BooksHome OwnershipSupplements

Recent & Recommended Books on Black Homeownership

Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership

By Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

By the late 1960s and early 1970s, reeling from a wave of urban uprisings, politicians finally worked to end the practice of redlining. Reasoning that the turbulence could be calmed by turning Black city-dwellers into homeowners, they passed the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968, and set about establishing policies to induce mortgage lenders and the real estate industry to treat Black homebuyers equally. The disaster that ensued revealed that racist exclusion had not been eradicated, but rather transmuted into a new phenomenon of predatory inclusion.  Race for Profit uncovers how exploitative real estate practices continued well after housing discrimination was banned. The same racist structures and individuals remained intact after redlining’s end, and close relationships between regulators and the industry created incentives to ignore improprieties.

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America

By Richard Rothstein

Widely heralded as a “masterful” (Washington Post) and “essential” (Slate) history of the modern American metropolis, Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law offers “the most forceful argument ever published on how federal, state, and local governments gave rise to and reinforced neighborhood segregation” (William Julius Wilson). Exploding the myth of de facto segregation arising from private prejudice or the unintended consequences of economic forces, Rothstein describes how the American government systematically imposed residential segregation: with undisguised racial zoning; public housing that purposefully segregated previously mixed communities; subsidies for builders to create whites-only suburbs; tax exemptions for institutions that enforced segregation; and support for violent resistance to African Americans in white neighborhoods.

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

By Thomas M. Shapiro

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, fundamental levels of racial inequality persist, particularly in the area of asset accumulation — home equity and other investments. Shapiro reveals how the lack of these family assets along with continuing racial discrimination in crucial areas like homeownership dramatically 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.  

Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities

By Andre M. Perry

The deliberate devaluation of Blacks and their communities has had very real, far-reaching, and negative economic and social effects. An enduring white supremacist myth claims brutal conditions in Black communities are mainly the result of Black people’s collective choices and moral failings. “That’s just how they are” or “there’s really no excuse”: we’ve all heard those not-so-subtle digs. But there is nothing wrong with Black people that ending racism can’t solve. We haven’t known how much the country will gain by properly valuing homes and businesses, family structures, voters, and school districts in Black neighborhoods. And we need to know. Noted educator, journalist, and scholar Andre Perry takes readers on a tour of six Black-majority cities whose assets and strengths are undervalued, including Washington, D.C. He provides an intimate look at the assets that should be of greater value to residents—and that can be if they demand it.

Our House: Keeping Homes Black-Owned in D.C.’s Ward 7 and 8

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