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Publisher's Summary

A groundbreaking exposé of racism in the American taxation system from a law professor and expert on tax policy

“Important reading for those who want to understand how inequality is built into the bedrock of American society, and what a more equitable future might look like.” (Ibram X. Kendi, number-one New York Times best-selling author of How to Be an Antiracist)

Dorothy A. Brown became a tax lawyer to get away from race. As a young Black girl growing up in the South Bronx, she’d seen how racism limited the lives of her family and neighbors. Her law school classes offered a refreshing contrast: Tax law was about numbers, and the only color that mattered was green. But when Brown sat down to prepare tax returns for her parents, she found something strange: James and Dottie Brown, a plumber and a nurse, seemed to be paying an unusually high percentage of their income in taxes. When Brown became a law professor, she set out to understand why.

In The Whiteness of Wealth, Brown draws on decades of cross-disciplinary research to show that tax law isn’t as color-blind as she’d once believed. She takes us into her adopted city of Atlanta, introducing us to families across the economic spectrum whose stories demonstrate how American tax law rewards the preferences and practices of white people while pushing Black people further behind. From attending college to getting married to buying a home, Black Americans find themselves at a financial disadvantage compared to their white peers. The results are an ever-increasing wealth gap and more Black families shut out of the American dream.

Solving the problem will require a wholesale rethinking of America’s tax code. But it will also require both Black and white Americans to make different choices. This urgent, actionable book points the way forward.

©2021 Dorothy A. Brown (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“This enlightening book is a vital companion to The New Jim Crow, The Color of Wealth, and Evicted, for how it reimagines everything you thought you knew about U.S. social policy.” (Tressie McMillan Cottom, MacArthur Fellow and author of Thick: And Other Essays)

“This book is a tour de force. With clarity and conviction, Dorothy Brown reveals how US tax policy sustains and deepens the wealth gap between black and white Americans. As I read The Whiteness of Wealth, I found myself shaking my head as I eagerly turned the pages and shouting ‘damn’ with each revelation. If we are finally to address the long history of racism in this country, we must grapple with the arguments of Brown’s powerful book. This is a must read for these troubling times.” (Eddie S. Glaude Jr., New York Times best-selling author of Begin Again and Democracy in Black)

“At once passionate and analytical, The Whiteness of Wealth is a bracing contribution to the history of policy racism that takes us to the heart of taxation’s effects on patterns of economic distribution.”(Ira Katznelson, author of When Affirmative Action Was White)
 

What listeners say about The Whiteness of Wealth

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Thought provoking and very accessible

It has been a couple of weeks since I finished The Whiteness of Wealth by Dorothy Brown. This was a great read/listen and very provocative. It has taken me this long to process my thoughts and feelings. I was equally energized and depressed at the end of this book. The book discusses how US tax policy perpetuates the wealth gap because the tax policy and code has been driven primarily by how white Americans live and manage their lives. Yes, there are generalizations in this book that some people may not relate to at all and will feel this book has it all wrong or that the differences are all due to personal choices. Despite those critiques, I believe the core of the book is spot on. If you don't believe the tax code isn't race neutral after this book, you don't want to know it.
The policy changes that would have to be made to neutralize or reverse the impacts noted are daunting, but at least I know what we're facing.

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Concrete examples of systemic racism

Systemic racism is everywhere; however, this helped shine a light on many concrete examples that don’t make the headlines. The far-reaching implications for generations of BIPOC but specifically African-Americans ultimately affect all of us and the sooner we can change the system, the better. I feel better equipped to advocate for reforms. Thank you, Professor Brown!

3 people found this helpful

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A must "read" for all Americans!

Truth can sometimes be difficult to hear but it always resonates if you remain open to the continual aquisition of knowledge towards objective truth.

This book drives truth through historical accounts and data. It can sometimes be a little overwhelming to listen to at times and may be better served with a hard copy. Nonetheless, it's a fascinating and introspective listen/read that allows one to reflect on the generational entitlement that is undoubtedly supported by the unfiltered history of this nation.

Kudos to the author and the narrator on a job very well done!

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Eye-opening

This book does an amazing analysis and spotlight on how thoroughly broken our tax system is for black americans. Must read for all.

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Eye Opening

This has been one of the most eye opening books on race and wealth that I have ever read/listened to. The author uses facts and history to help explain why the tax system continues to create disparities in wealth. This book should be required reading for schools.

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Wow!! A Revelation

This book reveals all the hidden and unacknowledged ways that our tax system benefits white people and disadvantages black people. Not only is the information so needed at this time, the book is also entertaining. The combination of stories and analysis is marvelous.

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Should be used in High School Economics class

This book was so informative that you have to read/ listen more than once

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Extremely Thought-Provoking

As a double minority, I am very aware of the advantages of the wealthy; however, this book provided far more insight than I’d expected. I have also taken financial action on a few of the points Dorothy Brown made throughout. This was an easy listen and, I am inspired by the forage it must have taken to speak on an issue as prevalent as this. 20 out of 10!

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The Light of Truth

The author digs up graves of racism in American Taxation, and honestly, it hurts!

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If only I knew then...

Wow.I might be smarter and wealthier! My family would have assets to build upon!Yaaas