Who: Tom Shapiro, author of TOXIC INEQUALITY
When: Thursday, April 20 at 7:00 pm
Where: First Church JP
Tickets: free, open to the public
From a leading authority on race and public policy, a deeply researched account of how families rise and fall today
Since the Great Recession, most Americans' standard of living has stagnated or declined. Economic inequality is at historic highs. But inequality's impact differs by race; African Americans' net wealth is just a tenth that of white Americans, and over recent decades, white families have accumulated wealth at three times the rate of black families. In our increasingly diverse nation, sociologist Thomas M. Shapiro argues, wealth disparities must be understood in tandem with racial inequities-a dangerous combination he terms "toxic inequality."
In Toxic Inequality, Shapiro reveals how these forces combine to trap families in place. Following nearly two hundred families of different races and income levels over a period of twelve years, Shapiro's research vividly documents the recession's toll on parents and children, the ways families use assets to manage crises and create opportunities, and the real reasons some families build wealth while others struggle in poverty. The structure of our neighborhoods, workplaces, and tax code-much more than individual choices-push some forward and hold others back. A lack of assets, far more common in families of color, can often ruin parents' careful plans for themselves and their children.
Toxic inequality may seem inexorable, but it is not inevitable. America's growing wealth gap and its yawning racial divide have been forged by history and preserved by policy, and only bold, race-conscious reforms can move us toward a more just society.
"In this lucid and compelling book, Thomas M. Shapiro convincingly argues why we can't understand wealth and income inequality in America without also understanding racial inequality, and that any potential solution to the former must also remedy the nation's widening racial divide. He shows how wealth and race compound historic injustices through their combined effects on housing, schools and colleges, employment, and politics. Everyone concerned about the toxic effects of inequality must read this book."
—Robert B. Reich, author of Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few
"In this indispensable book, Thomas M. Shapiro connects the stories of individual American families to a powerful and readable analysis of data and policy, revealing the truth about escalating racial inequality in America: it is the result of institutional forces, not individual effort."
—Heather C. McGhee, President, Demos
Thomas M. Shapiro is the Pokross Professor of Law and Social Policy at the Heller School, Brandeis University, where he directs the Institute on Assets and Social Policy. The author of four books, including The Hidden Cost of Being African American and, with Melvin Oliver, Black Wealth/White Wealth, he is a neighbor of ours, residing here in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.