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Valuing Black Lives and Black Cities
After years of presenting on racial economic inequality and the racial wealth divide, I have learned that it is essential to attack head-on the myths and false narratives that justify racial economic inequality before one can begin to approach solutions to this issue. One must face the underlying myth that the United States is the land of economic mobility and that there is a robust middle class that all have equal access to, if they are willing to put in the individual effort. Andre M. Perry’s Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities reveals the web of historical and contemporary socioeconomic barriers that maintain the racial wealth divide and does this through personal narrative, history, and an exploration of a wide array of social issues.
Perry is known for his professional and academic credentials, including being a fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings and a scholar-in-residence at American University. Yet Perry clarifies that his personal life story is one of his most important credentials in analyzing Black asset poverty’s causes and barriers.
Perry’s introduction provides the most powerful summation of the arguments of the book. Through his story of being raised by a working-class matriarch in a declining middle-class Black city, Perry paints a portrait from which we can see the socioeconomic challenges individuals and households face and how these challenges are embedded in a racially discriminatory political economy. While acknowledging the ups and downs in his family’s life, Perry convincingly argues that ...