Required Reading for Real Estate People: The Color of Law (2017)

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America

by Richard Rothstein

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I hesitated before clicking Five Stars, this is not an easy book to read.

Not that it’s poorly written, it is written particularly well, it is the material that is difficult. Like coming up on a car wreck. You look because you’re human, but you don’t want to. Maybe looking gives you an idea of what happened and that helps keep us alive? The Color of Law might be like that, something that we don’t want to know, but awareness might help keep us going, as a society.

My real estate career spans four decades, from the 90s through today, beginning as an appraiser and ending, if this is my last role, running a big MLS. During that time I have witnessed the S&L Crisis, Y2K, the Dot Com bubble, the Credit Crunch, the Great Recession, Quantitative Easing, and now a global pandemic and another ground-war in Europe. Most of that time was in Alabama so I have also seen rebel flags, de-facto modern segregation, and fresh racism. Reading Color of Law brought those experiences into sharp focus and provided needed context for understanding the long tail of redlining in America.

Wealth is based mostly on property in this country. It is a simple fact that large segments of our population were systematically denied access to that vehicle until relatively recently. The impact of that reality on non-white prosperity and wealth creation is immense, hard to measure it is so large. I don’t know what can be done about it in 2022 except maybe to push harder for transparency and fairness and to actively invest in those communities still without housing security. America will have to fix this problem to survive another 250 years.

Color of Law is required reading for anyone in organized real estate, PropTech, or Fintech.

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