Hate Thy Neighbor

Move-In Violence and the Persistence of Racial Segregation in American Housing

259 pages

5 figures, 12 tables

June, 2013

ISBN: 9780814791448



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Jeannine Bell is Professor of Law at IU Maurer School of Law-Bloomington. She is the author of Policing Hatred: Law Enforcement, Civil Rights, and Hate Crime; Police and Policing Law; and Gaining Access to Research Sites: A Practical and Theoretical Guide for Qualitative Researchers (with Martha Feldman and Michele Berger). 

All books by Jeannine Bell

Despite increasing racial tolerance and national diversity, neighborhood segregation remains a very real problem in cities across America. Scholars, government officials, and the general public have long attempted to understand why segregation persists despite efforts to combat it, traditionally focusing on the issue of “white flight,” or the idea that white residents will move to other areas if their neighborhood becomes integrated. In Hate Thy Neighbor, Jeannine Bell expands upon these understandings by investigating a little-examined but surprisingly prevalent problem of “move-in violence:” the anti-integration violence directed by white residents at minorities who move into their neighborhoods. Apprehensive about their new neighbors and worried about declining property values, these residents resort to extra-legal violence and intimidation tactics, often using vandalism and verbal harassment to combat what they view as a violation of their territory.
Hate Thy Neighbor is the first work to seriously examine the role violence plays in maintaining housing segregation, illustrating how intimidation and fear are employed to force minorities back into separate neighborhoods and prevent meaningful integration. Drawing on evidence that includes in-depth interviews with ordinary citizens and analysis of Fair Housing Act cases, Bell provides a moving examination of how neighborhood racial violence is enabled today and how it harms not only the victims, but entire communities.
By finally shedding light on this disturbing phenomenon, Hate Thy Neighbor not only enhances our understanding of how prevalent segregation and this type of hate-crime remain, but also offers insightful analysis of a complex mix of remedies that can work to address this difficult problem.


  • "Hate They Neighbor shows in devastating detail the rise and persistence of tactics for preventing residential racial integration, starting in the 20th century and continuing into the present. Although many minorities can find good housing in areas they can afford, just enough of their neighbors still greet them with cross-burnings, firebombs, and violence to send an ongoing warning: integrate at your own risk."

    —Amanda I. Seligman, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

  • "An important, informative, disturbing, surprisingly encouraging book. Although I’ve taught, researched, and written about housing discrimination and segregation for decades, this book exposed me to much that I hadn’t known. . . . The facts Bell relates are shocking in their cruelty and brutality. . . . A 'must read' for anyone concerned about residential racial discrimination and segregation."

    —Florence Wagman Roisman, William F. Harvey Professor of Law, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

  • "Puts an unsparing spotlight on one of the least discussed yet most intractable barriers to full civil rights for all Americans. . . . Stunning and tragic. . . . Hate Thy Neighbor is both empirical and poignant. Her proposals for how to address this enduring scandal will, without any doubt, launch new reflection, new movements, new hope."

    —Patricia J. Williams, Columbia Law School

  • "An impassioned advocate, the author puts a human face on statistics, drawing our attention to the financial and psychological damage sustained by individual victims of move-in violence...The cumulative effect is powerful and disturbing—a nuanced view of race relations in the age of Obama and a reminder to civil rights advocates of unfinished business."

    Publishers Weekly

  • "A fascinating and deeply upsetting look at the issue of white Americans perpetrating violence in order to prevent housing integration. Recommended for scholarly readers interested in the intersection of law, public policy, and race."

    —Rachel Bridgewater, Library Journal

  • "Another new book to share with the younger generation is Jeannine Bell's Hate Thy Neighbor, a sobering reminder of how the legacy of the past lives on...Bell's book offers an important reality check for those who believe that racism is no longer a problem."


  • "Many Americans think they live in a 'post-racial' country.  In a thoroughly documented text, Bell disproves this idea."

    —S.D. Borchert, Choice

  • "In the book Hate Thy Neighbor, Jeannine Bell turns our attention to the often overlooked factor of anti-integrationist violence as a threat to minority decisions to move into white neighborhoods.  In an era when most whites view racial struggles to be a thing of the past, Bell’s data is not only a stark reminder of how far we have to go, but also a demonstration of our legal system’s failure to provide sufficient remedy for such acts.”

    American Journal of Sociology