The Hidden Cost of Being African American: How Wealth Perpetuates Inequality

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Oxford University Press, Jan 1, 2005 - Social Science - 238 pages
7 Reviews
Over the past three decades, racial prejudice in America has declined significantly and many African American families have seen a steady rise in employment and annual income. But alongside these encouraging signs, Thomas Shapiro argues in The Hidden Cost of Being African American, fundamental levels of racial inequality persist, particularly in the area of asset accumulation--inheritance, savings accounts, stocks, bonds, home equity, and other investments. Shapiro reveals how the lack of these family assets along with continuing racial discrimination in crucial areas like homeownership dramatically impact the everyday lives of many black families, reversing gains earned in schools and on jobs, and perpetuating the cycle of poverty in which far too many find themselves trapped.
Shapiro uses a combination of in-depth interviews with almost 200 families from Los Angeles, Boston, and St. Louis, and national survey data with 10,000 families to show how racial inequality is transmitted across generations. We see how those families with private wealth are able to move up from generation to generation, relocating to safer communities with better schools and passing along the accompanying advantages to their children. At the same time those without significant wealth remain trapped in communities that don't allow them to move up, no matter how hard they work. Shapiro challenges white middle class families to consider how the privileges that wealth brings not only improve their own chances but also hold back people who don't have them. This "wealthfare" is a legacy of inequality that, if unchanged, will project social injustice far into the future.
Showing that over half of black families fall below the asset poverty line at the beginning of the new century, The Hidden Cost of Being African American will challenge all Americans to reconsider what must be done to end racial inequality.
  

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Review: The Hidden Cost of Being African American: How Wealth Perpetuates Inequality

User Review  - Marvin King - Goodreads

While I'm very sympathetic to the arguments made in the book, as a read, it misses the mark. The family interviews, while full of interesting anecdotes are not generalizable (in the social science ... Read full review

Review: The Hidden Cost of Being African American: How Wealth Perpetuates Inequality

User Review  - William - Goodreads

I was fortunate enough to study some at the school where Mr. Shapiro taught and while I do not agree with him on the solution to the wealth gap the social commentary along the way was well worth the read. Read full review

Contents

Section 1
1
Section 2
21
Section 3
64
Section 4
87
Section 5
90
Section 6
105
Section 7
129
Section 8
183
Section 9
205
Section 10
208
Section 11
211
Section 12
223

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About the author (2005)


Thomas M. Shapiro is Pokross Chair of Law and Social Policy, Heller School of Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University. Black Wealth/White Wealth, which he wrote in collaboration with Melvin Oliver, received widespread acclaim and won several awards, including C. Wright Mills award, the American Sociological Association Distinguished Scholarly Award, and The Myers Center Award for Human Rights.

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