How Everyday Choices Lock In White Advantage
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: NYU Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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pp. i -vi
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The reason I got into academia in the first place was the freedom to think, teach, and write on the issues I care most about. As important if not moreso has been the opportunity to collaborate, and this book was the highlight of my professional life in that regard. Richard Delgado first came to me, now many years ago, with the idea...
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At the beginning of Barack Obama’s second term, the image of a black man against the backdrop of grand marble and the stately appointments of the Oval Office seems quite routine and unremarkable. Photographs and footage show a man very much at home in the White House. Even...
1. The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: Some (Incomplete and Unsatisfying) Explanations for Persistent Inequality
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In the mid-1990s, scholars Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray published The Bell Curve, a provocative best-selling book about human intelligence. At the center of the book, the authors argued that the divide between highly intelligent people (“the cognitive elite”) and the unintelligent...
2. Cheating at the Starting Line: How White Racial Cartels Gained an Early Unfair Advantage during Jim Crow
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On a cold winter morning in Memphis, in January of 1919, a committee of four white switchmen marched into the office of one Edward Bodamer, superintendent of the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad. The switchmen were there, they said, to discuss a demand by the area...
3. Racial Cartels in Action: An In-Depth Look at Historical Racial Cartels in Housing and Politics
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Sometime in late 1928, leaders of the all-white Woodlawn Property Owner’s Association (WPOA) called members to an emergency meeting. WPOA was headquartered in Washington Park, which in those days was a middle-class white neighborhood in south-side Chicago...
4. Oh Dad, Poor Dad: How Whites’ Early Unfair Advantage in Wealth Became Self-Reinforcing over Time
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In 2000, two economists from the University of Washington published a paper on discrimination in jobs. The paper outlined a provocative argument—that segregating the races could reproduce inequality over time indefinitely, even if intentional discrimination were to end...
5. It’s How You Play the Game: How Whites Created Institutional Rules That Favored Them over Time
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Most high school seniors competing for admission to elite colleges like Harvard experience a fair amount of anxiety during the process. They know all too well that grades and test scores are not enough to get into Harvard. In addition to great numbers, applicants must demonstrate that they...
6. Not What You Know, but Who You Know: How Social Networks Reproduce Early Advantage
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Students who took shop classes at Glendale High in Baltimore in the 1970s and 1980s might remember Tim Spano, a white shop teacher who taught brick masonry at the public school for many years. By all accounts, Mr. Spano was one of those memorable teachers, offering...
7. Please Won’t You Be My Neighbor?: How Neighborhood Effects Reproduce Racial Segregation
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In the 1990s, economist Roland Bénabou developed a sort of thought experiment to try to understand the relationship between public school financing and the wealth of a neighborhood. Imagine two neighborhoods, with the same distribution of wealth among neighbors and equal...
8. Locked In: How White Advantage May Now Have Become Hard-Wired into the System
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In 2006, sociologists Robert Sampson and Jeffrey Morenoff published a remarkable study on race and poverty in Chicago.1 The authors tracked the rise and fall of poverty rates and racial make-up of Chicago neighborhoods for a two-decade period, between 1970 and 1990. Cities are...
9. Reframing Race: How the Lock-In Model Helps Us to Think in New Ways about Racial Inequality
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In 1989, the US Supreme Court issued its decision in what would turn out to be one of the Court’s seminal affirmative action cases, City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co (1989).1 The city of Richmond, Virginia had adopted a program that reserved 30 percent of the dollar amount of any...
10. Unlocking Lock-In: Some General Observations (and One or Two Suggestions) on Dismantling Lock-In
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In 2010, sociologists Darrick Hamilton and William Darity, Jr. proposed a bold policy to close the black and Latino wealth gap: baby bonds. If wealthy white families gave their kids a head start by putting them through college and giving them a down payment on a house, then the...
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The preceding chapter does not purport to provide a handbook for policy makers to prescribe ways to dismantle feedback loops or to unlock lock-in. Rather, it points to some very practical implications from the lock-in model that policy makers will have to take into account...
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About the Author
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Page Count: 205
Publication Year: 2014