In this article, Richard Rothstein is critical of high school textbooks–and of our media in general–for failing to identify the true causes of de facto segregation.

Either they barely mention the role of government in segregating neighborhoods by race or they imply that it happened naturally (de facto), without any government intervention.

He writes:

One of the worst examples of our historical blindness is the widespread belief that our continued residential racial segregation, North and South, is “ de facto ,” not the result of explicit government policy but instead the consequence of private prejudice, economic inequality, and personal choice to self-segregate. But in truth, our major metropolitan areas were segregated by government action. The federal government purposefully placed public housing in high-poverty, racially isolated neighborhoods (pdf) to concentrate the black population, and with explicit racial intent, created a whites-only mortgage guarantee program to shift the white population from urban neighborhoods to exclusively white suburbs (pdf). The Internal Revenue Service granted tax-exemptions for charitable activity to organizations established for the purpose of enforcing neighborhood racial homogeneity. State-licensed realtors in virtually every state, and with the open support of state regulators, supported this federal policy by refusing to permit African Americans to buy or rent homes in predominantly white neighborhoods. Federal and state regulators sanctioned the refusal of the banking, thrift, and insurance industries to make loans to homeowners in other-race communities. Prosecutors and police sanctioned, often encouraged, thousands of acts of violence against African Americans who attempted to move to neighborhoods that had not been designated for their race.

Rothstein compares our present moral blindness to the Truth and Reconciliation commission of South Africa that followed the end of apartheid.

Public policy must be built on a firm foundation of facing the past honestly, not by evasion or lies or indifference.