Being Black, Living in the Red demonstrates that many differences between blacks and whites stem not from race but from economic inequalities that have accumulated over the course of American history. Property ownership—as measured by net worth—reflects this legacy of economic oppression. The racial discrepancy in wealth holdings leads to advantages for whites in the form of better schools, more desirable residences, higher wages, and more opportunities to save, invest, and thereby further their economic advantages. A new afterword by the author summarizes Conley’s recent research on racial differences in wealth mobility and security and discusses potential policy solutions to the racial asset gap and America’s low savings rate more generally.
Dalton Conley is University Professor, Chair of Sociology, and Acting Dean of Social Sciences at New York University. He is also Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and Adjunct Professor of Community Medicine at Mt.Sinai School of Medicine.
"Being Black, Living in the Red is an important book. In Conley's persuasive analysis the locus of current racial inequality resides in class and property relations, not in the labor market. This carefully written and meticulous book not only provides a compelling explanation of the black-white wealth differential, it also represents the best contribution to the race-class debate in the past two decades."—William Julius Wilson, author of When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor
"In Being Black, Living in the Red, Dalton Conley has taken the discussion of race and inequality into important new territory. Even as income inequality is shrinking, Conley shows, the wealth gap endures. That gap, he argues lucidly, explains much of the persisting 'two societies' phenomenon—it contributes significantly to inequalities in education, work, even family structure. Those concerned about equity in America will find this book indispensable reading."—David Kirp, author of Our Town: Race, Housing, and the Soul of America
"With methodological sophistication Dalton Conley's well written book makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the precarious social and economic predicament that African Americans continue to experience."—Martin Sanchez-Jankowski, author of City Bound: Urban Life and Political Attitudes Among Chicano Youth
"Picking up where Oliver and Shapiro (Black Wealth, White Wealth) left off, Conley details how and why facets of net worth cascade into long-term inequalities. All sides will be impressed with Conley's thorough scholarship and richly detailed analysis."—Troy Duster, co-editor of Cultural Perspectives on Biological Knowledge
"Being Black, Living in the Red is the most convincing analysis yet of the importance of wealth for the life chances of African Americans. Thanks to Conley's stunning data and adroit theoretical discussions, social scientists and policymakers can no longer ignore wealth as they attempt to deal with the thorny issue of racial inequality. A must read!"—Melvin L. Oliver, author of Black Wealth, White Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality