In 1991, Anita Hill’s courageous testimony during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings sparked a national conversation on sexual harassment and women’s equality in politics and the workplace. Today, she turns her attention to another potent and enduring symbol of economic success and equality — the home. Hill details how the current housing crisis, resulting in the devastation of so many families, so many communities, and even whole cities, imperils every American’s ability to achieve the American Dream.
Hill takes us on a journey that begins with her own family story and ends with the subprime mortgage meltdown. Along the way, she invites us into homes across America, rural and urban, and introduces us to some extraordinary African American women. As slavery ended, Mollie Elliott, Hill’s ancestor, found herself with an infant son and no husband. Yet, she bravely set course to define for generations to come what it meant to be a free person of color. On the eve of the civil rights and women’s rights movements, Lorraine Hansberry’s childhood experience of her family’s fight against racial restrictions in a Chicago neighborhood ended tragically for the Hansberry family. Yet, that episode shaped Lorraine’s hopeful account of early suburban integration in her iconic American drama A Raisin in the Sun. Two decades later, Marla, a divorced mother, endeavors to keep her children safe from a growing gang presence in 1980s Los Angeles. Her story sheds light on the fears and anxiety countless parents faced during an era of growing neighborhood isolation, and that continue today. In the midst of the 2008 recession, hairdresser Anjanette Booker’s dogged determination to keep her Baltimore home and her salon reflects a commitment to her own independence and to her community’s economic and social viability. Finally, Hill shares her own journey to a place and a state of being at home that brought her from her roots in rural Oklahoma to suburban Boston, Massachusetts, and connects her own search for home with that of women and men set adrift during the foreclosure crisis.
The ability to secure a place that provides access to every opportunity our country has to offer is central to the American Dream. To achieve that ideal, Hill argues, we and our leaders must engage in a new conversation about what it takes to be at home in America. Pointing out that the inclusive democracy our Constitution promises is bigger than the current debate about legal rights, she presents concrete proposals that encourage us to reimagine equality. Hill offers a twenty-first-century vision of America — not a vision of migration, but one of roots; not one simply of tolerance, but one of belonging; not just of rights, but also of community — a community of equals.
"Serious readers of all kinds, especially those interested in current affairs and social policy, will appreciate a book that is both highly readable and deeply analytical."
— Library Journal
"With extraordinary grace and clarity, Anita Hill weaves the story of her family with that of other American families struggling to find and define homes for themselves. What emerges is a powerful story of our nation’s ongoing quest for equality of opportunity, viewed through the eyes of the people who have been deeply engaged in that quest. Beautifully written, elegantly seen, compellingly argued.”
— Robert B. Reich, author of Aftershock
“Thoughtful and disturbing examination of slippery ideas, rendered in powerful prose."
— Kirkus Reviews
"Her book, lucid about law, lively with smatterings of history and reminders of cultural markers, may open that conversation."
— Publisher's Weekly
"Combining the sincerity of memoir and the rigor of sociology, Anita Hill looks at home as a physical space, but also as a microcosm of American society. The women profiled in this engaging and moving book illustrate the challenges of living in America as a raced and gendered person while simultaneously demonstrating the beauty of resistance and the triumphs of family, community, and faith. Hill connects the dots between the home-making efforts of African Americans just after Reconstruction and the heartbreaking (and enraging) consequences of the subprime mortgage scandal. After reading this book, you will never see a house as just four walls and a roof. It is a dream and we, as Americans, are the dreamers."
— Tayari Jones, author of Silver Sparrow
"Anita Hill’s bravery, intellect and commitment to justice galvanized a generation of women. If that weren’t enough, it turns out she’s also a wonderful story-teller. Re-Imagining Equality will change your ideas about home, race and gender — and it’s also great fun to read."
— Peggy Orenstein, author, Cinderella Ate My Daughter
"In a book that is rigorous and heartfelt, sharply analytical and deeply moving, Anita Hill examines the idea of what 'home' means to Americans. Bringing to bear her formidable skills as a scholar of American law, history, and culture, Hill has produced a personal narrative that reaches across color and class to explore how our family homes and our national home are inextricably linked to how we understand achievement, opportunity, and equality."
— Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University
"In her new book, Reimagining Equality: Stories of Race, Gender, and Finding Home, Professor Anita Hill has written a sobering and compelling book about the plight of woman historically and now. This book is a must read for anyone who is committed to gender equality, and will be invaluable to those who are trying to understand many of the burdens that women, black and white face, in their everyday lives. An easy read, this book has both tragic and triumphant stories and covers the life of women through slavery, and those who now live in the Obama era. They remind us that we still have to come to grips with issues of race and gender, and that we need to re-imagine the question of equality for all. I recommend it with great enthusiasm and excitement about its value to a large audience of readers."
— Professor Charles J. Ogletree Jr., author of The Presumption of Guilt: The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Race, Class, and Crime in America