Black America and the Fight for a Place to Call Home

By Laura Gottesdiener
Foreword by Clarence Lusane
Release date: Aug 13, 2013
Paperback | $14.95 | 208 pages
ISBN: 978-1-884519-21-5
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Available now from Zuccotti Park Press
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Compelling and lucidly told stories .... A riveting book

NAOMI KLEIN, author of The Shock Doctrine

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Instead of bottles and bricks thrown at protesters and marchers,

the weapons of choice have been usurious mortgage contracts and signing pens. The language of segregation and interposition has been replaced with false narratives of getting a piece of the American pie and property ownership as freedom. The evil of ‘states’ rights’ has given way to the perniciousness of bankers’ rights. For many families in the black community, home mortgages became new shackles, ending dreams and futures.
—from the foreword by CLARENCE LUSANE

With A Dream Foreclosed, Laura Gottesdiener, a Brooklyn-based investigative journalist, offers a thoroughly researched picture of the housing crisis within the context of the broader financial collapse, showing that the true cost is not in real estate value but in human tragedy—especially the mass displacement of American families and dreams.

Gottesdiener’s “page-turning testimony” reminds us that not a single Wall Street banker has been arrested for the countless predatory loans, acts of fraud and foreclosure abuse that have contributed to the more than ten million people being evicted from their foreclosed homes since 2007—with millions more foreclosures in progress. That ten million people have been thrown out of their homes (the equivalent of the entire population of Michigan) with almost no coverage of their stories or perspectives is itself a testament to corporate influence over public education, mass media and national debate.

Through real-life stories of four American neighborhoods fighting against foreclosure, A Dream Foreclosed gives voice to the silenced population most affected by the global economic crisis. What makes the book so compelling is that Gottesdiener profiles four heroic families who not only challenge the big banks when threatened with foreclosure and eviction—they organize their neighbors and win. Her main subjects, Bertha Garrett in Detroit, Martha Biggs in Chicago, Griggs Wimbley in North Carolina, and Michael Hutchins in Tennessee, all embody the spectacular possibilities that emerge when everyday people challenge corporate power.

Praise for a Dream Foreclosed

“I’m spreading the word about Laura Gottesdiener’s fine book wherever I go and wherever I am. [It’s] a wonderful book because at last she’s made the horror of the banking machinations behind home foreclosures more transparent than anything else I’ve read.”
Alice Walker, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Color Purple
“Compelling and lucidly told stories …. A riveting book.”
NAOMI KLEIN, author of The Shock Doctrine
“It’s a really incredible book”
Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now!
“I’m spreading the word about Laura Gottesdiener’s fine book wherever I go and wherever I am. [It’s] a wonderful book because at last she’s made the horror of the banking machinations behind home foreclosures more transparent than anything else I’ve read.”
—Alice Walker, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Color Purple

“From the time of their capture in Africa, through Emancipation and the Great Migration, to the national economic and housing crisis of today, people of African descent in the United States have been defined by their search for home. Using the dreams and aspirations of four families as her point of departure, Laura Gottesdiener narrates a beautifully crafted story about predatory lending, foreclosure abuse, the racial politics of home ownership, and the brave struggles launched by African American communities to keep their dignities and their homes. She demonstrates that amidst the greatest housing crisis the nation has seen, the current struggle among African Americans for economic equality is forcing upon our nation a redefinition of American freedom, one that challenges us to reconsider the fundamental flaw in our national security: the market-driven character of housing. With great humanity and solidarity for those on the front lines of this epic battle, Gottesdiener offers a compelling political analysis, and a way forward in a time of national crisis. A Dream Foreclosed is a powerful, impressive and page-turning testimony that ordinary people can fight back and win.”
—JOHANNA FERNANDEZ, professor in the Department of History at Baruch College

“Laura Gottesdiener has the acute eye and pen of a young progressive star with extraordinary talent. Her pages should grip you with motivational indignation.”

“The legislation to rescue the perpetrators of the current financial crisis included provisions for limited compensation to their victims. No need to tarry on which part of the bargain has been fulfilled. The bare statistics on foreclosures are shattering enough. But the enormity of the crime strikes home vividly in the heart-rending accounts of those who are brutally thrown out of their modest homes—for African Americans particularly, almost all they have—then survive in the streets, struggle on, and sometimes even regain something of what was stolen from them thanks to the courageous and inspiring work of the home liberation activists, now reinforced by the Occupy movement. All recounted with historical depth and analytic insight in this most valuable study.”

“A brilliant and needed narrative by an insightful and inspiring author.”
—TIM WISE, author of Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority

“Americans need the stories in this book: inspiring resistance to the serialized corporate crimes that crush not only ‘Dreams’ but the capacity to thrive beyond subsistence.”
—LINN WASHINGTON, author of Black Judges on Justice, Perspectives from the Bench

“A Dream Foreclosed finds beauty amidst immense pain and suffering—the beauty of people continuing to fight back against rapacious banks, the politicians they buy and the lawyers they hire. It is a work both beautiful and terrible that deserves to be read by many.”
—MUMIA ABU-JAMAL, Counterpunch

“A remarkable book that hits hard against the big Wall Street banks.”
—RUSSELL MOKHIBER, Huffington Post

“Gottesdiener’s new book, A Dream Foreclosed, is a people’s history of the financial crisis that jolted this country and has never ended. It has been hailed by Naomi Klein as “riveting” and Noam Chomsky as a “most valuable study… with historical depth and analytical insight.”

