The Color of Law

The Color of Law

A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America

Richard Rothstein

The consequences of being exposed to neighborhood poverty are greater than the consequences of being poor itself. Children who grow up in poor neighborhoods have few adult role models who have been educationally and occupationally successful. Their ability to do well in school is compromised from stress that can result from exposure to violence. They have few, if any, summer job opportunities. Libraries and bookstores are less accessible. There are fewer primary care physicians. Fresh food is harder to get. Airborne pollutants are more present, leading to greater school absence from respiratory illness. The concentration of many disadvantaged children in the same classroom deprives each child of the special attention needed to be successful. All these challenges are added to those from which poor children suffer in any neighborhood—instability and stress resulting from parental unemployment, fewer literacy experiences when parents are poorly educated, more overcrowded living arrangements that offer few quiet corners to study, and less adequate health care, all of which contribute to worse average school performance and, as a result, less occupational success as adults.

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