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

Fifteen Cents on the Dollar: How Americans Made the Black-White Wealth Gap By Louise Story, Ebony Reed Cover Image
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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.

About the Author

Louise Story is a prize-winning investigative journalist who spent more than 15 years at the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, where she was the top masthead editor running coverage strategy. Her work investigating corruption led to the largest kleptocracy case in U.S. history, a case known as the 1MDB case. Her work investigating Wall Street and the derivatives market led to a multi-billion dollar settlement. And her work investigating Goldman Sachs during the 2008 financial crisis led to that bank’s S.E.C. settlement. Projects she led received industry honors including Emmy Awards, and Pulitzer Prize finalist citations, and Online News Association awards. Louise’s film The Kleptocrats aired on the BBC, Apple and Amazon. She teaches at The Yale School of Management.

Ebony Reed began her career as a reporter at The Plain Dealer, covering Cleveland public schools, documenting public education’s inequities. The Investigative Reporters & Editors organization recognized her examination of how social promotion impacted the district’s majority Black and brown students. At the Detroit News, she managed the local coverage during the 2008 economic crisis. Now the Chief Strategy Officer at The Marshall Project, she has held other senior roles at the Associated Press, Boston Business Journal, and the Wall Street Journal. She’s taught at more than a half dozen institutions, including The Yale School of Management.

Praise For…

“If you are passionate—or even just curious—about equality in our country, read this book. It offers the economic grounding to debate the most pressing issues of our time: Education, healthcare, taxes, housing, labor policies, practically every issue in our country has an important element tied to the Black-white wealth gap. Just as Thomas Piketty’s Capital shed new light and broad interest on the subject, Fifteen Cents on the Dollar will catalyze broad and thoughtful conversations about the Black-white wealth gap." — Janelle Jones, vice president of policy and advocacy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth and former chief economist of the Department of Labor

"A brilliant and disturbing book that exposes and explains the pernicious nexus between the American economic system and American racism. It should be required reading for anyone seeking to understand the persistence of the wealth gap in our nation." — Jill Abramson, author of The Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts, and former executive editor of The New York Times

"Story and Reed have written one of the most poignant and insightful accounts of race, wealth, and poverty in the United States I have come across in the last twenty years. The stories they tell, the data they show, and the conclusions they draw are all compelling, disturbing, and convincing. Here is a book ready for policy makers, activists, community leaders and everyone interested in addressing the insidious interweaving of poverty and race in America." — Willie James Jennings, associate professor of Theology and Africana Studies and author of After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging

"Wealth is where history shows up in your wallet. Fifteen Cents on the Dollar is an unforgettable look into how the racial wealth divide impacts families, our economy and our society as a whole. This pivotal work is a must-read for those hoping to understand how today's inequalities are the result of a system built on a legacy of oppression." — Heather McGhee, New York Times bestselling author of The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together

"As a Black man who’s experienced some of the issues of the people in these pages, I felt seen reading this book. As a journalist, I was thrilled to see such powerful reporting and storytelling be harnessed for explaining one of the most convoluted yet consequential topics in American history. Fifteen Cents on the Dollar is accessible, compelling, eye-opening, moving and, at times, very sobering. It’s a weighty message, but not a heavy read. It's an important read." — Jared Council, founding editor of For(bes) The Culture and former Wall Street Journal reporter

Fifteen Cents on the Dollar will challenge everything you thought you knew about the Black-white wealth gap. It hits differently when you see it through the eyes of those who’ve struggled to endure and overcome it. This book is insightful, inspiring, and enraging — in a word, a revelation." — William J. Kole, author of The Big 100: The New World of Super-Aging and former Associated Press editor

"A compelling exploration of America's racial wealth divide with an exceptional blend of rigorous data and profound human emotion. At a moment when discussions about inequality are vital, this book offers a journey that engages the mind and the heart. Whether in the boardroom, within our communities, or around the dinner table, these insights offer a more nuanced, informed, and empathetic perspective on personal and professional growth, and how we can do better." — Charles Duhigg, New York Times bestselling author of The Power of Habit and Supercommunicators

“Story and Reed say wealth is financial power accumulated over time, then show how the Black community has been blocked for centuries in the game. Pay attention. This isn’t just history; the problem could get worse in an age of widening inequality.” — Jon Hilsenrath, former chief economics correspondent, The Wall Street Journal, and author of Yellen: The Trailblazing Economist Who Navigated an Era of Upheaval

“Louise Story and Ebony Reed have written an expertly reported and deeply moving book...I can’t tell you the number times I thought, ‘Oh no, Tandreia!’ as she repeatedly got her hopes up only to have them dashed again. I was so concerned when the authors couldn’t get in touch with Lovelace. And I loved getting to know Killer Mike, Brook Bacon, James Woodall, and many others. By telling the stories of these individuals and their families...Louise and Ebony offer fresh and much-needed insight. This is reporting and storytelling of the highest order.” — Stephen Wisnefski, executive editor, Investopedia

“An eye-opening look at how the wealth gap between Black Americans and the white majority grows ever wider. . . .An important book that should inform conversations about equity at every level.” — Kirkus Reviews

Product Details
ISBN: 9780063234727
ISBN-10: 0063234726
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: June 18th, 2024
Pages: 464
Language: English