The Hidden Cost of Being African American: How Wealth Perpetuates Inequality by Thomas M. Shapiro

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

byThomas M. Shapiro

Paperback | January 6, 2005

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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, fundamentallevels 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 homeownershipdramatically 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 fromgeneration 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. Shapirochallenges 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.

About The Author

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 Disti...
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Details & Specs

Title:The Hidden Cost of Being African American: How Wealth Perpetuates InequalityFormat:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 5.98 × 9.02 × 0.91 inPublished:January 6, 2005Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195181387

ISBN - 13:9780195181388

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Table of Contents

Part I: Assets1. The Color of the Safety Net2. The Cost of Being Black and the Advantage of Being White3. Inheritance--"That Parent Thing"Part II: Making Racial Inequality4. Middle Class in Black and White: How Level is the Playing Field?5. The Homeownership CrossroadPart III: Leveraging Assets6. Where People "Choose" to Live7. "Getting a Decent Middle Class American Education": Pursuing Advantage in SchoolsConclusionAppendix I: TablesAppendix II: MethodologyNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"This insightful study adds to a growing body of research documenting that asset holding has important effects on well-being, independent of income. Shapiro explores complex relationships among race, home ownership, and educational opportunity. He assesses the cost of being black in thesecrucial interactions. He introduces the concept of transformative assets to describe inherited wealth that makes a difference in life chances. This book should be read by anyone concerned about race, wealth, and the future of America." --Michael Sherraden, Benjamin E. Youngdahl Professor of SocialDevelopment, Washington University in St. Louis