A searing portrait “of the ways in which black men and women have struggled to surmount injustice to own homes”—from the heroic lawyer who spoke out against Clarence Thomas (The New York Times Book Review)
In this “highly readable and deeply analytical” work, attorney Anita Hill examines the relationship between home ownership and the American Dream through the lens of race and gender (Library Journal). Through the stories of remarkable African American women—including her own great-great-grandmother, playwright Lorraine Hansberry, and Baltimore beauty-shop owner and housing-crisis survivor Anjanette Booker—she demonstrates that the inclusive democracy our Constitution promises must be conceived with home in mind.
From slavery to the Great Migration to the subprime mortgage meltdown, Reimagining Equality takes us on a journey that sparks a new conversation about what it means to be at home in America and presents concrete proposals that encourage us to reimagine equality.
Hill (Speaking Truth to Power) addresses the prime mortgage debacle, specifically how "wning a home, and thus acquiring this piece of the American Dream has become increasingly difficult for people of color and single women," and presents an indictment of subprime and predatory lending. Hill looks at the influence of the OYOH (Own Your Own Home) campaigns of the early 1930s and at the role of government and private developers in impeding black home ownership, even as "home became a powerful symbol of race and gender advancement, the great signifier of our belonging and independence." The experiences of two women (one in Los Angeles, the other in Baltimore) link race to both "the gender dynamics of subprime lending practices that enabled the spread of predatory loans" and to law as a "string of lawsuits filed against banks" by civic entities (e.g., Illinois, Baltimore). The unanswered "pivotal question for all of us" remains: "What can our leaders do to ensure that the home remains an integral and achievable part of the American Dream?" Hill calls for a "Home Summit," a public conversation about the housing crisis, its impact on communities, and its effect on achieving equality. Her book, lucid about law, lively with smatterings of history and reminders of cultural markers, may open that conversation.