Fifteen Cents on the Dollar: How Americans Made the Black-White Wealth Gap

Fifteen Cents on the Dollar: How Americans Made the Black-White Wealth Gap

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A sweeping, narrative history of Black wealth and the economic discrimination embedded in America's financial system.

The early 2020s will long be known as a period of racial reflection. In the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, Americans of all backgrounds joined together in historic demonstrations in the streets, discussions in the workplace, and conversations at home about the financial gaps that remain between white and Black Americans. This deeply investigated book shows the scores of setbacks that have held the Black-white wealth gap in place--from enslavement to redlining to banking discrimination--and, ultimately, the reversals that occurred in the mid-2020s as the push for racial equity became a polarized political debate.

Fifteen Cents on the Dollar follows the lives of four Black Millennial professionals and a banking company founded with the stated mission of closing the Black-white wealth gap. That company, known as Greenwood, a reference to the historic Black Wall Street district in Tulsa, Oklahoma, generated immense excitement and hope among people looking for new ways of business that might lead to greater equity. But the twists and turns of Greenwood's journey also raise tough questions about what equality really means.

Seasoned journalist-academics Louise Story and Ebony Reed present a nuanced portrait of Greenwood's founders--the entertainment executive Ryan Glover; the Grammy-winning rapper Michael Render, better known as Killer Mike; and the Civil Rights leader and two-term Atlanta mayor, Andrew Young--along with new revelations about their lives, careers, and families going back to the Civil War. Equally engaging are the stories of the lesser-known individuals--a female tech employee from rural North Carolina trying to make it in a big city; a rising leader at the NAACP whose father is in prison; an owner of a BBQ stand in Atlanta fighting to keep his home; and a Black man in a biracial marriage grappling with his roots when his father is shot by the police.

In chronicling these staggering injustices, Fifteen Cents on the Dollar shows why so little progress has been made on the wealth gap and provides insights Americans should consider if they want lasting change.