The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America
By Richard Rothstein
In honor of the US inauguration week, I’ve chosen The Color of Law as our recommended book. Because while it is a knee jerk response for many United Statesians to claim “we are better than the last four years,” I find it most patriotic to unflinchingly approach and challenge the anti-Black legacy of legislation that has shaped the country we live in today.
As Rothstein puts it, “racially explicit government policies to segregate our metropolitan areas are not vestiges, were neither subtle nor intangible, and were sufficiently controlling to construct the de jure segregation that is now with us in neighborhoods and hence in schools. The core argument of this book is that African Americans were unconstitutionally denied the means and the right to integration in middle-class neighborhoods, and because this denial was state-sponsored, the nation is obligated to remedy it.”
This book delivers a powerful message: segregation was not created by accident or by prejudiced individuals. It will not be reversed by accident or “in some mysterious way, by changes in people’s hearts.” We need equally aggressive policies to the ones adopted by federal, state and local governments in the first place.
Rothstein concludes the book with a collection of possible remedies and the reminder that “we will have to contemplate what we have collectively done and, on behalf of the government, accept responsibility.” A powerful and important read!
Quote: “Half a century ago, the truth of de jure segregation was well known, but since then we have suppressed our historical memory and soothed ourselves into believing that it all happened by accident or by misguided private prejudice. "
Claire Taylor: Stephanie, what is your background and what are you studying right now?
Stephanie Marquez: I am currently attending DePaul University, working to receive my Bachelors in Media
Communication and Minor in Graphic Design. While my background is specialized in
CT: What excites you about marketing and media?
SM: Marketing helps ensure that there is an intersection between demand and innovation. It leads
to identifying opportunities that people or organizations want resolved and will work towards an
CT: And what interests you about working with The Kaleidoscapes?
SM: The Kaleidoscapes Eco-Theatre Company is a welcoming nontraditional space that stands by
solutions to the climate crisis and innovative ways to experientially teach others about open
dialogue between our natural world and its inhabitants. The Kaleidoscapes staff and Co-Founders
encourage me to voice my concerns on how to serve and protect our earth. To create a sense of
environmental responsibility to the land that is our shared home.
CT: Why is environmental justice important to you?
SM: Environmental justice is important to me, due to the fact that I advocate the right to a safe
environment as an essential part of fundamental human needs. No group of people should bear a
disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from governmental
and commercial operations or policies.
CT: What have you learned so far, and what are you excited to learn more about?
SM: What I have learned so far is, the public’s contributions can influence positive change. The
community’s concerns and involvement will considerably affect the grand picture. I am
interested in creating innovative solutions.
CT: What else should people know about you?
SM: The Kaleidoscapes has gifted me with a creative space that allows me to speak
about matters that I deem important and seek to inspire others to follow.
Today, I’m enthusiastically recommending two, fantastic new releases. They were actually published 10 days apart from one another during November of this year.
Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Animals
By Alexis Pauline Gumbs
The first, Undrowned, was released after the author, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, followed her own curiosity on a deep dive about marine mammals. As she says, “I just wanted to know which whale was which, but I found myself confronted with the colonial, racist, sexist, heteropatriachalizing capitalist constructs that are trying to kill me--the net I am already caught in, so to speak.” She began with daily social media posts, sharing her learnings and reflections, and then this book was dreamed into being. Her writing is bold, poetic, full of social commentary, and creatively nonfiction. It was also released as a part of the Emergent Strategy Series (one of our reads from adrienne maree brown earlier this year). I was completely immersed in this book, and I found the wisdom in its pages to be subversive, wonderfully queer, and full of love for our underwater relatives. In describing her writing process, Gumbs says, “As I learned more about marine mammals, I learned to look between the loopholes of language, using the poetic practices I have had to use to find and love myself in a world that misnames me daily.” I cannot recommend this read highly enough. Do yourself a favor and get a copy!
Lighting the Way: An Anthology of Short Plays About the Climate Crisis
Edited by Chantal Bilodeau and Thomas Peterson
The second book for today, found here (or at Barnes & Noble or Amazon) is a collection of 49 short plays by writers all over the world for the 2019 Climate Change Theatre Action, a global distributed theatre festival that coincided with the 25th United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP 25) held in Madrid, Spain under the presidency of the Chilean government. The writing prompt was to “give center stage to the unsung climate warriors and climate heroes who are lighting the way toward a just and sustainable future.” Whether you are a teacher, theatre artist, or eco-theatre lover like me who has lots of respect for The Arctic Cycle, these plays are a fantastic source of inspiration, imagination and courageous storytelling about climate. One thing I miss as the pandemic wears on is the sensation of sitting in a blackout right before a play starts--with people on either side of me, waiting in anticipation for what might unfold. Reading this book was the first time I had felt an echo of that feeling in many months. I especially loved hearing about the design concepts or “ecoscenography” in an introductory essay by Triga Creative. Thank you to all of the contributing playwrights, the 3,046 artists, organizers and activists who created the performances in the CCTA 2019, and especially to Chantal Bilodeau and Thomas Peterson for helping us witness the impact of this event after the fact. I bought this one as a gift to myself for the holidays, and reading it by the fire is an activity I would 5/5 recommend.
To learn more about our Book Club, please join The Kaleidoscapes Commons or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dive into our journal pages to expand your knowledge and follow our journey into the backcountry.