One of the top 12 “Great Reads of Summer 2013”
“Gottesdiener exposes the human reality of the economic downturn and mortgage crisis. In recounting the stories of four black families who, when faced with foreclosure and eviction, fought back against the banks, she illuminates the ongoing search for ‘home’.”

-Ms. Magazine (page 59, current issue – Summer 2013)

In her new book, A Dream Foreclosured: Black America and the Fight for a Place to Call Home (Zuccotti Park Press) author Laura Gottesdiener details how poor, African American communities were specifically targeted and exploited by the banks with inferior or too-good-to-be-true loans over the course of several decades. Gottesdiener reports the touching, personal stories of these tragedies and, importantly, how four of the families fought back. The book is a gripping account of the rampant predatory corporate practices that took place all across the country and which have caused our economy so much harm— and how abused communities can begin the rebuilding process.
-Huffington Post – Ralph Nader

“A Dream Foreclosed (Zuccotti Park Press, August 2013) tells in compelling language how more than 10 million Americans have been put out of their homes since the housing crisis began in 2007, with the Black community bearing a disproportionate share of the evictions. Gottesdiener’s role in writing this book is clearly not to find the crumbs America’s banks left in poor Black neighborhoods — rather it examines the bakery banks stole. Gottesdiener’s mission was telling of the unfair lending practices that have changed Black neighborhoods forever and to give some hope in the stories of four families who wouldn’t allow themselves to become another foreclosure statistic. It is a mission Gottesdiener has pulled off masterfully.
-NewsOne For Black America

A new book by Laura Gottesdiener, A Dream Foreclosed: Black America and the Fight for a Place to call Home, offers deeper context in the socio-economic effects of the housing crash.She shows how foreclosures have devastated America’s black community while banks profit. Incredulously, nearly every African American has seen their income decrease – all under the watch of our first black president. She offers first person reports on the trauma and tragedies of families who bought homes with deceptive loans offered by hustlers and conmen who knew they would not be able to afford their payments but sold the properties anyway. These are the people who made large fees from subprime loans even when borrowers qualified for lower interest loans. Her reporting from the frontlines of this battle humanises the issues and highlights the injustices that most of the business media glosses over. Her insights conflicts with the president’s, most of the media and the banks. “We’ve already tried policies that benefit Wall Street and massive corporations, and all we’ve ended up with is more financial consolidation, speculation and criminal activity,” she concludes.
-Al Jazeera – Danny Schechter

Laura Gottesdiener’s new book, ‘A Dream Foreclosed: Black America and the Fight for a Place to call Home,’ focuses on how the foreclosure problem has adversely affected the black community disproportionately. Before the 2008 housing market crash, banks loaned thousands of sub-prime loans to minorities fully aware they would never be able to pay back the loans. She totally disagrees with the President’s policies.“We’ve already tried policies that benefit Wall Street and massive corporations, and all we’ve ended up with is more financial consolidation, speculation and criminal activity,” she concludes.
-Las Vegas Guardian Express

Gottesdiener’s is a wrenchingly effective and brilliantly informed tone poem — one only awaiting orchestration — about the consequences of the housing crisis on the poor, the psychic harm done to people without a home and the power that comes from fighting back. Gottesdiener demonstrates the deceitfulness of the mortgage industry, its predatory lending practices and racial steering not only of property but of mortgage rates at a time when all levels of government are moving away from supporting — if not sabotaging — public housing. Gottesdiener, whose writing is informed by her commitments as an Occupy activist (the book is one of a handful of small works by the start-up Occupy-inspired Zuccotti Park Press) emphasizes “land reclamation” and direct action as the outcome of the work of those she profiles so well.
-Indypendent – Michael Hirsch

laura-6LAURA GOTTESDIENER is a journalist, author, and social justice activist living in Brooklyn.

She has written for Rolling Stone, Ms. magazine, The Arizona Republic, The New Haven Advocate, The Huffington Post and other publications.

She won the John Hersey Prize at Yale University and was a national finalist for the Norman Mailer Nonfiction Award for her investigative journalism.

She is a worked with the Occupy movement and lived in Zuccotti Park for several weeks before the police raids of Mid-November 2011.


Democracy Now! August 6, 2013


August 15, 2013; 6:00-9:00 p.m.
Book launch party with live music

Co-sponsored by Alternet, Adelante Alliance, Essential Information and Zuccotti Park Press
PowerHouse Arena & Bookstore
37 Main Street Brooklyn, NY 11201

August 20, 2013; 6:30-8:00 p.m.
Cosponsored with Public Citizen and Essential Information
Busboys and Poets
5th & K, Cullen Room
Washington DC

September 12, 2013; 7:00-9:00pm
Bluestockings Bookstore
172 Allen St, New York, NY 10002


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Democracy Now! August 6, 2013
The War Room Current TV, August 12, 2013
Uprising Radio with Sonali Kolhatkar –  Pacifica Radio – August 12, 2013
Democracy at Work with Rick Wolff – Pacifica Radio – August 17, 2013
The Joy Cardin Show, Wisconsin Public Radio – August 19, 2013