of brokenness in and around us.” (Reading for the Common Good: How Books Help our Churches and Neighborhoods Flourish, p. 66)

Why are we reading this particular historical work? The Color of Law is a historical analysis of mid-to-late 20th century federal, state, and local public policies designed to foster racially-segregated neighborhoods. As a whole, the book differentiates what the author calls “de facto segregation,” segregation based on private activities (e.g. real estate agents, “white flight”), from “de jure segregation,” or segregation intentionally promoted through government policy. In reading Rothstein’s book, the overall goal is twofold. First, we want book club participants to walk away with a richer understanding of, and appreciation for, some of the more painful aspects of our national history — aspects that can be overlooked in conservative evangelical circles. Second, we want to spur greater thinking in our congregation about being a church community that is unified and, at the same time, diverse. If we want to do Christian ministry and advocacy effectively and lovingly in a diverse environment, coming to grips with our mutual history is a key building block.

What is Richard Rothstein’s background? Rothstein is currently a Distinguished Fellow of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), and a Fellow of the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and of the Haas Institute, University of California Berkeley School of Law. A graduate of Harvard, Rothstein’s career has focused on US educational policy and achievement gaps, and between 1999 and 2002, he served as the national education columnist for the New York Times. The Color of Law builds upon Rothstein’s 2014 report, The Making of Ferguson.

Where can I get the book, and how much is it? To date, the best price is the Kindle version on Amazon.com ($7.99 for the last several months). Otherwise, a new paperback copy is around $14-$15 at Amazon.com, bookfinder.com and similar sellers.