One of my recent reviews for Shelf Awareness, of Prof. Anita Hill’s thought-provoking and highly readable book about race, gender, and the housing crisis. Enjoy!
The housing bubble’s recent burst and the foreclosures that ensued have hit millions of Americans where they live – literally. In her first book since Speaking Truth to Power, Brandeis professor Anita Hill explores how race and gender issues influenced the housing crisis, and how the crisis shaped and shapes our collective understanding of “home.”
Hill explore the notion of “home” in two ways: home as a physical place to live, and home as a symbol of independence, responsibility, and security. Both have played a vital role in Americans’ understanding of “home.” While civil rights legislation can level the playing field and protect the rights of those seeking the first, law alone is insufficient to guarantee access to the second. To make America “home” for every individual, Hill writes, we must change the way we as a society define and practice equality, which must include an understanding of the uniquely American ways we define and practice “home.”
Hill shows how race and gender discrimination have affected American’s ideas of and efforts to secure a “home” from the start. Abigail Adams begged her husband to “remember the ladies,” to no avail; Booker T. Washington advocated ownership of a “tasty little cottage” as the ticket to individual success and civil inclusion for a generation of freed slaves. Americans were urged to “own your own home” in the 1920s, the 1980s, and the 2000s; when many minorities and women were disproportionately steered into subprime loans and adjustable-rate mortgages, however, the resulting economic catastrophe expanded beyond race and gender lines to shake the foundations of “home” as both a place and an aspiration for millions of Americans.