Being Black, Living in the Red: Race, Wealth, and Social Policy in America / Edition 1

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Overview

What is more important--race or class--in determining the socioeconomic success of the blacks and whites born since the civil rights triumphs of the 1960s? When compared to whites, African Americans complete less formal schooling, work fewer hours at a lower rate of pay and are more likely to give birth to a child out of wedlock and to rely on welfare. Are these differences attributable to race per se, or are they the result of differences in socioeconomic background between the two groups? 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. Dalton Conley shows how factoring parental wealth into a reconceptualization of class can lead to a different future for race policy in the United States. As it currently stands, affirmative action programs primarily address racial diversity in schooling and work--areas that Conley contends generate paradoxical results with respect to racial equity. Instead he suggests an affirmative action policy that fosters minority property accumulation, thereby encouraging long-term wealth equity, or one that--while continuing to address schooling and work--is based on social class as defined by family wealth levels rather than on race.
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What People Are Saying

William Julius Wilson
This carefully written and meticulous book not only provides a compelling explanation of the black-white wealth differential, it also represents the best contributionto the race-class debate in the past two decades.
— Author of The Bridge over the Racial Divide
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520216730
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 217
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author


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.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1 Wealth Matters 1
2 Forty Acres and a Mule: Historical and Contemporary Obstacles to Black Property Accumulation 25
3 From Financial to Social to Human Capital: Assets and Education 55
4 Up the Down Escalator: Wealth, Work, and Wages 83
5 It Takes a Village? Premarital Childbearing and Welfare Dependency 109
6 Getting into the Black: Conclusions and Policy Implications 133
Appendix 153
Notes 181
Index 203
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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2001

    One of the most thought-provoking books I've ever read

    This book is both meticulous and very clearly written. Every time I had, while reading Conley's analysis, a nagging question in the back of my head, he went on to address it in far more detail than had even occurred to me. Perhaps because of this thoroughness, _Being Black, Living in the Red_ fundamentally altered the way I think about certain social policies, and about race and wealth in general. It also interested me in sociology of inequality, a field about which I had known nothing. The book is incredibly informative about a matter of great public importance, but I appreciated that Conley seemed wary of overstating his case. I truly felt I was getting an honest, and extremely skillful, evaluation of the evidence. Under the circumstances, I'd be hard pressed to do anything but advise you to read this book at the first chance you get.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2001

    A must-read and important contribution to the race/class dialogue and social policy!

    If there is one book and one voice that has the potential to be influential in shaping social policies and innovation to the race/class discourse, it is Dalton Conley's 'Being Black, Living in the Red: Race, Wealth, and Social Policy in America.' An extension of Conley's dissertation and previous studies, this reading challenges many of the traditional ways the race/class dialogue has been constructed, measured and evaluated. What Conley does that is impressive is that he is able to deconstruct socioeconomic theories and introduce important elements that can help explain the successes and failures of our social programs and initiatives, i.e. affirmative action, welfare, etc. Dalton's thesis is clear from the start and he interweaves stastitical analyses of data research and hypothetical scenarios that elucidate and strengthen his perspective. Also, what makes this reading so germane to social policy is that there is a clear examination of the impact that previous federal programs have on the current economic gap between blacks and whites today. Additionally, Conley makes the book as accessible as possible to the reader who is unfamiliar with sociological and economic discourse. There is a lot of socioeconomic theorizing presented throughout the book, but it is not all wrapped up in excessive jargon to make the reading dull or condescending. There are clear portions of the book that are 'sociology-speak,' but it doesn't detract from the reading or make it less understandable. Because of the subject matter and the presentation of the material, Conley is able to provide a voice that clearly understands the complexities of the race/class intersection and its various facets, and he argues his case in a distinct and precise manner. This book has been written for any type of reader interested in social and public policy making and/or the social sciences. Through data research and analyses, Conley clearly has presented to the reader an important contribution to socioeconomic theorizing and policy-making. Simply put, it is an erudition to the race/class discourse, giving important and meaningful ways we need to construct and advance our public dialogue and policy.

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