A book review

I don’t think I have ever published a book review on this site before today. 

The book is “The Color Of Law” A forgotten history of how our government segregated America. by Richard Rothstein.

The book helped me understand how and why our neighborhoods are racially segregated, and they are segregated.

Rothstein give examples of how public housing helped segregate communities and how federal subsidies given to builders to create whites-only suburbs.

The houses in the suburbs that were built after WWll  were a hot new product and were sold as housing exclusively for white people.

It is clear from reading the book that segregation wasn’t an accident but that it was by design. Rothstein outlines how cities from coast to coast became segregated through State, Federal, and local policy and zoning laws.

He shows how housing was built near jobs and how African American workers were not allowed to own the housing and had to drive long distances to work in lower paying jobs because the best jobs were given to white people.

The FHA (Federal Housing Administration) promted the idea that if African Americans moved into a neighborhood property values would go down. I have heard similar retoric this year about affordable housing in the suburbs and how the suburbs need to be saved.

He makes an arguement in the book for reperations. After reading it I have to agree because the racial disparites we see today have deep roots.

History is all about point of view

Today is Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day. It is a reminder that our history is written from the point of view of the writers and to them Christopher Columbus was a hero. To the native peoples that were on this land before it was “discovered” he was more of an invader.

It is true that history can not be changed but it is subjective. The history that has been written by native peoples tells a different story.

Happy Columbus Day and Happy Indigenous Peoples Day

Ramsey house fall
Side door – Alexander Ramsey House

Moving away isn’t the only answer

st. paul and mississippi river
St. Paul, MN

Don’t get me wrong it is good for business but it seems like people would rather move if they don’t like something about their neighborhood than stay and try to change it.

Maybe your neighborhood and your neighbors need you.

It is all of us who make up a neighborhood and I know from first-hand experience that all of us can work together to make our neighborhoods better places to live.

We can’t move a dangerous or noisy road but we can have the speed limit reduced or the road redesigned.

People want to move away from areas where there is civil unrest. We live in a society that is unjust and we either need to change it or face the consequences.

Climate change may eventually force people to move. People are already planning so that they can move to places that will offer a more comfortable climate and safer conditions.

We will all need to change the way that we live and how we use water and what we eat or none of us will have a place to live. There are some problems that are too big to move away from like pandemics.

Work toward changing the world by voting on November 3rd or go down to your county election office and vote on Monday.

Don’t expect that the people who get elected will solve all or any of our problems. Having good leaders is just a start. We will all need to do the work.

You can vote early and wait in line

Ramsey County Election office

In case you haven’t heard this is an election year. Early voting in Minnesota started on 9/18/2020. My husband and I decided to drop off our absentee ballots in person. There was a line. We handed our ballots to an election worker who checked the envelope to make sure it was filled out correctly and signed.

By delivering the ballots we know they were received. I generally trust the mail but I don’t want to take any chances.

If you are using an absentee ballot read the instructions carefully. The ballot goes into three envelopes and they need to be in the right order. One of the envelopes needs to have a signature and an id number.

It is wonderful to see so many people interested in voting and who care enough to vote early.


Early in-person voting starts on Friday

In Minnesota, you can vote early and in-person starting on Friday, September 18, 2020.

Of course, you could vote in person on November 3, 2020, but the lines will probably be shorter on Friday.

If you want to vote early but do not know where or how visit the Minnesota secretary of state web site.

Some candidates running in the 2020 election have ads so that when you search Google for election information the first thing that comes up is an ad telling you to “secure your vote”

You do not need to secure your vote. You may need to register though if you are not already registered. You can also register on election day or when you go to your county election office for early in-person voting.

If you do not live in Minnesota you will need to register in your own state.

My plan is to use my absentee ballot and drop it off in person at my county election site. That way I get the best of both worlds as far as in-person and absentee.  Here is some information from Ramsey county on how to do that.

You can check to see if your vote was received without ever leaving your house. Track your vote online. 

Voting twice or trying to vote more than once is illegal in every state. Use the vote tracker to make sure your ballot was accepted.

I am sure you are sick of reading about voting but I never get sick of writing about it and am proud of the fact that I have never missed an opportunity to vote. I even vote in the local elections because I care about schools and firefighters and policing too.

Vote 2020 – sign on West 7th street in St. Paul