Past racially-explicit policies by federal, state, and local governments—especially those concerning housing—imposed a level of segregation on the United States that was so powerful it still determines the racial landscape of today, according to Richard Rothstein, author of The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America.

Rothstein is also a distinguished fellow of the Economic Policy Institute and a senior fellow (emeritus) at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

In a wide-ranging conversation with Nathaalie Carey, Nareit senior vice president for industry affairs and social responsibility, Rothstein pointed to the government’s deliberate move after World War II to create white suburban communities across the country as a key factor in preventing the accumulation of wealth and advancement of the African American population.

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