The Past is Prologue

The Racialized Landscape of Opportunity in America

In this political moment, racist subtext is becoming text. Against this backdrop, powerful research is showing racism to be more than a historical footnote, but a force that remains deeply embedded in the policies that shape critical aspects of our lives—from where to live to how we bank.

In The Color of LawRichard Rothstein synthesizes that America's cities came to be segregated—and still are today—not just through de facto individual prejudices, but by deliberate policies enacted by federal, state, and municipal governments through discriminatory zoning, taxation, subsidies, and explicit redlining laws. And in The Color of MoneyMehrsa Baradaran claims that the racial wealth gap isn't just the failure to atone for the oppression imposed by slavery and Jim Crow, but the product of contemporary acts that maintain their legacy by creating inescapable economic traps for black banks.

Both books argue that acknowledging this racial divide and focusing on the government structures that segregate economic wealth is the first step to closing that gap.

Join New America's Family-Centered Social Policy program for a conversation with Rothstein and Baradaran, along with local community organizers and development experts, to discuss the separate and highly unequal landscape of economic opportunity in America—and what needs to be done about it.


Richard Rothstein
Distinguished Fellow, Economic Policy Institute
Author, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America

Mehrsa Baradaran @MehrsaBaradaran
J. Alton Hosch Associate Professor of Law, University of Georgia
Author, The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap

Gregory Jost @lobojost 
Director of Organizing, Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association, Inc.

Kerry McLean
Vice President, Community Development, Women's Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDco)

Jamelle Bouie @jbouie
Chief Political Correspondent, Slate

Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Copies of The Color of Law and The Color of Money will be available for purchase. Follow the conversation online using #ColorOfLawandMoney and by following @NewAmericaFCSP